Monday, July 4, 2011

I'm Bloated, Not Pregnant

Hello faithful readers! My apologies for the slow down in posting.I have been putting most of my energy into getting better, so I've slowed down on the blogging. Don't worry, I do not plan on stopping! :)

Last week I decided to focus on a symptom that's been with me on and off for years but was not high enough on my priority list to actively address -- bloating.

Tackling bloating is my latest project.

In the past, I've been so busy with other medical problems (ME/CFS, PCOS, asthma, allergies, migraines, etc.) that "bloating" did not really seem all that important. After all, everyone experiences bloating from time to time, right? Now that I'm in a much better place physically this year, I've started addressing issues that have long been on the back burner, so to speak.

Perhaps, I need to explain the extent of my bloating and why I think it's important to deal with it. There are days that I look about three months pregnant (just google three months pregnant to see pictures). A few days later, I could be back to normal. Just to make sure I wasn't imagining things, I got out a tape measure to see how much my waist circumference was fluctuating.

Turns out, my waist expands 2 to 3 inches on a bad bloating day. Sometimes I feel the skin on my stomach stretching uncomfortably. (Sorry if that's a bit too graphic.)

No, I'm not pregnant. You'll just have to trust me on this.
I did some reading and found a few possibilities for my bloating:
  1. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (yup, have that)
  2. Food Sensitivities (have that one, too)
  3. Yeast Overgrowth in Intestines (hmm...very possible)
  4. Parasites (possible because before getting sick I traveled abroad extensively, including visits to less developed countries)
The first two I already know I have, there's nothing much I can do but keep avoiding gluten and dairy products. The latter two seemed like possibilities that I thought I could treat or rule out.

On Friday I had an appointment with my doctor (who treats lots of patients with ME/CFS) and told her about the bloating. I asked if she thought it was possible for me to have a yeast overgrowth or parasites. She said it was possible, so she ordered blood work and a take home stool test (very unpleasant). I forgot to ask when I'll get the results, but I will be sure to post them.

Rather than wait for my results, I decided to get started on treating a possible yeast overgrowth naturally. The products I'm using should not cause me any problems even if my tests don't show too much yeast. I found an interesting article by Jacob Teitelbaum (he wrote From Fatigued to Fantastic) about treating yeast overgrowth. I'm not following his specific protocol, but I am generally following the principles.

(By the way, my mom bought me his book a while back, and I've found it interesting and helpful in terms of different supplements and treatment possibilities.)

I've started Garden of Life Fungal Defense, which seems to be recommended by people on quite a few websites for people with Irritable Bowel Diseases (like ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease). Fungal Defense has herbs like oregano and includes enzymes that help break down fungus. I'm on day five.

When I finish my two weeks on Fungal Defense (or maybe before...I haven't decided yet), I'm going to start on a mix of probiotics. I've been on probiotics before, but I never really paid much attention to the different bacteria strains.

I've read that certain probiotics may help certain conditions. For example, one strain of bacteria might help eczema, while another might be better for general IBS. After looking up what different strains are supposed to do, I found that Garden of Life makes a probiotic with all the strains I was looking for.

I don't know how much I believe in the miracles of good bacteria, but I figure it's worth a shot.

I really hope I don't have parasites.

I'll keep you posted.

My Disclaimer: I listed a few products in this post. I am not being compensated by anyone to mention these products and do not recommend you use them until you've spoken with your doctor.