I'm a 22 year old slim female - I eat relatively healthily, watching my sugar, salt, caffeine intake etc. I dont smoke or drink. About nine months ago, I suddenly seemed to develop a bloated stomch (at its worst, I can look pregnant!)- I've always had a flat stomach. Granted it'd swell up after a large meal, but it'd always go back to normal again. It's lesser when I wake, but it never entirely goes (even when I first wake up in the morning, and lay flat on my back, it still sticks up). I can assure people that I'm not obsessed with my body image or anything, I just know whats ''normal'' for me. When it swells up a lot it feels like ive got a water-balloon or soemthing in there. When it hurts, it can be anything from a constant ache to a stabbing pain (generally behind my belly-button or slightly above it, but the site of pain can vary). If I press down on the 'sore' feeling areas of my stomach I feel sick. My digestive system also seems to have slowed down.
Although I'm slim, I've always had a really good appetite. I have no issues with food and would often go back for seconds with home-cooked meals. With my current stomach problem, as well as the bloating, my appetite has reduced to about a third of my normal portion - I just feel full, even before starting to eat. If I try and eat what used to be a 'normal' sized portion my stomach hurts for a good day or so afterwards - sometimes to the point I need a hot-water bottle, or its preventing me from sleeping or wakes me up.
I've found that if I dont snack on little things throughout the day, I lose weight (a mere weekend without 'snacking' lead to me losing half a stone in weight, that ive since been unable to put back on). Although I've lost weight I'm still currently within the normal weight range for my height (although now its only just).
I'm far more tired than I used to be, no matter how much I sleep. My skin has recently become far more thin and dry, and seems to be looking more aged even though I'm still young, as well as my hair seeming thinner. Thinking this might be down to dehydration (maybe due to my stomach issue I thought), I've been drinking extra water every day, but there's been no improvement (and this inturn makes my stomach feel worse). I've also got sore eczema-like symptoms on the knuckles of 2 fingers that refuses to shift even after trying strong moisturises/emollient creams and ocassional hydrocortisone cream when it gets really bad. This too has lasted for the last few months.
I went to the doctors when the stomach problem first started (this is the british NHS so ***n useless), but they did nothing but try me on different drugs for excess stomach acid/stomach ulcers/gut ulcers/anti-spasmodics etc (each being accompanied with the usual ''try this for 2 weeks/ a month and come back if it doesnt help" speech). They did nothing.
I had a standard blood test which apparently was normal. I was then referred to a gastroenterologist who was exceedingly patronising, and seemed more concerned with my losing weight than the actual cause of the stomach pain/reduced appetite/bloating etc. My mum accompanied me to the appointment (him even asking her the same questions he asked me when i was out the room as though he thought i wasnt telling the truth!), and we both independently got the impression that he merely saw a slim young female and assumed it must be some kind of eating dissorder (which isnt the case as I love my food!). I had another blood test, but as of yet have not got the results back (them being late I might add). I've also had an ultra-sound scan of my abdomen (checking the organs mainly), but this too was clear.
Given the fact the doctors seem unwilling to actually do sod-all to properly help me, ive tried keeping note of what I eat (with no clear pattern emerging as to when symptoms are worse), as well as eating more pro-biotics etc to try and help things. I've also tried cutting out sugars/caffeine entirely, with no difference, and I'm currently trying a gluten-exclusion diet to see if its a gluten-intolerance given some of the symptoms (planning to try that for two or three weeks, and only about a week into it at the moment). So far there has been no obvious improvement.
I'm on the verge of wanting to scream, or simply cry over this, as its got to the point where I've simply had enough. I just want to be able to feel normal and be able to eat normally again.The different doctors I've spoken to are in the majority patronising, and seem to only be interested in 'quick fix' answers to send me on my way, rather than actually trying to find out what my problem is. If anybody has any suggestions, please help.
Thanks for your time.
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