Hyperprolactenemia:Did this Cause my IBS?

April is IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome) awareness month. If you follow me on Facebook or Instragram, I shared my IBS story for IBS awareness month. In this post I also shared that a microadenoma was found on my pituitary gland. This causes the body to produce elevated levels of the hormone prolactin (usually high in pregnant or breastfeeding women). The condition is called hyperprolactenemia. April is also infertility awareness month, and since hyperprolactenemia affects fertility, I figured it would only be appropriate to end the month discussing a study that correlates IBS and hyperprolactenemia.

Hyperprolactenemia causes a variety of symptoms which include frequent headaches, blurred vision, loss of libido, milky discharge from nipples without being pregnant or breastfeeding,fertility issues, an absent menstrual period (in women), and erectile dysfunction (in men)

One of my followers commented that she also had irritable bowel syndrome and had a microadenoma. She was told the microadenoma likely caused her IBS symptoms. I decided to research this for myself.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. I’m not writing this post to self-diagnose, and you shouldn’t use the information I share to self-diagnose either. I’m writing to share my personal experience along with some research I found that correlates hyperprolactemia with irritable bowel syrndrome. Do with this information as you wish.

After learning another person experienced symptoms similar to what I experienced, I decided to do some additional research. As of now, only one study from 2011 has been published correlating IBS-C (constipation predominant) with hyperprolactenemia.

In this study, doctors in Greece studied a 16 year old female patient who complained of abdominal pain and constipation. She also experienced amenorrhea (absent menstrual period) due to a macroadenoma (large tumor on the pituitary gland). After her taking cabergoline to treat hyperprolactemia the patient’s symptoms went away.

This study was the first to find a correlation between IBS and elevated prolactin levels. A brain-gut neuropetide known as cholecytokinin (CCK) was also found in higher concentrations in IBS patients. CCK is found in the colon and ileum. It’s also found in the vagus nerve (near the brain stem) and in the celiac plexus (near the heart).

Because CCK is present in several areas of the body, it affects various bodily functions. Physical functions affected by CCK include gallbladder contraction and pancreatic enzyme secretion. CCK also affects motor and sensory functions like gut motility and gastric emptying. A 1983 study found that CCK helps to mediate the gastrocolonic response (Renny e.t. Al 1983).

The study from 2011 suggests a link between CCK and the prolactin releasing peptide (PrRP). CCK administered near PrPR neurons activates them causing high prolactin levels.

For example, a pituitary tumor might block secretion of PrRP. This sends a mixed signal to the brain which causes too much CCK to be produced. he main job of CCK in the colon is to prevent food from being digested too quickly. Since CCK aids in gut motility an overabundance can cause IBS-C.

Elevated prolactin levels are also seen in people with celiac disease and colon cancer. Both cause intestinal inflammation. Even those of us who suffer with IBS have mild inflammation in our intestines. As a result IBS patients have more T lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell that protects the body from infection) and mast cells (cells that release histamine and other substances during and inflamatory of allergic reaction). Both T lymphocytes and mast cells are associated with gut-brain communication and IBS. This suggests the possibility of elevated prolactin levels in IBS patients.

Keep in mind, this is a single case study. However, I did find it interesting that other people with IBS, especially IBS-C often have elevated prolactin levels. I don’t know if my IBS and microadenoma are related. If there is a correlation, it wouldn’t surprise me since I’ve dealt with IBS symptoms along with symptoms related to hyper prolactemia for between 15-20 years.

If you suspect that you might have any type of digestive disorder or hormonal imbalance I suggest scheduling an appointment with your primary doctor ASAP. I suffered for years due to not having my pain taken seriously, and not feeling comfortable discussing my symptoms. No one deserves to suffer in silence.

Lastly, if you’ve experienced similar symptoms I’d love to hear your story. What led you to get diagnosed? How long did you suffer before getting answers? Did your IBS symptoms go away after your pituitary tumor was treated?


20 Things to Do While in Quarantine

By this point most of us have lost count of how long we’ve been in quarantine. Our mental health is suffering. If you have kids, both you and them might be getting frustrated with online schooling. Maybe you’re getting bored waiting to go back to work…if you’re able to go back to work.

Today I’ll be sharing 20 things to do while in quarantine. Many of these are things I’ve done, or would like to do. While we may not like spending most of our time at home, we have an opportunity to learn about ourselves, complete unfinished tasks, or invest time into our hobbies.

