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Help: Acute stomach pain and lasting fatigue after exercising

For over two years now I have had severe abdominal pains and other effects following any prolonged exercise. I have seen 7-8 different doctors including a gastro-specialist. There are many symptoms involved and an unrolling story so I will try to be as concise and detailed as possible. I put a full list of symptoms at the bottom.

It began in the fall of 2017. I was a college distance runner for the University of Idaho and going into my junior year of XC I was in the best shape of my life. While this ailment grew gradually, I do remember the day that it started, about one week before my first race. It felt like a really rough day, as if I was out of shape and had no energy. It was a hard practice, so I chalked it up to a sick bug and moved on. The next week at my race I had a poor performance and became very sick for the ensuing 2 days, no energy, and acute pain in my stomach. Real concern came the following week when once again, despite being in great shape, I had a sub-par performance and became very sick same as I did after my previous race. After meeting with my coach and trainer, I started trying new eating habits and decided to go gluten-free for the time-being in case that was aggravating me.

But as I continued, I began to notice additional fatigue after harder workouts and became more and more weak as the weeks went on. Once my coach decided I was in no shape to race we saw a doctor who pre-emptively diagnosed me with a stomach ulcer and recommended I reduce stress (I also got a prescription for omeprazole). It continued to get worse though and I continued to not race. It began to go from ‘hard workouts are difficult to get through and recover from’ to ‘I can’t do any hard workouts’ to ‘I can’t do some easy days’. This all came over the span of several months and while some days/weeks were easier than others, it more or less continually worse.

This whole time I went around from different doctors, tried different diets including no dairy, no sugar, no nightshades, no gluten and many combinations in between. Nothing seemed to help or change the fact that I almost always had acute stomach pain after workout, extreme fatigue and slow recovery after aerobic exercise, mental fog and fatigue grew worse, loose bowels after exercise. There is no short list of what I got tested for, including stool and blood samples, but never were any irregularities found. I started seeing a GI specialist who methodically started checking certain diagnoses off the list in between long periods of testing and trials with different prescriptions, none of which helped.  The final test came when we conducted an endoscopy which found my gut to be clean and in healthy condition. I was also tested for Crohns and celiac, both of which came back negative. At that point he had crossed off all the boxes and said his only long shot guess was that it could be mesenteric ischemia, for which I would need to see a cardiologist and get a lot of different tests.

This timing coincided with me deciding to quit the track team in March of 2018. With no light at the end of the tunnel I couldn’t continue to run my body into the ground. I could hardly practice and my mental fog had gotten so bad I could hardly pay attention in class. Rather than continue on an expensive goose chase (no longer on University budget) I decided to not continue finding diagnosis and see if time and rest would heal me. It took about 6 months of not running for my body to start feeling normal again. I was seeing holistic doctors during this time as well to help with my recovery. But I am a very active person and as I began to feel better, I slowly entered back into the occasional light jog interspersed with basketball. I would get pangs and fatigue every once in a while that reminded me it was there, but not prolonging exercise helped me plod along. It was mostly fine until in the spring of 2019 I did a road race with some friends and for the first time since track I pushed my body for an extended period and sadly came out of that weekend feeling the same as I did after that first race…sick, painful, bowel movement etc.. This became more normal again where I would do different activities and gamble if my stomach would act up or not. Recently it got worse again as pain has become more frequent after activity and my energy levels have dipped along with the accompaniment of brain fog. I want to figure out what this is but after seeing so many doctors with no results I don’t know where to start.

Here is a list of all the symptoms I have after exercise:

Typical symptoms: Stomach pain/nausea, lightheaded, weak/fatigue, difficulty breathing, heavy/fast heartbeat, coughing, loose bowel movement, long recovery
Other symptoms: Flush face (passed out once in a workout), blood pooling in hands/feet/knees mid workout, metallic taste in mouth, headache
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973741 tn?1342342773
So, question.  Have you had your thyroid checked?  An overactive thyroid can cause these types of issues.  Hypothyroidism. I have an XC runner as well, my son.  He is younger, still in high school.  He's a Varsity guy and the team made it all the way to state this year, so a fast group. But he was plagued with stomach issues. He's getting ready to start track and we will see if this resurfaces but a trainer made a suggestion that we look into hyperthyroidism and Graves disease for him.  The runs or BM due to running is a documented problem that many distance runners have but this sounds like more than that. Have you ever read about Grave's disease? A blood test would determine if it is the case.  We'll pursue looking into that if the problem persists for my son but just something to consider for you.
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