ZocdocAnswersCould I have IBS?

Question

Could I have IBS?

A few months ago in late June I began having abdominal pains. These pains spread around and moved about, never really becoming localized. Thy have been a constant annoyance for several months, along with frequent changes in stool consistency and occasional mucus in the stool. I've ah acid reflux problems flaring up, and I'm experiencing sore chest pain, most likely from acid and transverse colon gasses. There is an odd sensation that feels as though I can feel the gases moving across my lower chest area where the transverse colon is. I'm sixteen years old, male. I recently started taking lactate pills, suspecting that it might be lactose intolerance. I've also had neck pains, but I could be sleeping wrong. The pain in my abdomen moves mainly to all corners of my abdomen, top right and left and lower right and left. My stomach feels hard pretty often, and is a little painful when pressure is put on it.

Answer

I am sorry to hear about your symptoms. They certainly could be consistent with IBS, although you should speak with your primary care doctor or gastroenterologist for further evaluation. Generally, IBS is characterized by recurrent abdominal pain >3 months that is also accompanied by at least 2 of the following: pain relief with bowel movements, change in stool frequency, and/or change in stool form (diarrhea or constipation). There are other possible explanations for your symptoms, and you should discuss the following ideas with your doctor. Bloating, flatulence, and diarrhea could be a sign of lactose intolerance, although this would likely improve with lactose avoidance or lactase enzyme tablets. Malabsorption syndromes (like Celiac, bacterial overgrowth, or Whipple's disease) could cause bloating, foul-smelling stools, and flatulence. Mucus or blood in the stool would raise suspicion for an inflammatory bowel disease (such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease), and these can often present in the teenage years. A fairly standard workup performed by your doctor should tease some of these diagnoses apart, and some basic tests might include fecal fat, fecal white blood cells, fecal blood, and a stool osmotic gap. I would strongly recommend that you see your physician to discuss some of the above possibilities, especially as a gastroenterology referral may be useful.

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