Boots is in Zen mode.
  1. Meditate: You don’t need to be a zen master to meditate. If you can practice being still and clearing your mind for 15 minutes a day that’s plenty. You can listen to guided meditation, or find a video on YouTube with relaxing nature sounds like my loom knitting thunderstorm video.
  2. Start a gratitude and/ or prayer journal: During this time, it’s hard to be grateful. Much is uncertain in the world, and many of you might be unemployed. However, it’s still possible for each of us to find something to be grateful for each day, even if it’s just waking up. If you believe in prayer you can start a journal with daily prayers. If you’re not religious an, you can substitute prayer with affirmations or well wishes.
  3. Eat good food: Whether you’re testing new recipes or ordering take out from you favorite local restaurant, it’s important to enjoy the little things like a good meal. If you’re spending more time at home, now is the perfect time to experiment with new recipes, or learn how to cook from scratch. Personally I’ve been making sauces from scratch, and experimenting with gluten free baking. I might also attempt to make my first loaf of sourdough bread. (My sister is currently making a starter.
  4. Support local businesses: As mentioned in #3 it’s important to enjoy good food while in quarantine. If you’re not a cook, most local, family owned restaurants will appreciate your delivery order. Small businesses are suffering the most with these closures. If you have a favorite local business, now is a great time to support them. If you have the means order take-out or buy a gift certificate. If they have an online presence, order from their online store. If you live in the Milwaukee area and love to paint order a kit from Farmhouse Paint and Sip. They’re currently doing live classes on their Facebook Page.
  5. Do some spring cleaning: Now is the time to clean areas of your home that don’t get cleaned as often as they need. De-clutter and scrub the top of your fridge. Clean your windows and wipe down blinds or wash curtains. Dust those hard to reach areas of your home, or scrub the walls if needed. Along with following my typical cleaning routine, I’ve scrubbed my bathroom walls and wiped down the blinds and heat register in the bedroom.
  6. Rest: If you’re not working now is the time to get plenty of sleep (try to get around 8 hours if you can. I always feel my best with 7 or 9 hours lol). Along with sleep it’s okay to have the occasional lazy day where you watch Netflix all day and eat snacks.
  7. Get Dressed Every Day: You don’t need to get dressed up like you’re going to work, or like you’re going out. Just change out of your pajamas and into different clothes for the day. Depending on the weather I’ve been living in leggings, hoodies, sports bras, lounge pants/ shorts, and cotton dresses. Just change into something comfortable that you look and feel good in. Getting dressed helps keep you in a routine, and can help boost your mood even during these difficult times.
  8. Stay hydrated: I’m usually good about drinking enough water. However, since being home I’ve been forgetting to hydrate my body. As someone with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) it’s extra important for me to drink enough water. If like me, you’re also struggling with hydration aim to have a glass of water when you wake up, and about 30 minutes after each meal or snack during the day to prevent bloating. I also like to have one last cup of water before bed. If this doesn’t work for you, another option would be to keep a large/ gallon size water bottle with you and sip on it throughout the day. There are also smartphone apps that remind you to drink enough water.
  9. De-clutter your space: With being at home, you have more time to tackle projects you otherwise wouldn’t be able to complete. Have you been meaning to cull your wardrobe? Maybe you have stacks of papers from the the past decade that need to be sorted, or kitchen gadgets you bought but never used. Now is the time to pick an area of your home to de-cluttter. While you may not be able to drop items off at donation centers right now you still have options. If something is new or gently used consider selling it on a site like Poshmark or Mercari. You can still adhere to social distancing guidelines while removing unwanted items from your home. Another option would be to re-purpose items. Old t-shirts can be turned into wash cloths, dish rags, shop towels, or shopping bags. Check out my video to learn how to make your own reusable bags.
  10. Do a digital de-clutter: This is something I’m currently in the process of doing. Go through all of your social media accounts and unfriend or un-follow any inactive accounts, or anyone whose content is toxic to your mental-health. If you have differing opinions on politics with friends or family members, some platforms now allow you to either un-follow (while still being friends) or filter which content your see or don’t see. While your de-cluttering your social media accounts don’t forget to uninstall apps and on your devices that you no longer use, and organize your apps into folders based on categories. Do the same thing with documents and assorted media on your laptop or desktop too. Lastly, don’t forget to empty your inbox and unsubscribe from newsletters and store email lists that no longer bring you joy. Recently I discovered a website called Unroll.me which makes this process extremely simple. Unroll.me condenses all of your subscriptions into a list, and you select which subscriptions you want to keep and which ones you want to unsubscribe from. Unroll.me also lets you condense all your subscriptions into one email called a “roll up” which helps keep your inbox clutter free.
