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Changes in the bowel movements. What could this mean?

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For the past three months, I've experienced a range of intestinal problems. These symptoms began as constipation throughout the week that crescended into diarrhea during the weekend. These symptoms have progressively become more irritating. Perhaps, two months ago, I started experiencing prolonged cramps before and after defecating. Moreover, the consistency of my feces has changed from consistently solid and well formed to soft, sausage-like links at best and chopped up bits at worst. I have made dietary changes due to noticeable irritants. For example, coffee and wine will surely cause a painful bout the day of or the day after their consumption. Dairy products will precipitate the same effects (I've been lactose intolerant for awhile, though). Yet, even with these dietary changes, the cramps and soft stool/diarrhea persists. I'm 23 years old, male, with a BMI of 20. I'm not overweight; I exercise as much as possible; I try to eat healthy food. What could cause these intestinal problems? I suppose I should add that when I have greasy food, like pizza or a burger, the aforementioned symptoms manifest.

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Category: Family Physician-GP
Dr. John Monheit is online now

Expert:  Dr. John Monheit replied 4 Days.

Hello, the symptoms that you have described are probably suggestive of a condition known as Irritable bowel syndrome. Irritable Bowel syndrome is a chronic symptom complex of altered bowel habits and abdominal pain. It begins in adolescence and early childhood. There is no definite cause that triggers this condition. It can be due to anxiety, tension, altered gastric emptying, increased small bowel contractions, excessive worry, and certain foods. This usually presents with bloating, abdominal pain Diarrhea, altered bowel habits, increased gurgling noises. Some triggering factors like foods chocolate, milk, alcohol can cause constipation.

I would suggest you to undergo a sigmoidoscopy. Here the doctor puts a flexible tube attached to the camera through the anus and the images in side the colon is taken along with biopsy if needed. You can also get a stool examination.  You can use a few remedies to relieve it such as:

a) You can increase the roughage content of your diet

b) Exclude lactose in the diet, alcohol.

c) Painkiller like ibuprofen to reduce abdominal cramps.

If the condition doesn't improve, you can consult your doctor with reports. Hope this helps. Thank you.

Dr. John Monheit
Category: Family Physician-GP
Residecny: North Colorado Family Medicine
Medical School: The Chicago Medical Center
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