July 31, 2011
In April, I wrote about fatigue (Raptor: A Journey Through Birds ) and how I hated to hear, “Doc, I’m always tired.” Fatigue is associated with every disease known to mankind!
Hearing, “Doc, my stomach hurts”, is almost as bad as dealing with a complaint of fatigue. The abdomen holds your stomach, intestines (large and small), liver, gallbladder, spleen, pancreas, kidneys, bladder, adrenal glands, and an assortment of tubes, vessels, and lymph glands. “My stomach hurts” could be related to any one organ or combination of organs.
To make matters worse, stomach pain may be secondary to food intolerance, allergy, mal-digestion, Irritable Bowel Syndrome or an assortment of infections (viral, bacterial, and parasitic). Today’s article will address food intolerance and allergy.
The world of high fashion is no longer limited to clothes and hairstyles. Over the past 10 years, I have seen many stylish diseases come and go. Three years ago, Restless Leg Syndrome was the rage. Patients clamored in wanting to be treated for leg cramps and pain. Last year, Vitamin D deficiency was the disorder to have. This year, high fashion in the medical world is to have Celiac/Sprue/Gluten disorder.
This year, “Doc, my stomach hurts” is followed by, “Could I have Celiac Disease? Can you draw some blood and run some tests?” Fashionable diseases come and go. Celiac Disease (Principles and Practice of Clinical Virology ) is here to stay as we are finding an increasingly large percentage of the population has problems digesting gluten.
I am not a big fan of doing lab tests to look for Celiac Disease. The treatment of Celiac Disease is to remove all gluten from your diet. While not an easy diet, a gluten free diet can be miraculous for individuals afflicted by this disorder. Going totally gluten free for three weeks is:
- Less expensive than lab tests that may be falsely negative or falsely positive.
- Reliable – If you improve remarkably, you know what’s wrong and you realize the benefits of treatment.
- Enlightening – You will understand the difficulties of a gluten free diet and can discern for yourself whether a gluten free diet is something you can maintain.
There are many other reasons why your abdomen may hurt. Before you go to your doc, ask yourself the following questions:
- Where does my belly hurt?
- When does it hurt?
- What does it feel like? (sharp, dull, aching, stabbing, burning, crampy)
- How long have you had problems?
- Do you have any nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, bleeding?
- What makes it better?
- What medicines have you tried?
- What makes it worse?
- Have you had prior abdominal or pelvic surgery?
Many times, by answering the above questions, you will diagnose and cure yourself. At a minimum, you will help your doc help you.