  11. Exercise: Despite being in quarantine we need to keep our bodies moving. I’m not talking about following a strict work-out routine either. Do what feels right for you and your body, even if it’s just a 10 minute walk or 15 minutes of yoga. Just like it’s important to stay hydrated, it’s also important to stay active.
  12. Research Sustainable companies and locally made products:Many of us are getting, or have already received our stimulus checks for COVID-19 relief. If you have the extra funds, now is the time to research sustainable companies and locally made products. This money is to help jump-start the economy once the pandemic is over. As mentioned previously small businesses are suffering, and it’s crucial to support them wherever possible. Big box stores and large chain restaurants will be fine after this. However, you can use this time to research brands and products that support your core values. If you’re against animal testing, research which companies do/ don’t test on animals. If you believe textile producers and coffee growers deserve a living wage and safe working conditions that provide these items to their employees (ect), and use your money to show that you support their values. While cash is currency, it talks. Money tells companies that their product is worthwhile and that you support that company’s business practices.
  13. Get Creative: Hospitals are still facing shortages of PPE and the CDC is no recommending everyone wear a mask while out in public. If you’re able to sew people still need masks. If sewing isn’t your strength you can also make masks for friends and family members out of various materials like shop towels and bandanas (neither require sewing). Along with making masks you cn also invest time in other crafts and hobbies. Do you want to learn how to knit or paint with water colors instead? Now is the time to do that.
  14. Read/listen to a new book or audiobook: Have you been wanting to do more reading but, don’t have time? Now is an excellent time to read that book you’ve been wanting to read, or listen to a few audiobooks if reading isn’t your thing. Scribd is personally my favorite subscription service. Your fist month is free (2 months free with my link), and after that you get unlimited books and audiobooks for $8.99/ month. Most other audiobook subscriptions give you a limited number of free books with your membership.
  15. Discover New Podcasts: Whatever your passionate about, or whatever you want to learn about, a podcast about it exists. You can search any major streaming service like pandora or spotify for podcasts. Even scribd and other aduiobook subscriptions provide the option to listen to podcasts.
  16. Pamper yourself:Now is the time to give yourself a little extra TLC. Feeling bold? Research how to cut and color your hair, and do it yourself. Give yourself a manicure or pedicure, and add some fun decals to your nails. Upgrade your skincare game with a facial or a sheet mask. Give your hair some extra love with a hair mask or hot oil treatment. Take a warm bubble bath with some luxurious bath salts or a fun bath bomb. Yes, you can have a glass of wine in the tub too.
  17. Learn how to make your own bath and body products:Salt and sugar scrubs are super easy to make and great for exfoliating your skin. I recently made a coffee sugar scrub with 1cup ground coffee, 1 cup sugar and 1/2 cup coconut oil. You can also make a face wash with 1 part castile soap to 3 parts water, and 10 drops tea tree oil. I use the same ratio for foaming hand soap but add 15 drops of any essential oil (usually lemongrass).
  18. Learn how to make plarn: If you still use plastic bags there’s a good chance you still acquire more than you need. Sure you can drop of your bags at the grocery store to recycle but, what fun is that? This video shows you how to make plarn aka “plastic bag yarn” which can be used to make water resistant mats for homeless people to sleep on. You can even make baskets and other various crafts with plarn.
  19. Start a garden:Depending where you live will determine whether or not you can start your garden outside. Here in Wisconsin we had an almost 80 Degree (farenheiht) day last week, and yesterday we had snow and temperatures just above freezing. At this point I’m glad the squirrels dug up my seeds. I still have to get some netting to go around my gate, and I’ll probably wait until May to re-plant everything. Anyway, regardless of how much or how little space you have you can start a garden. Most herbs can easily be grown in a window. You can also buy planter friendly seed packs which contain seeds that don’t need to be planted in the ground. This year I’m growing, oregano, basil, rosemary, chives, scallions, cucumbers, green beans, spearmint, and 2 different kinds of lettuce. I might also grow some catnip. However, Alex doesn’t want me attracting more stray cats to our yard (they might keep the squirrels and chipmunks away though).
  20. Create a chalk mural: Due to the pandemic many chalk drawing festivals have been cancelled this summer. If you have the sidewalk space create your own chalk mural. If you have kids they can help too. Even if you’re not artistically inclined you can write simple messages of hope, draw hearts, flowers, or anything that resembles spring.

