IBS and Problem in Digesting Fat

Q: I have had fibromyalgia and IBS for 6 years. Lately, I have been having more trouble with my IBS along with pain in my middle back and stomach. The doctors don’t seem to find anything. They checked my gallbladder and said it was fine. But I have noticed that I have white spots, more like seeds in my stool. I am a vegetarian, so I could not have got worms from meat. But I don’t know what is going on. Do you have any thoughts?
-By Cara

Reply:

It is more likely that your symptoms are due to IBS.

About Irritable Bowel Syndrome

IBS is a disorder of the large intestine (colon). The affected part of the colon is irritable, so the digestion is affected.

Normally, our gut produces cycles of contractions and relaxation movements, which propel the food ahead throughout the gut. These rhythmic movements are called peristalsis.

In cases of IBS, these movements are affected. Either they are too rapid, resulting in very fast movement of food, or very slow.

If the movement is fast, the patient has diarrhea. If slow, the patient is constipated. Bloating and gas accompany in both cases.

The digestion of food is not proper, especially fat. The white specks may be due to undigested fat in your gut.

You may go for a stools culture to investigate those white specks.

Differentiating Gall Bladder Problems With IBS

Symptoms of common gall bladder disorders do appear similar to IBS. However, there are certain differences too.

  • Location of pain- Patients of gall bladder problem often complain of pain somewhere in the upper right abdomen. This pain may be behind the breast bones, or a little lower. Sometimes this pain radiates to the back. IBS gives abdominal pain, which is crampy in nature.
  • Some degree of nausea or vomiting are usually present in gall bladder problems. Fever with chills may also accompany.
  • Gall bladder patients typically complain about a fullness feel after meals.

However, many symptoms like bloating, gas and disturbed digestion are common.

If in any doubt, an ultrasound or other imaging technique can be done for the gall bladder.

Managing IBS

Though medicines are prescribed, it would be helpful to manage your symptoms by regulating your diet.

Watch your diet, what food give you problems. Maintaining a food diary works well for most.

Some Tips That May Help

  • Drink lots of fluids.
  • Let your meals be rich in fibers. These are naturally present in fruits and vegetables. Consume plenty of them.
  • You may consider adding some fiber supplement in your diet.
  • Light exercises on a regular basis are beneficial.
  • Patients with IBS have often been found to lack a healthy flora in their gut. It would be good to take fresh home-made curd on a regular basis to overcome this deficiency.
  • If you have any degree of lactose intolerance, restrict having milk and cheese. Read more about dietary measures.

Take Care,

Buddy M.D.

Medical Advice (Q&As) on “Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Fat Indigestion

  1. Anonymous

    Hello. I have a question about taking Senna natural laxatives. I have a very sluggish bowel. I am 31 and have been taking them for several years. I am 5’4? and weigh 135. I always go to all of my annual check ups and everything comes back great! The doctors are always shocked at how good my cholesterol levels and blood pressure are. I had to have a colonoscopy last year (My dad had stage 4 colon cancer at the age of 48) so it was just preventative. The gastroenterologist said everything looked awesome. He found one very small polyp which he removed and the lab said was completely benign. I have to go back for another colonoscopy in 5 years. I asked him about taking the senna everyday and he said it was fine to take them. I have also asked several other doctors and they have all said that as long as I am only taking the recommended dosage I can take them everyday but when I look it up on the internet I read all sorts of scary stories. What do you think about this?
    Also I wanted to add that I drink at least 8+ cups of water a day, eat tons of fresh fruits and veggies and work out 6 days a week. Even over the past 10 years or so since I have been taking them, I have never had to increase the dose. The regular dose taken daily works wonders for me. Thanks so much for your help.

    Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      There is no problem as far as you are taking the recommended dose.

      Your gastrointestinal tract has got used to the fibers you are taking. There is absolutely no harm in it. The fibers are just keeping your GIT healthy.

      Reply
  2. Chris

    Hello. I went to my PMD a few weeks ago for a number of problems: abdominal pain (mid to upper abdomen), constipation mostly w/ periods of diarrhea (stool yellowish/rust colored w/ a lot of mucus) and hip pain. Labs revealed: high calcium, low vitamin D, low phosphate and low vitamin B 12. I also had a hip x-ray due to the pain. The x-ray revealed a 2 mm circumscribed sclerotic lesion in the femoral head junction likely reflecting a bone island. My PMD suggested taking vitamain D for the deficiency and for the high calcium (no issues w/ parathyroid gland). She also suggested that I see an Orthopedist. He ordered an MRI which is pending. Depending on the MRI results I will likely also need a bone scan. As for the GI issues I have had an ultrasound to r/o gallstones which was neg and an endoscopy/colonoscopy which did not reveal much, but results of the colonoscopy will be revealed on my f/u appt. in a week (colitis suspected). In the meantime, I have been having pain in the other hip and have had pain in my ribs and back. Repeat labs indicated a normal Ca level (have been taking vitamain D 2000 IU a day, but also revealed very mild pancytopenia. Are all of these symptoms related? Do you think I have an autoimmune disease or do you think symptoms are indicative of cancer? Should the lesion be biopsied/removed? If it is limited to just the area on the hip what are the odds of curing the cancer vs. having multiple lesions. How often should it be scanned to check for possible changes? Please provide any help that you can. I am so scared that the prognosis will not be good so I am trying to find out as much information as possible. Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      This may be an autoimmune pictures (may be IBS), very unlikely to be malignancy.

      You need to go ahead with your follow up investigations. For now, you seem to be having some element of colitis and altered levels to calcium/ vitamin D, which need to be corrected.

      Read above about IBS in detail.

      Reply
  3. JMW

    Hi there. My dad had colon cancer 9 years ago at age 48. It was stage 4. He has been cancer free for 8 years and is doing really well. Because of my family history, I had to have a colonoscopy last year. I was almost 31 when I had mine. My doctor found one tiny little polyp. It was so small I could almost barely see it in the specimen cup. It came back as totally benign but my doc said that I would need to come back in 5 years to get checked again. I’m really scared of colon cancer. Especially since I have 2 small girls. Does this sound like a normal recommendation? Is 5 years too long/short to wait? No one else in my family has colon cancer. None of my dads siblings, parents, aunts or uncles have it and they have all been screened. Please help. I am 32 now and always go for annual physicals and all of my labs are perfect.

    Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      This is a standard protocol. It’s recommended to get yourself screened after 5 years. This does not mean you’re likely to have any malignancy. Such screenings are recommended for everybody.

      Since your dad had malignancy. you are recommended to go for screening after 5 years.

      Reply
      1. JMW

        Thank you. I also suffer from chronic constipation. I take fiber and senna to help with that but I do also notice that there is mucus in the stool a lot. Particularly after having gone to the bathroom and straining to go more I will see mucus on the toilet paper. I also have some internal hemorrhoids that tend to protrude when straining. I know there aren’t any tumors or growths since I just had my colonoscopy. Does this happen from constipation and straining? I also have really bad stress and anxiety, which I read can add to bowel problems.

        Reply
        1. Buddy M.D. Post author

          Straining at stools is bad. It contributes to hemorrhoids. Ask your dietitian about supplements, so that you get formed stools daily, no constipation or hard stools.

          As for mucous, it indicates that your colon is somewhat irritated. This may be due to stress or anxiety, or some medical condition like IBS.

          Reply