... It May Be Time to Consider a Different Diagnosis
There are thousands of people like you, who feel under attack by persistent, recurring symptoms like diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, and cramping. These attacks can come at any time, anywhere. But you could begin to fight back—if you knew what was going on.
Symptoms that may look like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), irritable bowel disease (IBD), or gastritis might have a different cause.
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And then talk to a gastroenterologist or other specialist to see if there is a diagnosis that may not have been considered.
Should You Ask About a Different Diagnosis?
Diarrhea or other gastrointestinal (GI) problems, including stomach issues, that keep coming back are one clue that you may need to reconsider your diagnosis. Other clues might not be GI-related at all. You might have an irregular heartbeat, difficulty breathing, or flushing (which resembles an intense blush or a deep red or purple color on the face and neck).
If you can relate to any of the symptoms in this figure, and if they keep recurring, it’s important to talk to a gastroenterologist or other specialist about a diagnosis that may not have been considered— ask about being tested for carcinoid syndrome. If you are not seeing a specialist, ask about being referred to one.
What Is Carcinoid Syndrome?
Carcinoid syndrome is a rare condition. It is recognized by a group of symptoms that can occur regularly and persist over time. The symptoms vary from person to person, but can include one or more of those described above.
Most people who seem to have symptoms similar to those of carcinoid syndrome do not have the disease. Sometimes, however, these symptoms may be caused by hormones released by an abnormal growth called a carcinoid tumor. Carcinoid tumors are difficult to diagnose. They are very uncommon and are usually small and slow-growing.
Also, because most carcinoid syndrome symptoms are similar to the symptoms of other, more common conditions, carcinoid syndrome often is misdiagnosed as a common GI issue, such as IBS.
Recognizing the pattern of symptoms (for example, diarrhea, flushing, and wheezing) is the first step toward diagnosing carcinoid syndrome.
The next step may be getting a referral to a gastroenterologist or other specialist, and then taking a urine test for 5-HIAA. 5-HIAA testing measures the amount of a by-product of serotonin in your body. An elevated level of 5-HIAA is an indicator of carcinoid syndrome.
Take Action in 2 Simple Steps
1. RECOGNIZE ALL OF YOUR SYMPTOMS
This will help you share all your symptoms and start the conversation about carcinoid syndrome with your doctor.
2. ASK A SPECIALIST ABOUT BEING TESTED
Talk to your gastroenterologist or other specialist about carcinoid syndrome and request 5-HIAA testing.
Be sure to tell your doctor about all of your symptoms, even the ones that don’t seem related to your stomach. If you don’t have a gastroenterologist or other specialist, ask if you can be referred to one.