There you have it! Here are 20 things you can do while stuck in quarantine. I did my best to incorporate a variety including self-care, supporting small businesses, and being creative. If you think I missed anything leave a comment below. Also, feel free to share anything you’ve done while in quarantine.

Your Feelings are Valid; Your Pain is Real. Coping During the Covid-19 Pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected each of our lives in one way or another. For some of us it’s a minor setback; grieving cancelled vacation plans and cancelled party plans. Others are grieving the loss of loved ones to this illness, or worrying about their health and well-being.Whatever feelings you have are valid. Your pain is also real.

I’ve kept quiet about my worries on social media. However, the mix of emotions I’ve experienced in the past few weeks are strong. Although I don’t often show my feelings, the anxiety is more real than ever. I know some of you with mental illnesses have remained calm until recently. Life with a mental illness like anxiety often prepares us for these circumstances. We see neurotypical people experience feelings we have on a daily basis. Some of us have struggled since the beginning of this pandemic. Again, your feelings are valid; your pain is real.

Today I’ll share some of my worries including some new anxieties I’m experiencing. You’re welcome to share your worries in the comments, or direct message me on instagram or facebook. While we might feel isolated during social distancing it’s important to reach out, even if you can’t reach out to someone in person.

General Mitchell Airport; Spring Break season 2020

img_20200323_071147If you read my last blog post, or followed me on social media you know I recently got laid off from my job. I don’t know when I’ll return to work. Along with being unemployed, like many I got locked out of my state’s unemployment website. According to the last email unemployment sent, it could be several days before I speak to someone.

On that topic, a third shift parking lot attendant at my workplace tested positive for COVID-19. I don’t know if a passenger exposed them to the virus, or they exposed the virus to people I interacted with on a daily basis. Over a week has passed since I’ve been laid off though. Knock on wood, I’m not showing symptoms. However, I worry that if I get sick, I’ll get someone else sick. I know I’m healthy enough where I’ll recover but worry about other people.

I also lost my insurance, and worry about finding supplemental health insurance during this time. Just before we started social distancing I got referred to an endocrinologist. I just found out I have a microadneoma on my pitutiary gland (small benign tumor). I also worry about having to cancel my 30th birthday party.

Another thing I worry about is human greed and lack of common sense. I understand wanting to wear a mask. In fact the CDC now recommends wearing a mask whether or not you’re showing symptoms. However, most people don’t need N95 masks. Unless you’re symptomatic or in direct contact with the sick an N95 isn’t necessary. If you’re hoarding these drop them off where they’re needed (hospitals, nursing homes ect). These people don’t deserve to go without due to human greed. All you need is something that is breathable and will prevent any potential germs from going airborne.

Lastly, I worry that people wearing gloves are going to spread the virus. I know this sounds controversial but, if you’ve ever worked in an industry where you sometimes use disposable gloves (healthcare, food service, childcare ect) you know gloves are used to prevent cross contamination. For that reason you change your gloves and wash your hands in between tasks. Most people don’t realize how many items they touch while wearing the same gloves, and that they’re only spreading the virus by wearing the same gloves most of the day. Another thing I’ve noticed is many people don’t know how to take gloves off in a way that contains potential pathogens while touching the gloves as little as possible. Despite all of this my biggest worry and frustration is people who dispose of their gloves in parking lots and shopping carts.

When you dispose of used gloves anywhere besides your home, you risk exposing others to potential pathogens including the essential employees who need to clean up your mess. Not to mention, those latex gloves you threw onto the ground could blow into the face of someone with a latex allergy. If you’re going to wear gloves you should be changing them more frequently than you’d wash your hands, and you should at least wash your hands or use hand sanitizer in between.

I’m not telling anyone what to do. However, you might want to research cross contamination before determining whether you want to wear gloves. In my personal opinion you’re better off washing your hands in between stores or using hand sanitizer. However, if you feel better using hand sanitizer you need to rub it into your skin like you would soap.

I apologize if the end of this post sounds condescending. Unfortunately, the amount of greed and ignorance I’ve seen in my area has me concerned. Despite the greed and ignorance I’ve seen a lot of kindness too. I’m sure many of you are worried about some of the things I’m worried about. Maybe your anxieties are quite different from mine. Either way, we’re in this together. If you’re hurting during this, I see you, and I’m here to talk. As always, remember to wash your hands, stay safe, and give excess hoarded supplies to those who need them most.

Grocery shopping during the coronavirus: Wash your hands, keep your distance and limit trips By Ann Maloney April 2 The Washington Post

Dr. Siegel: Why wearing gloves at grocery store is not necessarily a good idea- FOX News Flash

Who Knew Grocery ShoppingCould be so Stressful? The New York Times

Images: Canva MKE Airport photo is mine and unedited.