Be careful with stool samples

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Be careful with stool samples

But what is true about these claims? And: How risky can intestinal fungi be for our health? asked a bowel specialist.

Fungi occur naturally in the environment and can be found everywhere – also in humans. Among other things, the fungi, including the yeast Candida albicans, can be detected in the large intestine. But what effects does this have on the intestinal flora?

"Colon fungi are usually harmless"

"Even if something else is often said – intestinal fungi are usually completely harmless", says Professor Gerhard Rogler, expert of the Gastro-Liga e. V. and gastroenterologist at the University Hospital Zurich. "Over-colonization only occurs with a severely weakened immune system, for example in the course of chemotherapy, an AIDS disease or after a stem cell transplant."

Overgrowth of intestinal fungi – there is no danger for healthy people

Long-term antibiotic therapies and the diabetes mellitus can also promote the pathological spread of the fungi. Then it is possible that ulcers may form in the intestine or that the fungi can spread to other organs via the intestinal mucosa. According to the intestinal expert, healthy people do not have to worry that the fungi in their intestines will gain the upper hand.

Findings of fungal infections in the course of a stool examination are normal and by no means indicate a disease. Up to 10,000 mushrooms per gram of stool are harmless. Doctors only speak of a fungal overgrowth if the amount exceeds 1,000,000 per gram. Treatment is only given if the intestinal flora is disturbed due to the proliferation and corresponding digestive problems. However, this is only necessary in very rare cases, according to Rogler. And then you need special antimycotics, i.e. fungicidal drugs.

Be careful with stool samples

According to the gastroenterologist, an examination without the presence of symptoms makes no sense. "In general, caution should be exercised with such stool samples"says the expert. "Often the findings are incorrect. Depending on the weather, storage time and transport conditions on the way to the laboratory, the fungi multiply accordingly. For this reason, a reliable diagnosis of its presence in the patient is often not possible."

Mushroom diets – scientifically not proven effect

Rogler also thinks little of the frequently recommended mushroom diets, which are accompanied by a strict ban on sugar and carbohydrates. "Fungi belong to us and are part of the normal gut microbiota. You can neither starve nor drive it completely out of the intestine – you don’t have to either"he emphasizes.  

According to the expert, the reasons why fungal diets can relieve flatulence and irritable bowel symptoms in some patients include changes in the bacterial intestinal flora, reduced production of intestinal gases and altered osmotic properties of the intestinal contents due to the lack of sugar. As far as we know today, this has nothing to do with it "starved" To do mushrooms. In addition, there is no evidence that a sugar-free diet reduces the number of fungi in the intestines.

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Intestinal fungi are often wrongly suspected

It has also not been scientifically proven that intestinal fungi lead to diseases such as arteriosclerosis, joint problems, migraines, depression or persistent exhaustion. "For this reason, complex and often costly treatment methods such as stool enemas, detoxification or the said fungal diets are not effective and therefore not necessary"says Rogler.

Ania C. suffered from severe migraine attacks for years. Extreme exhaustion, tiredness and stomach problems were constant companions. Then every morning her nose started burning like it had "Chili powder sniffed". She was at a loss – just like the doctors. Now she knows what is causing her symptoms: She is histamine intolerant. Have a relaxed meal? Impossible for them.

Ania C. has suffered from migraines all her life. The symptoms increased over the years. At some point the headache attacks accompanied her almost daily. There was also exhaustion, weakness and tiredness. Digestion also caused problems for the now 40-year-old: She suffered more and more often from gas, diarrhea and abdominal cramps.

Ania C. suffers from a histamine intolerance. (Source: private)

A stinging nose like chili powder

"When my mother died, I felt even worse. I couldn’t eat anything without it coming right back. I attributed this to the mental pain and emotional stress. When my nose burned so badly every morning as if I had sniffed chilli powder, I knew that something was wrong with my body", she tells. 

"There were days when I couldn’t"

Ania visits different doctors, endures a lot of examinations – without a final diagnosis. Some doctors also see the extreme psychological stress as a trigger. "There were days when I couldn’t. I just felt bad then"she remembers. "The worst moment was an evening that actually started beautifully. I went to eat, toasted with alcohol and then went dancing. It started at home: I had a real breakdown with breathing problems, diarrhea and vomiting at the same time, circulatory problems and my legs were shaking really badly. I was very afraid." 

A lack of enzyme causes histamine to overshoot

At some point Ania became aware of the subject of histamine intolerance and realized that the symptoms were right. She goes to the doctor again and specifically addresses her suspicion. An elimination diet creates clarity: She suffers from a histamine intolerance. In the case of a metabolic disorder, the body’s own messenger substance histamine cannot be kept in balance. The intestine does not produce enough diamine oxidase (DAO). This enzyme is responsible for breaking down the messenger substance histamine in the body. 

Histamine intolerance: symptoms depend on the histamine dose

The body produces histamine as part of the immune system. The body also receives the substance from certain foods. These include tomatoes, ripe fruit, cheese, fish, sausage, spinach, eggplant, legumes, chocolate and nuts. Alcohol and nicotine also make histamine production soar, as do exercise, nicotine and stress. If there is too much histamine in the body, symptoms similar to food poisoning, an allergy or a cold occur. This includes

Headache, sweating, racing heart, insomnia, nausea, diarrhea, gas, abdominal cramps, difficulty breathing, reddening of the skin and swelling.

The intensity of the symptoms depends on the dose of histamine in the body.

