Gastrointestinal Symptoms You Should Not Ignore

Gas­troen­terol­o­gy

Talk­ing about gas­troin­testi­nal-relat­ed symp­toms can be embar­rass­ing, how­ev­er, it is impor­tant that you noti­fy your health­care provider of any changes in your health. When know­ing all the facts, your gas­troen­terol­o­gist can bet­ter diag­nose your con­di­tion and pro­vide you with treat­ment options for symp­tom relief. Your provider may also run diag­nos­tic tests, as many gas­troin­testi­nal (GI) dis­or­ders and con­di­tions have under­ly­ing symp­toms, which in some cas­es can lead to ear­ly detec­tion of cancer.

If you expe­ri­ence any of the fol­low­ing symp­toms, you should con­sult with your provider:

  • Abdom­i­nal cramps – Pain in your abdomen is not always a cause for con­cern, but you should con­sult your med­ical provider for reoc­cur­ring symp­toms or sud­den extreme pain. Many peo­ple who suf­fer from Irri­ta­ble Bow­el Syn­drome (IBS) reg­u­lar­ly expe­ri­ence cramps or stom­ach pain after eat­ing and find relief from this pain after a bow­el move­ment. Oth­er caus­es of severe abdom­i­nal pain include diver­ti­c­uli­tis and stom­ach ulcers1.
  • Acid reflux – If you con­sis­tent­ly have heart­burn more than once a week, you may ben­e­fit from a vis­it to the gas­troen­terol­o­gist. Acid reflux that goes untreat­ed can turn into a more severe con­di­tion called gas­troe­sophageal reflux dis­ease (GERD). You may also expe­ri­ence prob­lems with swal­low­ing if you have acid reflux. Typ­i­cal­ly, a change in your eat­ing habits and tak­ing the right med­ica­tions can pro­vide relief from acid reflux and its relat­ed symp­toms2.
  • Bloat­ing – Bloat­ing can be caused by a vari­ety of health con­di­tions such as con­sti­pa­tion, food intol­er­ance or chron­ic con­di­tions. Pro­longed con­sti­pa­tion can be a sign of a more seri­ous prob­lem. Your med­ical provider may rec­om­mend sup­ple­ments and a diet that will encour­age bow­el move­ments and relieve con­sti­pa­tion and bloat­ing. If your provider sus­pects a food intol­er­ance, they may order a food aller­gy pan­el. Those who have celi­ac dis­ease often expe­ri­ence bloat­ing as a symp­tom and can resolve it by chang­ing their diet.
  • Bloody stool or rec­tal bleed­ing – Blood in your stool can be caused by a vari­ety of health con­di­tions. Minor con­di­tions such as hem­or­rhoids can often be the cause of rec­tal bleed­ing or bloody stool. Hem­or­rhoids can be treat­ed with non-inva­sive treat­ments or oint­ments pre­scribed by your med­ical provider3. Bloody stool can also be caused by a more seri­ous con­di­tion such as colon can­cer. To rule out colon can­cer, your med­ical provider may sug­gest a colonoscopy. 
  • Severe diar­rhea – Diar­rhea last­ing longer than a few days could be a sign of a more seri­ous prob­lem such as a chron­ic GI dis­ease. Ongo­ing diar­rhea can cause oth­er health prob­lems such as dehy­dra­tion and unplanned weight loss. If you trav­eled out­side of the coun­try, it is pos­si­ble your immune sys­tem is bat­tling a viral or bac­te­r­i­al infec­tion. Your gas­troen­terol­o­gist can pre­scribe you med­ica­tion to help reduce loose bow­el movements. 

GI dis­or­ders and con­di­tions can vary in symp­toms for each per­son which is why it is impor­tant to seek med­ical advice. Our gas­troen­terol­o­gists are high­ly skilled in diag­nos­ing and treat­ing these symp­toms. If you are expe­ri­enc­ing any of the above GI symp­toms, sched­ule an appoint­ment online or call 630−717−2600.

1Stom­ach ache and abdom­i­nal pain (2020, Octo­ber 22). In NHS Inform. Retrieved from https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/stomach-liver-and-gastrointestinal-tract/stomach-ache-and-abdominal-pain

2Gas­troe­sophageal reflux dis­ease (GERD) (2020, May 22). In Mayo Clin­ic. Retrieved from https://​www​.may​oclin​ic​.org/​d​i​s​e​a​s​e​s​-​c​o​n​d​i​t​i​o​n​s​/​g​e​r​d​/​s​y​m​p​t​o​m​s​-​c​a​u​s​e​s​/​s​y​c​-​2​0​3​61940

3Hem­or­rhoids (2019, July 3). In Mayo Clin­ic. Retrieved from https://​www​.may​oclin​ic​.org/dis…