Discussions By Condition: I cannot get a diagnosis.

Bloating and water retention, doctors not helping.

Posted In: I cannot get a diagnosis. 5 Replies
  • Posted By: Anne20
  • September 28, 2008
  • 03:49 PM

Near the end of May I suddenly started bloating and holding water. The reasons for me making this conclusion were:

- Sudden ‘weight gain’ around the abdomen area, on my back, and some slight swelling of the ankles. To be honest the ‘weight gain/puffiness’ even went up onto my sternum area, basically most of my torso as well as my neck and under the jaw.
- Drinking a lot of water (was thirsty quite a lot) but rarely going to the loo during the day, but getting up to go in the night on most nights.
- Slight indentation on the abdomen when pressed but mild, only visible from where I saw it looking down and lasting a couple of seconds. This may not count for much, I don’t know.
- This is quite weird, but when I pinched, pressed or rubbed a ‘water area’ it would go red where my fingers were and stay that way for a while.
- The glands on the sides of my neck were quite swollen and sometimes tender to the touch.

The actual bloating was most usually in the lower abdomen, the peak of it from around the navel down. I also had frequent bouts of breast tenderness and lower back pain, which I’ve read is a result of PMS water retention (though correct me if I’m wrong), and these three symptoms led me and my doctor to think it was hormonal imbalance (I thought the navel-down bloating was due to the uterus).

The doctor put me on the Pill, brand name Marvelon. Unfortunately this was a few days before I was set to leave for summer work in the USA, and was unable to get the proper hormone blood test done. While over there I spent three months on Marvelon, which did little to nothing, and when I had the blood test done when I got back it turned out my hormones are fine.

That was the last stop and now I don’t know what could be behind this. Apart from the breast tenderness and lower back pain the above symptoms are still with me. The thing is, the extent of these symptoms can vary from day to day, occasionally even throughout the day. Sometimes I’ll hold more 'water weight' with significant ‘puffiness’ and bloating, sometimes I’ll hold less. I’ve tried keeping a food diary but there is no pattern to the variation, it does it on its own. Maybe stress plays a factor? I know that people can be stressed without realising it at times.

I did see another doctor when I came back from the States and she suggested the possibility of IBS. Even though I do have mild IBS (I think - I know that I react a bit to certain foods (high-fat/protein dairy is the main culprit, like whole milk and mature cheese) and if I eat irregularly) I am very sceptical that this is it as: 1) My bowel movements are generally fine. 2) I did have a sudden and severe attack last winter (which I fixed with Lycopodium) and this kind of bloating is different to that. In the winter my whole gut swelled up and became hard, this time it is a softer and pretty tender swelling (and a lower abdomen bloating). By the way I tick all the right boxes when it comes to diet and exercise – four/five fruit and veg, small meals, low fat/sugar/salt/alcohol etc.

I’m not diabetic (according to a test done last December/January), I’ve tried peppermint and ginger in case of IBS (did nothing), I’ve tried dandelion tea and potassium supplements (also did nothing). I even tried Lycopodium again in case of IBS – nothing

There are a couple of extra symptoms I’d like to list that happened either when this first started or happened over the summer and I’ve seen little to nothing of them lately:
- When it first began in May as well as the swelling I suffered from terrible tiredness and listlessness, feeling awful during the day though I felt significantly better in the evenings. This disappeared however either with the Pill and/or the regular routine of my summer job.
- My digestion, stomach wise, didn’t fare well. Occasionally my sternum/stomach would swell up tightly and very uncomfortably, but again with no real pattern to it. I think however this could be of other factors: 1) My job was a counsellor at a children’s camp, which meant high levels of stress 2) The change of diet (which was a pretty drastic change) probably played an important role. To be fair, my digestion hasn’t been brilliant for a while (again, no real pattern to it). Weak stomachs run in the family. For the last month life has been less stressful for me and I took a course of Alsen Arb (meant to reduce stress that causes stomach upsets) so I’ve had no tight stomach swellings like over the summer. Digestion has improved quite a bit also. However, as part of the general puffiness on my body, the sternum area is still particularly tender to the touch and painful to press.

I have a feeling that the digestion could have been a separate issue, maybe exaggerated by what the current problem is but not really involved in it? But this is just something I thought I should include in case it does have significance.

Things have improved a little since May but not much. I think that stress worsened my symptoms but they are still with me in blazen glory and I’ve had enough. Sorry for the long post, but this seems to be quite a complex thing maybe. Really looking for answers and wanting an end to it – it’s really uncomfortable!


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