Central Sensitivity

Iguana in St. John – love this pic!

Exciting news on the IBS front…I found a wonderful gastroenterologist! His name is Dr. William Salt, and he specializes in IBS and has written books on the mind-body connection in IBS. I had my first appointment with him on Monday, and I’ve never felt so encouraged about this condition! He’s genuinely excited to work with me on a treatment, and listened and took detailed notes while I poured out my whole IBS life story to him. We talked about doing a SIBO breath test, and once he found out that I’m an engineer, he was like “well let’s do it, you engineers are all the same!” I can’t help but love science. Anyway, I’m planning on doing that test this weekend.

He also told me that I have a 30% chance of having a condition called Bile Acid Malabsorption, which means that the body is not absorbing bile properly, which leads to chronic diarrhea. It’s estimated that 30% of IBS-D patients actually have this condition. The good news is that this is an easy condition to treat! It is actually treated with medications for high cholesterol, and they work as a “sponge” to soak up excess bile acid (they’re called bile acid sequestrants). So, after my SIBO test, I’ll be trying Colestipol to see if it works and if I can get the right dosage down. I’m thrilled to actually have some options to explore, and to finally have a doctor open to trying treatments that have only really been tried in Europe up to this point.

Interestingly, he said the medical community is starting to actually recognize excessive body sensitivity in patients as a real thing…not just them being crazy. Basically, the body’s “sensitivity knob” is turned way up, and this can cause all sorts of sensitivities to pain, food, medication, etc. There are a myriad of symptoms attributed to central sensitivity, but here are a few:

  • Chronic pain
  • One or more FGID (IBS, fibromyalgia, etc.)
  • Fatigue
  • “Brain fog”
  • Insomnia
  • Sensitivity to things like foods, medications, chemicals, odors, etc.

I told him about how I’ve always been really sensitive, but when I tell my sensitivites to other doctors they scoff at me. Dr. Salt said that’s typical for most doctors to just dismiss it as “all in your head” when it really isn’t. The common treatment is antidepressants, which work to “turn down the knob”. I’m looking forward to researching this more. It’s amazing to finally have some explanations as to why my body has always been so extra-sensitive. I’m hoping I continue to feel as encouraged as I have this week. A positive mental outlook can really change how I feel!

More St. John recaps coming soon when I have time!

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