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Paul asked...

I've had ongoing stomach issues since my early twenties...

I've had ongoing stomach issues since my early twenties, accompanied by breakouts of acne. I'm now in my early thirties, and whilst the acne is down to the odd breakout, my stomach issues are ever increasing. This usually comes in the form of painful bloating. To the point where my lower back and diaphragm feel intense pressure. I get a feeling of extreme heat in my abdomen, and often have a swollen anus. These flare ups can last up to a week without any easing in this time. More recently, I've found cuts to my anus. I don't get diarrhoea very often. I've isolated a lot of trigger foods, and have done my best to cut them out of my diet, however there are still some things I can't figure out. I'm concerned I'm doing lasting damage to my intestines. When there is a flare up, I have extremely low energy. I've had little constructive advice from my gp in the past, which has deterred me from returning with the same issue. Is there anything else I can do, other than starve?

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The answer

From the symptoms you have describe it is possible you have food intolerances such as coeliac disease or have a problem with an inflammatory bowel condition, both of these can lead to problems absorbing nutrients from your food, bloating, pain and low energy levels. Diarrhoea is often associated with both of these issues but is not always present. It is good that you have been able to identify some trigger foods as this will be helpful in diagnosis. Starving is never recommended, but with some conditions the gastrointestinal tract does need to be rested. Diagnosis of your condition is needed to ensure you are getting the appropriate treatment, this may simply be dietary changes or you may need medication. Without a diagnosis we cannot speculate if this will cause long term intestinal issues. If your GP has not referred you to a Gastroenterologist as yet to assess you and do further testing we would suggest you request a referral. If you have private medical insurance we would suggest talking to your claims team regarding the referral process and cover for this as referral process may be faster this way. Hopefully this will help you,

Answered by the Health at Hand nurses