I am too embarrassed to tell my doctor about my diarrhea!

by in Diarrhea December 9, 2007

No one wants to talk about the embarrassing complaints involving diarrhea, not even at a doctor’s visit.
So let me just tell you everything you need to know about diarrhea right here. First of all please do not hesitate to discuss this with your doctor, because although you may be embarrassed, your doctor talks about peoples poop problems all day long and just wants to help you get better. Diarrhea lasting longer than a week should have a visit to the doctor especially if you have tried home treatments for diarrhea, and they do not seem to be helping. Your doctor should order a stool culture to determine the cause of the diarrhea especially if you have travelled recently to a foreign country.

I quickly learned in my former life as a medical receptionist to never grab a brown paper bag that someone handed me without gloves on. Aside from infections, common causes of chronic diarrhea are Ulcerative colitis, Celiac’s Disease, and Chron’s. Irritable Bowel Sydrome (IBS) is simply a diagnosis made when no other cause can be determined. The following tips are designed for those with IBS, although may in fact be helpful for those with other causes of diarrhea.

First off in good ol’ Naturopathic tradition we must DETERMINE THE CAUSE of the diarrhea! Is it stress? Stress is a serious culprit in many diseases, and when it comes to IBS addressing stress is of fundamental importance because the digestive track simply does not function properly when we are under stress. Stress shuts down what is referred to as the “parasympathetic” portion of our nervous system that is in charge of digestion. Learning to cope better with stress should be a long term goal for those with chronic digestive complaints.

Many people with chronic diarrhea may just suffer from chronic food intolerances or aggravations. Frequent offenders are dairy, wheat, eggs, citrus, soy, nuts, spices, and fatty foods. The gold standard for determining if food is a culprit is to simply try an Allergy Elimination Diet. If you think it is a specific food like dairy for instance you can simply avoid all dairy for two weeks and then re-introduce it for breakfast, lunch and dinner for three days straight to determine if it is a problem or not. Although food intolerances may not be the initial cause of diarrhea, they often aggravate and confound the problem as a chronically inflamed gut will start to over react to the proteins in many common foods. I hate to be the bad guy, but it is usually a person’s favorite food that is the problem.

Things I like for diarrhea:

The Elemental diet
The Elimination Diet
Breathing exercises, meditation, stress management
L-glutamine powder
Herbs to soothe the gut lining “mucilaginous herbs” such as Slippery elm, Marshmallow, and Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra not the candy!)
Anti-inflammatory herbs Curcumin, Tumeric, Yarrow.
So most people just want me to give them something that will immediately stop the diarrhea. This strategy may or may not be successful. I strongly encourage anyone with chronic diarrhea to work directly with a trained professional to determine the cause of the diarrhea, natural medicines may help to regenerate and soothe the gut lining but are not very helpful when we haven’t figured out what is really going on! Next time you visit your doctor please don’t “forget” to bring up this subject…

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