Do these symptoms mean I should get a colonoscopy?

My question is about the necessity of a colonoscopy and the sensible timeline for getting one.

I'm 24 and have been having bowel disturbances for about five months -- frequent (at least 4-6 times/day) bowel movements, bloating and gas every evening, and about once a month or two some light rectal bleeding. Besides bloating dull ache, I feel occasional sharp pain in my lower left abdomen.

Have done tests to rule out common viral/bacterial infections and ulcerative colitis and tried IBS medicine for a month (not much help).

Saw bowel specialist who is having me get some blood work and another pathogen test done. He recommended a colonoscopy to check for inflammation.

Now, I'm from the US but currently work in New Zealand and would have to pay for the colonoscopy (about $1500-2000) out of pocket if I get it done here. If I wait until I come home in December, my US insurance would probably cover it.

I'm hoping for advice on any danger there could be in waiting. I guess I've gotten used to the symptoms and have found that changing my diet alleviates them a bit. If symptoms go away, would it be a bad idea to forego a colonoscopy all together?

I've read stories about younger people getting bowel cancer and having it go undetected because it's seen as a disease older people get, so that's in the back of my mind.

Complicating or perhaps explaining all this, I was on two courses of antibiotics for unrelated infections during the last four months and three other courses in the past year....and I have had severe food allergies all my life to dairy, nuts and shellfish. When I was younger I had minor allergies to wheat and soy.

I cut soy and wheat out of my diet in the past week and have found some symptoms have improved a bit.

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elsifis
9 Answers
Contributor
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Thanks for your post! This message is just to let you know that the doctors have been messaged about your post and should respond ASAP!

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Contributor
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I'm no doctor, but my friend has a lot of bowel problems in relation to using anti-biotics. She says that taking *pre*biotics and *pro*biotics alleviates a lot of her difficulties :)

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Diet changes will most likely help you and you should be fine to wait until December for a colonoscopy. Try to stay away from antibiotics until then; I know, easier said than done. (not an MD, just someone with lots of Gastro issues)

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The best thing to do would be to call your GI or colorectal doc and ask them if it can wait.

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You could have c diff from being antibiotics. Have a doctor test your stool for c diff or evaluate your symptoms. Ironically the treatment for c diff is another antibiotic (vancomycin or metronodazole). In the meantime definitely try probiotics (over the counter). I would hold off on the colonoscopy for now. --medical student

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Thanks for all the advice!

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Is there any family history of colon cancer or any other colon pathology? Describe the stool for us. There are times when younger patients do get colonoscopies (e.g. if you have HNPCC or Lynch syndrome, screening can start as early as 25 y.o or if you have a family hx of colon cancer). Your bowel specialist is correct in recommending a colonoscopy. I have no idea how ulcerative colitis was ruled out without having the colonoscopy w/ biopsies (bloodwork for ASCA and ANCA usually are done only if the diagnosis is not clear in IBS).

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I got cdiff from antibiotics and my symptoms were like yours.

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I'd try the GAPS diet or a low FODMAP diet. They're both great ways to deal with IBS that don't involve drugs and are cheap.

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