In a recent article, Dinis-Oliveira laid out his own theory on what creates the optimal conditions for the development of ABS. He describes it as a “perfect metabolic storm” where the pH of the stomach rises and combines with food stagnation and the reflux of food into the stomach from the intestines, as seen in certain medical conditions.
Carson, the 64-year-old ABS patient from the UK, recently discovered that he has a genetically inherited condition that affects the connective tissues in his body, known as Hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (hEDS). These connective tissues are mostly made up of protein collagen and tend to provide support to other tissues in the skin, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels, as well as some internal organs. Patients with hEDS may have hyperflexible joints, but it also affects the digestive tract, where it can cause abnormal involuntary muscle movements that control digestion. This can make a patient’s bowel slower, causing delayed emptying of stomach contents into the small intestine. (Learn more about the effects of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome.)
No link has yet been investigated between hEDS and ABS, but Carson believes that this delayed emptying of her stomach may have contributed to her own ABS. About one in 5,000 to 20,000 people have hEDS, so more research is needed to determine if there is a link.
Cordell thinks there could be other causes as well. “We also learned a lot more about dietary triggers and external triggers such as solvents/chemicals, pollution, stress and trauma causing ‘surges’ of endogenous alcohol production,” she says.
Solvents are something Carson associated with his own ABS – one of his first experiences with ABS occurred shortly after re-sealing a wooden floor using products containing volatile organic compounds. . However, since the solvents themselves can cause poisoning if inhaled, this relationship needs further research.
Following a strict diet guided by nutritionists, combined with antifungal treatments and multivitamins, allowed Carson to master his own abs. “It’s like walking a tightrope,” he adds. “I’m constantly saying, ‘Am I okay, am I okay?’ When I feel a little tired, we do a breath analyzer.”
For Carson, the most upsetting part of his experience with ABS was the effect it had on his mental health. He uses the “mind palace” memory technique made famous by the TV series Sherlock as an analogy. In the TV show, the Sherlock Holmes describes how he remembers information by storing it in imaginary rooms inside a tall building – by analogy.
“When I’m in this breakdown state, I no longer have access to the mental halls of these events,” Carson explains. “It’s extremely disturbing and you end up doubting yourself.”
Carson says that while he knows these episodes took place from his family, his own memories of them are frustratingly out of reach. “There are several rooms I can’t get in because those rooms are locked and I have to accept that I’ll never get there,” he says. “It’s not that the memories aren’t there, it’s just that in your conscious state you can’t access them.”
But as Carson has learned more about his condition and what may be causing it, he and his wife hope that fewer of these rooms will be locked in the future.
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