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Date of last update: 10/15/2017.

Forum Name: Gastroenterology Topics

Question: Chrons with distended abdomen?

 Tuna&A1 - Mon Nov 12, 2007 12:12 am

I am a fit 31 year old male with very little body fat. At the first of this year I started to swell up in my abdomen. Now I look very pregnant (I believe I am the world's first pregnant male). My stomach is very tight and has very little fat. I went to the doctor thinking that I had celiac disease or lactose intolerance. They ran extensive tests including x-rays (without a die marker) blood, stool, ultrasound...eventually a cat scan as they thought they found cancer during the ultrasound. I was supposed to do a follow up upper gi series and potentially colonoscopy, but lost my insurance. About midway through it all I figured out that I have chron's, which is the only suspect left after everything else. When it all began I felt very full all the time like I had just eaten Thanksgiving dinner and had two helpings with several desserts. My stools varied and were sometimes spotted with blood. It has been a good 6 months and it has been very debilitating for me to say the least. I get frequent heartburn and tried prilosec with no results. I have been taking boswellin with carcumin and it seems to help. I tried bentonite clay for a while but cannot stomach it in applesauce or juice. My chron's affects me from my sternum all the way down and if it weren't for my rib cage my innards would be pushed up much farther. I am getting desperate enough to go back to the doctor despite not being able to afford it and seeing about anti-inflammatory. I am just worried about being on expensive pills for ever. I have not really lost any weight nor had constant diarrhea, for which I am grateful.

Is it common for my abdomen to be swelled up like I am very pregnant? Is it at all common to not lose weight nor to have frequent diarrhea (probably the same question)? I guess I need to know what you all think I should do? I can't very well keep doing nothing much longer if I am to remain intact (or so it feels). My abdomen never changes (it does not come and go), I just look like a pear and feel like my intestines are going to explode when I bend over at all. Help!
 Dr. Chan Lowe - Sat Nov 17, 2007 12:12 am

User avatar Hi Tuna&A1,

Crohn's disease can certainly cause most of the symptoms you are describing. The abdominal swelling would be a little unusual for Crohn's.

The thing I am concerned about with the abdominal swelling is that it may be a condition called ascites where there is a large amount of fluid that builds up in the abdominal cavity. This can be caused by poor nutrition that may result from Crohns, or it may be caused by a number of other conditions including liver dysfunction.

I think you probably need to see a GI specialist for further evaluation. If this is not possible, following up with your primary care doctor is very important. There are often clinics available that can see patients without insurance at a free or reduced fee scale. Your local health department can help you find these clinics if needed.

Best wishes.
 Tuna&A1 - Tue Nov 20, 2007 2:13 pm

If the distended abdomen were Ascites, would it show up on ultrasound and/ or a CT scan? I have had both, but after the ultrasound the focus changed to chasing a potential cancer so the doctor I saw may well have skipped over it as he was "squeezing me in."

It doesn't ever go away or change much. In six months it has stayed the same and literally looks like I am 5+ months pregnant. I am a very lean individual so it is very peculiar for me.

It doesn't ever really cramp, but aches all the time.

What would be the proper way to diagnose Ascites?
 Tuna&A1 - Tue Nov 20, 2007 2:35 pm

Additionally when reading up on Ascites it mentioned bulging at the flanks. I do have quite minor "love handles" but no real fat or bulging/distention there (even when reclining). It is all primarily up front from my waistline up to my sternum.
 Dr. Chan Lowe - Fri Nov 23, 2007 1:57 pm

User avatar Ascites would be visible both on an ultrasound and CT scan. There are really only a few causes of abdominal swelling and fluid in the abdomen (ascites) is near the top of the list.

I would recommend you talk to your doctor about this possibility. He may have simply not mentioned the finding.

Best wishes.

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