Over my years as a dietitian, I have seen many individuals struggle with various symptoms. Even while working at Johns Hopkins, there were some they just couldn’t quite figure out what was going on. I was always under the impression that if you go to the doctor, you come out with answers. That is not always the case. Not because they don’t understand, but because they can’t know everything and there is so much we don’t know. With a focus on GI nutrition, I try and learn everything I can about it, but I also keep my eyes and ears open for
other conditions, diseases, etc, that can have overlapping symptoms. I can’t make a diagnosis for a client, but I can give advice to clients about what questions they can ask their doctors.
So, are you still on a search for your health journey? You have had every test done under the sun and still don’t have a clue why you don’t feel good? For many it can take years to get the correct diagnosis. For example, it has been shown that individuals with celiac disease see multiple physicians over an average of 11 years before receiving a definitive diagnosis. This was discovered in research studies conducted at Columbia University in New York and by the Canadian Celiac Association. It is estimated that only 5%-20% in the U.S. and Canada have been diagnosed. What about IBS? IBS generally takes a long time to diagnose. So much needs to be ruled out, such as celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, etc., before an IBS diagnosis is given.
I mostly see clients with gastrointestinal issues, but I also see many with outlying issues, such as joint pain, brain fog, body aches, etc. Yes, something like celiac disease and IBS can cause these symptoms, but what if you aren’t feeling better after following all of the necessary recommendations?
I love the fact that we have so many options for healthcare right now. We have traditional doctors, functional medicine doctors and also many nurse practitioners that have their own practice. Functional medicine doctors are medical doctors that have just taken a different route in their studies. Some were traditional doctors, and at some point decided they wanted a different approach for their patients. I believe there is a fit for all doctors for different reasons. Many of my clients over time made a choice to go the functional medicine route because they needed a different focus on their symptoms.
Our bodies are intricate machines, so figuring them out takes many great minds. That is why we need all kinds of practitioners. No one is better than the other, but you need to find your fit and that can take time and money.
So many of these illnesses have overlapping symptoms. I am going to list many that I have learned about over the past years and what I have seen in my clients, learned at conferences, or have seen in my personal story.
-Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
-Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Crohn’s and Colitis)
-Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
-Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS)
-Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS)
I have written about a few of these on previous blogs. Kate Scarlata, dietitian from For A Digestive Peace of Mind recently wrote a 3 part blog on MCAS. She also has a great blog on SIBO. Go to her website at katescarlata.com or google search Kate Scarlata MCAS/SIBO blog. Dr. Carnahan is a functional medicine doctor and has blogs on many of the above illnesses. Some of these fit a traditional doctor diagnosis and others are more for a functional medicine doctor. It is your health and your life, so it is up to you to help navigate it. I tell my clients that their health journey is like a puzzle. It may take weeks, months or even years to get the pieces to fit together, but that is the ultimate goal. You have to decide how you are going to try and attain that goal, and where your comfort level is with varying health practitioners.
The information in this blog is not a substitute for professional medical advice, examination, diagnosis and treatment. Always seek advice from your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before altering your diet, starting a new treatment or making changes to an existing treatment.