Irritable Bowel Syndrome/any advice appreciated!


Hello, I have been struggling with a wide range of symptoms for years. Let me preface by saying I grew up with homeless parents and was not able to seek medical car for anything. I am now 22 and having issues. They range from acid reflux, sharp pain in my left shoulder & left chest, constant fatigue, random vertigo, extreme stomach distention where i look 9 months pregnant, heart palpitations, gas & indigestion every time i eat,i have had pin worm very often since being a child (im 22 now),It is more difficult to breath when I lay flat, I often cough up phlegm, etc. The list goes on and on. Also, A nurse at my college told me I have a heart murmur and should get an echo. Cant afford that, and don't have insurance. I am burnt out on all of this, and It has caused me to start having severe anxiety attacks. There is no gastroenterologist on this website at the time, thought Id ask here. Thank you for anything !!!!!

Hi Ashley - I am so sorry for all that you have gone through. I hope you have some insurance options that become available through your state or federal ACA programs. It would be a very good idea for you to have a thorough work up for the GI issues and possible heart murmur.

I can't diagnose you, but I can say that while some of your symptoms fit the criteria for IBS, all of them do not.

You can make the dietary changes and stress management changes that will help IBS - they won't hurt you if you don't have IBS. Start here for diet info.

Please see if there are any affordable primary care options for you to have some basic tests run. You are young, and I don't think you have any glaring red flag symptoms, so you might not need to have much done for a solid diagnosis you can work with.

Best wishes to you,

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

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Heather Van Vorous


I can address questions regarding diet, cooking, recipes, and non-pharmaceutical supplements (soluble fiber, herbal, probiotics, etc.) for IBS. I can supply information sources about diagnostic guidelines, symptoms, and the medical pathology of IBS, but I cannot give a diagnosis or analyze test results a patient has obtained. I would prefer not to answer questions about prescription drugs and diagnostic tests. PLEASE DO NOT TELL ME YOUR SYMPTOMS AND THEN ASK ME TO DIAGNOSE YOU!


I'm the founder and CEO of, an organization dedicated to serving people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. My goal is to offer education, support, and help that allows people with IBS to successfully manage their symptoms through lifestyle modifications.

I'm the author of Eating for IBS, the only explicit dietary guide and cookbook for people with bowel disorders. Eating for IBS then led to my second book, The First Year: IBS, a comprehensive view of the disorder and every way to successfully manage it. Together, these works have become the two best-selling, best-reviewed IBS books in America.

My writing has led to an ongoing Canadian clinical research study of the groundbreaking dietary guidelines for Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Eating for IBS; this work also led to my inclusion in the 4th edition of Who's Who in Medicine and Healthcare. Today's Dietitian has featured my IBS dietary guidelines, and my work has reached gastroenterologists and internists. I'm the author of "Heather's IBS Newsletter", which is free to subscribers and is published twice monthly. As a result, I've become recognized as the foremost patient-expert on IBS in America. I've personally had IBS since age 9.

I now teach classes on managing IBS through lifestyle modifications, I developed the Heather's Tummy Care line of organic medical foods for the dietary management of IBS, and I'm planning to work with corporate HR departments to offer employee IBS education programs. I host Heather Cooks!, the Seattle television cooking show for good digestive health, which is now available on DVD and also on the HelpForIBS YouTube Channel.

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M.A. 1996
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Eating for IBS Finalist for an IACP Julia Child Cookbook Award 2001

Eating for IBS #17 on the Library Journal's Cookbook Bestseller list for 2000

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