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Looking for some input. I've read many forums that seem to touch on my symptoms to a varying degree, but still hoping to find my own answers. I'm a 30 year old female. About three years ago I started having anxiety issues, followed soon after by digestive issues. I've heard this is a normal reaction to the stress of anxiety, and eventually without medication I was able to get my anxiety issues under control. Still plenty of stress in my life but I haven't had an attack in two years. I eat fairly healthy (aside from a few slices of pizza every couple weeks) and I am regularly active (though I do want to start working out more.) I used to drink beer quite frequently but in the last two years I would say I drink less than two beers per week on average. I've been a smoker for a long time but in the past year and a half I've cut down a lot. I smoke only during the week, and only 4-6 cigarettes per day. About eight months ago I started getting acid reflux, for which I began taking OTC Prilosec when needed. It has gotten progressively worse, and honestly the Prilosec doesn't seem to help much. In the past few months, my digestive issues have increased quite a bit. Most notably, when I first wake up in the morning I often have a sick to my stomach feeling. About an hour after waking, I suddenly have an urgency to poop. There is little to no pain, but mild to moderate discomfort. Several times in the last two months, I've ended up having to go to the bathroom 4-6 times in a short time frame. It's not usually diarrhea, but not far off from it. Aside from the sick to my stomach feeling, there is no nausea or vomiting. Last week, I had the same urgency in the morning and continued having to go multiple times over several hours. I noticed that there seemed to be mucous in my stool. This freaked me out a little, but after some online research I found that it can be a common occurrence, especially for someone with sensitive digestion. However, the following day there was still some mucous and also a small amount of red blood. Again, no pain or major discomfort, but obviously seeing blood has me concerned. My stomach also makes a lot of grumbling noises throughout the day, whether or not I have eaten. I thought I might have developed lactose intolerance, so I have cut way back on the dairy products I eat. I also recently started drinking soda (only one can every day or two) again after giving it up when my anxiety issues began three years ago. Since last week I have not had any soda. I still smoke but have cut back on that as well. All signs seem to point to IBS, I'm hoping it's nothing more serious. Does anyone have advice on diet changes and over the counter medicines that could help? I have a doctor's appointment in a few weeks, but would love to any advice I can get.

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Hello MB,

Sounds like you might have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).  There is also irritable bowel disease (IBD).  These are two different things.  If you're having mucus in your poop chances are you are sensitive to gluten.  Gluten is found in a number of foods.  Watch out for white flour, durum wheat, whole wheat flour, semonilina, wheat germ and wheat bran.  The foods you want to stay clear of are pasta, couscous, bread, tortillas, cookies, cakes, muffins, cereals, beer (YES, beer), crackers, gravies, sauces and dressings.  This isn't a complete list but covers the most common items.  If you eliminate these items, you see a difference in a couple of weeks.  You're not allone as many people have this problem.  Sometimes a gluten sensitivity can come about during stressful times.

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I really hope it's just IBS. Started taking a probiotic and Benefiber this week, not sure if it's helping yet. Of the foods you mentioned, I really only eat bread and tortillas occasionally during the week (pasta a few times a month). The list of foods to avoid seems endless, and so far none of the ones I've avoided have seemed to make a difference. I have an appt. with a GI specialist next week, hoping for good news.
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