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What does it mean if fiber supplements work? How long to continue?
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What does it mean if fiber supplements work? How long to continue?

I have had diarrhea daily for about two months.  Prior to that I have always had loose stools.  I posted under the title Malabsorption with my test results - which are all negative.  I still have a endoscopy and colonoscopy procedure scheduled.  My Dr suggested fiber supplements for the two week period between when I saw him and when my other tests are scheduled.  

I am seeing a difference.  I have less bowel sounds and a more normal stool at least 50% of the time.  If fiber supplements are working, what does this indicate.  I always thought fiber was for those people that were constipated.  I have had a very good diet in the past so I'm puzzled as to why fiber supplements are necessary for me.  I realize I need to discuss this with my doctor but do some people take these long term?  Am I only masking the symptoms of something more serious?
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Glad you found something that helps. It could be that you just have IBS. Loose stools are sometimes caused by food being pushed through too quickly, and fiber has a way of regulating the contractions of the intestine so that things move at a more normal pace. I don't remember whether you said you've had an upper GI series with small bowel follow through, but that test can help determine how smoothly the muscles of your intestine are working.

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Thanks for your continued support.  Your answers have been helpful.  A couple of more questions:
1)  I had a simple fecal fat test.  I did not have the 72 hr test.  If I had pancreatic dysfunction would have it showed up in the simple test?
2)The main relief I am getting from the fiber is that the food does seem to stay with me longer.  I still have loose stools but I actually feel better - not so emaciated.
3)  I would also tend to be thinking about IBS but I did lose weight over a period of two months and I didn't think that was a symptom of IBS.
4)  I'm having an endoscopic procedure but that isn't the same as a small bowel series - or is it?

Thanks so much
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1) I had a simple fecal fat test. I did not have the 72 hr test. If I had pancreatic dysfunction would have it showed up in the simple test?

When you say the "simple" test, I think maybe you mean the QUALITATIVE rather than QUANTITATIVE test -? That one just tells whether there is any fat or not, not how much. I'm sorry I don't know the answer to your question for certain, but I have read (in the Merck manual) that pancreatic function needs to be impaired by about 90% or more for there to be steatorrhea (stool fat).

2)The main relief I am getting from the fiber is that the food does seem to stay with me longer. I still have loose stools but I actually feel better - not so emaciated.
3) I would also tend to be thinking about IBS but I did lose weight over a period of two months and I didn't think that was a symptom of IBS.

I didn't either until I finally gave up looking for a "serious" diagnosis, and just concentrated on gaining back the 35 pounds I had lost. I did have some positive test results, but a thorough search - and I mean THOROUGH - found no disease. I don't want to diminish your symptoms in any way or suggest that you shouldn't continue pursuing a diagnosis - I think you SHOULD. I'm just saying that I went through pretty much what you describe and they handed me an IBS diagnosis. That was about 10 years ago.

4) I'm having an endoscopic procedure but that isn't the same as a small bowel series - or is it?

Not the same... endoscopy is you being sedated and them passing a tube down your throat that they look through and take little biopsy samples with. Colonoscopy is the same thing at the other end. You shouldn't feel a thing in either case.

A small bowel series is an x-ray procedure - same as an "upper GI", where you drink barium and they take pictures to watch it go down. It's simple and non-invasive, you just lie there. When you have the "small bowel follow-through" version of an upper GI you wait around and every 30 or 40 minutes they call you back in to take more pictures. This way they track the barium until it reaches your colon. It takes anywhere from 1-4 hours, and it gives them a good idea what kind of motility you have.

Please keep us posted on what happens and how you're doing.
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