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What is steatorrhea?
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An_201515 posted:
I've had some off and on abdominal issues over the last few years (cramps, random abdominal pain in random quadrants, painful gas, frequent change in stool consistency, frequent constipation, etc.) and have always been curious about what "steatorrhea" really is. Everyone has had diarrhea at some point and everyone has been constipated at some point, so we all know what that looks like. But what does steatorrhea look like?

I've tried to find pictures of steatorrhea on the web and there is nothing out there to help. I have occasionally had stools that look similar to the following:

http://xbd.xanga.com/d75c036433d32145521996/b107825506.jpg

Would something like this be consistent with steatorrhea? It may seem gross to ask, but steatorrhea seems to be comorbid with a lot of potentially serious health problems. I've occasionally had pain in the middle of my back around times that I've had BMs like this one, and I'm left to wonder if that's my pancreas causing the pain or if I simply have back pain (I don't have the best posture and sometimes have a guitar weighing down on my back and shoulders all weekend, so I don't know what to make of the pain).

ANY help/advice would be appreciated, especially from someone that has had or frequently has steatorrhea. Thank you in advance.
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calgal37 responded:
It's a bit difficult to tell from the picture. But basically steatorrhea is an excess fat in feces. Stools may float - but not always - or have an oily appearance. There can also be a foul smell or some oily anal leakage.

The fat can be present due to pancreatic issues, but it can also result from problems such as celiac disease.

If you think you're experiencing an oily discharge, check with your doc and ask for some testing to be done.
 
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An_201516 replied to calgal37's response:
Thank you for your response, CalGal37. Has anyone else here been diagnosed with "IBS" and have bowel movements of this consistency? (see picture) Is that something to be worried about, or just a natural occurrence depending on what you've eaten and the fact that IBS sometimes causes you to go back and forth between harder and softer stools?
 
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An_201517 replied to An_201516's response:
Also, as far as testing is concerned...how should I bring this up to my doctor if I want to pursue more testing? I have already had:

colonoscopy
upper endoscopy
bloodwork (CBC, metabolic panel, TSH)
chest x-ray (for cough)
abdominal x-ray (nearly 2 years ago, though)

So far nothing abnormal has been found, with the exception of a small hiatal hernia on my upper endoscopy and some very mild esophageal irritation. I ocassionally get some reflux symptoms from that, though they are very mild. On top of all this, I have a brief history of panic disorder/anxiety, so I think at times my physicians think I am making a "mountain out of a mole hill." Thus I fear they are likely to say, "You've been having these symptoms for nearly two years and we haven't found anything plus you're still here - what's left to test?" Or they may say, "This is your anxiety manifesting itself as pain - there's nothing wrong with you."

I just had the colonoscopy less than two years ago, and the upper endoscopy just a few months ago. I'm hesitant to schedule yet another colonoscopy due to the high cost / small likelihood (it seems) that they would find anything. On top of that, I'm not sure what else my gastroenterolist would want to do (if anything). He's given me a fairly extensive workup and found nothing of any serious concern, so I don't know what else to do.

Just yesterday I had HORRIBLE lower abdominal pain while having bowel movements, and I went to the bathroom probably eight or nine times throughout the day. The very first bowel movement was a ketchup-like consistency (sorry for the details) of normal color and the rest were like typical diarrhea - small pieces. On one occcasion, I passed nothing but little pieces of mucus and one of them was bloody (bright red blood). I don't know whether or not to think this was probably just a hemorrhoid since it was bright red or what, but I'm also leary of going through the entire colonscopy predecure again if it's not likely to show anything and I'm already feeling a little better today.

I already eat healthy and exercise almost daily - I maintain a healthy weight, sleep with my head elevated, don't eat before bedtime, etc...I'm doing practically everything I can to stay healthy. For the most part I am healthy, but I have these ocassional periods of pain and strange bowel habits take me from the "I'm OK" track to the "what in the world is wrong with my body" track. I can't seem to find and hang onto the confidence that I am truly well when all of this happens. I'm only 26 with no family history of any of these problems.

Thanks for the advice, and does anyone else here with IBS have similar symptoms? Thank you.
 
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An_252749 replied to An_201517's response:
Hey An_201517... I realise it's 3 years since you posted this. I'm wondering if you ever got any answers or even a cure for these symptoms?
 
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KRNMSN replied to An_252749's response:
I did not write the original posting but this sounds like a problem my mother has. She had her gall bladder removed a year ago and still has abd. pain just about everyday, she has lost 30 pounds over this time frame. She has has CT scan, upper and lower GI which show nothing. She does have several stools through out the day as well, some are watery and some almost normal. Any suggestions for her.
 
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Anon_62823 replied to An_252749's response:
Hi An_252749,

This is the original poster - after nearly three years, my digestive issues seem to be far less severe and mostly dormant, although they do seem to reappear from time-to-time. Lately, my stool has been completely normal in shape, color and consistency. My weight hasn't fluctuated greatly in quite a while (still hovering around 155).

Most of my problems have transitioned from being IBS-related to being GERD-related. I've begun having more issues with a particular type of GERD known as LPR, which doesn't present with the typical heartburn issues of GERD, but instead presents with a dry chronic cough, throat clearing and that feeling of a lump in the throat. I recently met with an ENT who said that the opening to my esophagus was extremely inflamed and put me on a course of Prilosec twice a day for two months. I've having difficulty coming off of the Prilosec without my symptoms reappearing, so I may be headed back to my original gastroenterologist again soon unfortunately.

My only suggestions for these types of problems would be to begin exercising and continue to do so (exercise promotes digestive system activity and will likely help to improve your stool habits), as that combined with healthy eating has helped me tremendously with my initial problems. It isn't helping with the GERD, but I'm working on finding an effective way to deal with that.

Best of luck and let me know if I can provide any other helpful information.
 
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southernbelle824 replied to Anon_62823's response:
I have also experienced this in the last few months. Sending me to the ER. I was diagnosed with gastritis and I also already have IBS. I have been taking digestive enzymes and slippery elm and that has helped a lot with the pain and bloating and discomfort. I fluctuate from semi formed to formed to what I call soft serve like a ice cream...sorry....and then mucous. Seen GI, had tests, scans. Stated was IBS flare up. I have under gone a lot of stress. i.e. death of parents, grandmother, etc and laid off from nursing job. So, it seems it is IBD/gerd related. I started a low carb diet and has made a major difference in my GERD part of it.


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