Only symptom-free with a strict diet

"Only if I follow a strict diet will I be fine with histamine intolerance. I completely renounce alcohol"says Ania. But it doesn’t just have to know what to do without. You have to think carefully about how to plan your diet in order to prevent nutritional deficiencies. "And sometimes I just feel like eating certain food, for example a piece of meat, that I still eat it. Even if I know I won’t be fine afterwards. But I only do that when I’m at home and there are no appointments."

Stress increases symptoms of histamine intolerance

Ania also has to be careful not to exercise too much and to allow her body enough sleep and rest. "If I am stressed, I immediately notice that the symptoms increase", she says. Hurdles often await Ania in everyday life too. If she goes out to eat, she always has to ask what’s in it. Just buy a sandwich – she can’t. "I can never just choose what I feel like doing. It’s annoying. But that’s still better than going through the day with a headache and diarrhea." 

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It took Ania almost a year and a half to organize her everyday life with histamine intolerance in such a way that she is doing as well as possible. "It was a tough road. But I’m happy to finally know what’s wrong with me – and to be able to do something. And I always have my emergency drops with me. That calms you down."

Abdominal pain and diarrhea are common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. However, there is no sustainable treatment for the dysfunction. Instead, those affected can alleviate their symptoms with the right diet or medication.

Food for a healthy intestinal flora
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Irritable bowel syndrome as a cause of cramping abdominal pain

The diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome describes a dysfunction of the bowel. The technical name of the disease is "Irritable bowel syndrome" (RDS). Affected people have different symptoms that are not permanent but often appear in certain situations such as stress. According to the guidelines of the German Society for Digestive and Metabolic Diseases (DGVS), some signs must be present for an irritable bowel diagnosis. According to this, chronic, cramp-like abdominal pain or flatulence must usually be accompanied by changes in bowel movements and last longer than three months. In addition, a doctor must confirm that the pain is related to the bowel. It is also typical that the symptoms are so severe that the quality of life is severely impaired and there are still no signs of specific illnesses.

Irritable Bowel Diet: How to Relieve Abdominal Pain 

So far there is no means with which the dysfunction can be treated permanently and sustainably. Those affected should try changing their diet and discuss this with their doctor. A previously kept food diary, which the patient presents to the doctor, can help in drawing up an individual nutrition plan. There are different diet tips depending on the symptoms that are primarily causing you problems:

If you are primarily struggling with gas and abdominal pain, avoiding fiber and gassy vegetables whenever possible. Avoiding foods like legumes, garlic, nuts, almost all cabbage, yeast, and soft fruit will help you. Herbal remedies such as peppermint oil, caraway seeds, aniseed or fennel are recommended as they help with flatulence.

Why does yeast cause stomach ache? When exposed to heat, yeast reacts with sugar and oxygen to form carbon dioxide. The gas makes the dough nice and airy, but causes flatulence and abdominal pain in the intestines. Fresh bread and yeast pastries are therefore rather unfavorable for irritable bowel patients. Sourdough bread is a better alternative.

In the case of diarrhea, it is advisable that you also try to eat a low-fiber diet and also greatly reduce the consumption of dairy products. Avoiding alcohol and caffeine can also help. Preparations with psyllium husks can also help, as they swell in the intestines and thicken the food.

If constipation is the problem, you should have breakfast regularly and ideally include fiber such as bran in your breakfast. It is also important here that you drink a lot and try to eat as many fruits and vegetables as possible.

Further therapy options for irritable bowel syndrome

In addition to a change in diet, combined psychotherapeutic treatment against irritable bowel syndrome and cramp-like abdominal pain can also help. The main aim is to improve awareness and expression in irritable bowel syndrome. In doing so, you will learn to describe your feelings precisely, which often improves bowel function. There is no patent remedy here, but you can sometimes learn to deal better with the disease and thus supplement drug treatment and dietary changes in a meaningful way.

Drugs can be loud "Pharmaceutical Newspaper" namely only the symptoms are treated. If the patient is plagued by cramping abdominal pain, butylscopolamine, mebeverine and peppermint oil may be suitable. However, discuss with your doctor beforehand which medications are suitable for you individually.

Test and nutrition tips: How to recognize and treat an irritable bowel dysfunction: This helps with an irritable stomach. Intestinal complaints: These things are good for the intestine Intestinal health: These foods balance your intestinal flora

If you are plagued by cramping abdominal pain, it doesn’t have to be irritable bowel syndrome. An exact result should only be diagnosed by the doctor. During and during a treatment, it is recommended that you protect your stomach and expose yourself to little stress. Even simple warmth compresses can help to relieve your stomach pain or stomach cramps.

Sources used: Pharmaceutical newspaper German Society for Digestive and Metabolic Diseases

For most people, pain in the anus is not only uncomfortable, but also embarrassing. Serious illnesses can be behind complaints. 

One of the most common diseases of the rectum is anal eczema. This is an acute or chronic inflammation of the anal region. Itching is characteristic of this eczema. In the worst case, the skin can look like raw meat, oozing and bleeding. If these symptoms occur, those affected should see a doctor immediately. 

Sitz baths and creams help

According to the professional association of coloproctologists in Germany (BCD), anal eczema is caused by damage to the skin caused by secretions from the anus. This is the case with a fistula or fecal incontinence. Incorrect personal hygiene, hyperhidrosis (profuse sweating) or anatomical malformations can also trigger the disease.

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As part of the diagnosis, the doctor first clarifies what caused the eczema.