The use of a food diary to record symptoms

Dear Ask The Doctor:  Hi, I have had this problem for quite a while now (a couple years), but I never thought too much about it, I just thought I had a weak stomach. However now I'm looking more into it. What is wrong is that more often or not, when I eat out at a restaurant, or simply get cold while eating, my stomach instantly starts to feel queasy. Then within the next hour, I have to run to the washroom and usually end up having diarrhea that smells like rotten egg. After that, I feel a lot better. So it happens really quickly, but is really disruptive, and I don't know why. Once it got so bad that I had to leave work, feeling dizzy. From my knowledge, I have no allergies or other diseases. What could possibly cause my stomach to churn so badly once I eat out or get cold?
 

Dear Patient:  It is difficult to explain the cause of your symptoms; however it is unlikely due to an infection if symptoms started a couple of years ago. It may be helpful to note in a diary your symptoms to establish a relationship, including duration of diarrhea, food ingested, the presence of any blood or mucous associated with the diarrhea, associated symptoms (nausea or vomiting). Your symptoms could be due to a food allergy, malabsorption syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease or irritable bowel disease. I advise attending your family doctor for a detailed history and clinical examination, and following this he may be able to exclude many of the above diseases as a cause for your symptoms.

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