My Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) has been flaring for about a month now. It is not pretty. I am used to chronic constipation, but I am currently on a see-saw of extreme constipation then extreme diarrhea. There is no in-between. And along with that is daily, almost hourly severe abdominal cramping and nausea.
In the last week, I have had so much diarrhea that my body has become moderately dehydrated a few different times. I'm still recovering from one right now. We thought it was only dehydration, but since I push enough water to make my pee run clear, according to every hydration resource I can find, this is supposed to mean I am hydrated.
Yes, I know we're getting into the Too Much Information category here, but you're still reading. So...
I picked up my book, IBS for Dummies, by Carolyn Dean, MD, ND and L. Christine Wheeler, MA yesterday to see if I could gleam any new information. As I was chauffeured by George the hour long trip one way to my acupuncture appointment, I read aloud. We found that perhaps, I have not just been experiencing dehydration, but also malnutrition. With the rate the food I have been able to get into my system is flying out of my system, it has not spent enough time in my intestines for the important nutrients like magnesium, calcium, sodium and potassium to be absorbed. Why is this a problem? Because those are the vital nutrients for cells. You don't have those nutrients, you body stops working properly.
Reading the symptoms of having the different deficiencies were eye opening to George and I as I have been having unique complaints this last month that may be explained by my lack of consuming these nutrients.
Most everyone's solution for dehydration and restoring electrolytes is "drink your preferred sports drink." When I spoke with the nurse practitioner who did my acupuncture about my situation, she said "Maybe you should drink some Gatorade."
You have to search to find places that tell you how to restore your electrolytes (magnesium/sodium/calcium/potassium) by other methods than drinking Gatorade. I told my NP that I was frustrated that the common answer was to drink a sports drink. Ick. Just thinking of drinking Gatorade makes me want to gag. I have a lot of food allergies and corn is one of them. Sports drinks have this ingredient called: High Fructose Corn Syrup. *shiver* As an aside, I found online where you can make your own rehydration solution with salt, sugar and water. Apparently they save thousands of people in Africa with this formula from dying of diarrhea.
From my searches online and reading the Dean and Wheeler book, I've discovered one can restore magnesium by eating leafy green veggies, avocado and potatoes. One can restore calcium (and probitotics) by eating yogurt and kefir. One can restore sodium in a healthy natural way by eating celery (who knew?!) And of course one can restore potassium by eating bananas. Oh and there are supplements galore, but I would not touch that without first speaking with my doctor.
In addition to restoring my electrolytes, I'm working on my IBS triggers. Up until reading the section on triggers yesterday, I had eliminated all triggers except: dairy, sugar and stress. For weeks, there have been many days I could not force myself to eat much of anything because of the extreme nausea, but I could tolerate homemade rice pudding that has cane sugar and milk. I thought I was feeding myself, but I may have been contributing to the problem. Apparently sugar (and dairy) in the system creates excess yeast which irritates the lining of the gut. The easy things will be cutting down on dairy and cutting out sugar (as I don't eat much of that anyway). Stress. Well that is another post completely, but I think the key to stress is managing it.
So, the point is that I feel empowered now that I know something to do. I have an appointment set up with my GI doctor for early September. In the meantime, I have a medication that he prescribed a while back to help with IBS bouts of cramping.
Reading up on IBS has led to other important discoveries for me. I have been experiencing unexplained tachycardia (fast heart rate) since December 2010. After seeing a cardiologist and negative test results, my primary care doctor does not have an answer when I repeatedly ask him why this tachycardia suddenly cropped up. From my reading about IBS, I found that being magnesium deficient might possibly be the culprit. I have borrowed a book from the library on magnesium deficiency and plan on reading up on it and sharing the information with my primary doctor at my next visit in late September.
Sometimes I have felt as though I have been at the mercy of my chronic conditions. Being empowered today feels so good.