Intestinal Fortitude


My stomach is NOT my friend! I am lucky enough to swing from constipation to diarrhoea in less than the blink of an eye.

Research findings from the Walton Centre in the UK report that the small bowel in FM sufferers (and when it comes to IBS, we are definitely sufferers!) shows overgrowth of abnormal bacteria. The study demonstrated an increased intestinal permeability that produces increased hyperactivity of the intestines. Intestinal permeability means abnormal substances gain access to the body and alter its immune function.


According to reports in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, constipation or infrequent stools occur in 30% of FM sufferers. Constipation is defined as having a bowel movement less than three times a week. Some individuals complain of abdominal pain and straining to move the bowels in conjunction with the constipation.


Clinical Nurse Specialist describes diarrhoea occurring in up to 90% of FM sufferers. Individuals describe a pressing urge to move the bowels as well as passage of unformed stool. Diarrhoea occurs along with high levels of anxiety. Reports in the Journal of Nutrition indicate ingestion of probiotics decreases the symptoms of diarrhoea.

Fecal Incontinence

The Journal of Psychosomatic Research reports 2% to 7% of individuals with FM report uncontrolled passage of stool. This fecal incontinence transpires frequently in concurrence with diarrhoea and creates major problems in daily life. If it has ever happened to you, you never want to leave the house again (or, at least, without knowing where the closest toilet is!)

gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

According to the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, gastroesophageal reflux disease describes the condition where food travels backward from the stomach into the oesophagus. The oesophagus is the tube connecting the mouth to the stomach. Characteristic symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease include epigastric pain, a sensation of fullness, and heartburn. gastroesophageal reflux disease and other intestinal problems occur in 50% of FM sufferers.

I have tried some (very expensive) probiotics without any improvement. Basically, I make sure that I have a constant supply of Imodium, Buscopan and Durolax on hand, at all times.

Has anyone found something that works (not just on symptoms)?


Gastric Reflux & FM – More Sleep Problems?

FibroMAGICians are also prone to developing other ailments, gastric reflux being one of them. And if gastric reflux and fibromyalgia strike together, it is essential that you address both conditions as early as possible.

Do you get this problem?

I have a lap-band, as well as all of the above. So when I have a problem, I never know which thing is acting up.

Gastric reflux is a common problem for many people now, effecting around 6% of the population. The reflux occurs because the acids produced in the stomach for digestion purposes escape out of the stomach and splash up into the esophagus.

The reflux occurs when the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES), a muscle that separates the esophagus from the stomach, fails to close properly. When this happens, the acids and food from the stomach can freely move into the esophagus.

Symptoms that suggest you are suffering from gastric reflux are a burning sensation in the throat, chest pains, nausea, cough and difficulty swallowing.

So, how does gastric reflux affect fibromyalgia?

For FibroMAGICians, they will generally find the almost-always present sleep problems more difficult if gastric reflux occurs. The sleep disturbances of fibromyalgia can become a complete deprivation of sleep when gastric reflux gets in the way.

Some people believe that fibromyalgia is caused by sufferers failing to reach deep stages of sleep. On the other hand, other suggests that sleep disturbance is a symptom of fibromyalgia. No matter which view you take, the lack of proper sleep can worsen any condition.

One of the main complications of gastric reflux is that it can worsen at night while we are sleeping. The reason for this is as we are lying down it is easier for the acid to leak out of the LES and into the esophagus.

If you decide to try some of the over-the-counter medications to relieve the feeling, be sure to tell the pharmacist that you have fibromyalgia and if you are taking any medications.

You could also consider changing your sleeping position to try to keep the acids in your stomach while you’re sleeping. Sleeping with your head and upper body elevated is the most favorable position.

When it comes to diet, some of the options are rather depressing:

  • Be sensible with your food choices, avoid spicy foods and drinks that contain caffeine as these can aggravate reflux symptoms.
  • Stay away from alcohol and try to eat smaller meals more often rather than eating big meals in one go. This will take the pressure off your digestive system as it breaks down and processes the food.
  • It is also recommended to not eat in the 3 hours before going to bed, again to allow your digestive system to do its work before you lie down.

Alleviating the effects of gastric reflux for fibroMAGICians is crucial as it can really improve your sleep, which is vital (and we need all the help we can get!)