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.


Jo said...

Nice to see you! I bloat and have done for years. It's all sorts of things with me - can be thrush, constipation, eating too much, stress, too much fruit, dairy products, medication or worrying about bloating! Yoga helps, as does avoiding trigger foods and elasticated waists. Good luck with it. I'm pretty sure it won't be parasites, you'd be bloated all the time.

Keena said...

I use a probiotic and it helps my energy levels. I am thinking about checking to see if I have an overgrowth of the Candida Fungus. Good Luck!!

Anonymous said...

Glad to see you posting. I have the bloating thing as well an started taking digestive enzymes and probiotics (45billion) and a colon cleanse at night. That made a big difference for me.

When I first saw the title of your post I thought someone had commented on your being pregnant when you weren't and thought "oh no."

I'm glad you are tackling this head on. I think that is a great

alyson said...

Hi Jo - Thanks for the comment! I agree that my bloating is probably from a variety of sources. When my bloating is really bad, I can't zip up! :(

Hi Keena - Thanks for visiting! I haven't started on my latest round of probiotics yet, but I will be sure to post updates. Good luck to you, too.

Hi Dominique - I hadn't considered digestive enzymes, but I am definitely looking into it now. Thanks for mentioning that they've helped you! I'm not sure I'm ready for a colon cleanse, but I will keep the idea on standby. ;)

Sue Jackson said...

Good to hear from you, Alyson - no worries on not posting much, as you can see I am way behind in my reading, so it works out perfectly!

A very interesting post. I, to, like many of us, have IBS symptoms and lactose intolerance. Just this week, for the first time, I experienced yeast overgrowth (after starting a second antibiotic for my Lyme). Adding different probiotics is really helping with that.

When I first read the title of this post, I misunderstood it. I thought you were taking about the bloating that comes with taking in so much extra salt and fluids. That, unfortunately, is GOOD bloating for those of us with CFS and a necessary evil. I started a new med in January that caused bloating, and my doctor and I just sort of shrugged at each other and said, "Oh, well, with CFS the bloating is good!" So depressing to be trying to bloat up, especially when trying to get into my pants!

But of course, bloating from intestinal distress is never good. I will look into some of the things you mentioned here. Thanks!

Hope you are doing well -


beatrice in Paris said...

Hi Alyzon,
Good luck with the treatment. Two to three inches is a big difference in the waistline!

alyson said...

Hi Sue - I hope you've been able to resolve things. Candida bloating is not especially enjoyable!

Hi Beatrice - Thanks for stopping by. Things seem to have calmed down a bit...for now! I'll be posting an update soon.

Angie said...

Hey Alyson,

Just found your blog (through another who found mine) and this was the first entry that caught my eye.

I too have CFS... have had it for over 10 years. So many symptoms... too many to list, but stomach issues have always been mixed into that loooong list. The worse I have felt over the years, the worse my stomach pains/issues have always been.

10 years ago, when I first got severely and mysteriously ill (after being poked & prodded, tested for this, that, & the other, and saw doctor after doctor after specialist) I was finally told that IBS is common in people with CFS/FM. The "meds" they gave me for that "IBS" didn't work. What a surprise!

I too, wound up taking matters into my own hands (what choice do we have when mainstream dr's can't seem to/ don't know how to help).

I did multiple candida 'cleanses' (this actually became a way of life), and ate accordingly (no yeast, sugars, carbs, dairy). I loaded up on 'good bacteria' and even resorted to those nasty, scary colonics (I'm ashamed to say). I also took 'digestive enzymes' when ever I ate. This regimen really did seem to help... it at least helped me "feel" a bit better. The pain never really did completely go away.

After maintaining several years of 'relatively' ok health (I could 'function,' even work, again even if I never felt completely well) I relapsed this past year and became sicker than I've have ever been.

The stomach issues returned as well (along with the whole other regime of crazy symptoms). I too, looked pregnant (it was VERY apparent on my small 120# frame!).

This time, I demanded for an upper endoscopy to rule out celiac. (The biopsy showed inflammation & polyps, but my vili were intact and healthy looking). This GI chose to do some further testing, and actually found that I have GASTROPARESIS. (Stomach/upper GI paralysis due to possible damage to our nervous system, etc)

I am wondering if you, too, and perhaps many others with our types of illnesses, have this condition?

It is clear that what ever is causing this mysterious CFS/FM type illness in my body, affect my nervous system, as my arms, legs, cheeks and lips go numb/tingley when my other symptoms get severe. Or perhaps the 'inflammation' in our bodies have pinched or blocked the signals from getting through?

Definitely continue with the good bacteria, controlling the yeast overgrowth (I think we ALL have that since our body's can't handle it like healthy ones), and taking digestive enzymes. But I just wanted to give you something else to look for/explain it.


alyson said...

Hi Angie -- Thanks for visiting my blog! It's funny you should mention gastroparesis because I've wondered from time to time if I had it. It sort of comes and goes for me. I've been taking care of other issues lately, but going back to my GI doctor to ask about gastroparesis is on my TO DO EVENTUALLY list. It's amazing how many body systems are affected by CFS.

jenji said...


I used to bloat terribly and I also looked 3 months pregnant. Since cutting out gluten and adding a very simple probiotic (acidophilis & bifdus, nothing too strong or else you can get other issues) I never, ever have bloating unless I've been glutened.

I also have CFIDS/ME or "lupus-like" illness given my blood confusing and borderline results, among a myriad of other issues like antiphosphilipid syndrome, narcolepsy w/cataplexy and pudendal neuropathy. But I just thought I'd mention that to you. It's wonderful to not have that bloat anymore. Oh, and I was diagnosed with IBS too long ago, but after going strictly gluten-free, no more D. Constipation can still be an issue now and again, but I rarely have colitis attacks anymore, as in probably less than 1 per year when I used to have them a few times per week. I no longer have the incessant rash on my arms anymore either. That lifelong problem has been completely gone for almost 3 years. My bloodwork tested negative for celiac, but I had been gf for over a year by the time a GI doctor would go ahead and agree to test me, so it would be expected that the test results would be negative.

My new GI specialist told me to go with what works and if we need to do a small bowel biopsy in the future to confirm celiac, then we'll do it, but only if I'm having problems again, as doing so sans problems wouldn't be worth the risk to just find out for sure. I agree.

Anyway, I'm rambling. It's not easy to stay GF, but once you get the hang of it, it's well worth the reward.

I don't talk about my illnesses on my blog, but I do frequent other CFIDS/ME/Lupus etc blogs. Isn't it wonderful to have a community that you can compare notes with so as to better widdle down what may be going on in our bodies?


alyson said...

Hi jenji - Thanks for visiting my blog! I'm so sorry you have so many health issues. As you know, I can relate.

I'm so glad your GI issues have improved. Yes, on my worst days I definitely looked 3 months pregnant, and it was not flattering. I've been gluten-free, dairy-free since early 2011, and it has really helped my overall GI issues a lot.

I still struggle with bloating from time to time -- I suspect it's from both candida and accidential gluten/dairy ingestion. I had been taking probiotics for a while, but I stopped when I started having my most recent health issues...just in case the supplements had anything to do with my problems. I'm not taking any chances with supplements until I get to the bottom of my recent issues.

It is wonderful to have a chronic illness community. Not many people understand our lives!