Everyone occasionally gets an upset stomach. The majority of individuals are familiar with typical digestive problems, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation, whether they are caused by the stomach virus, heartburn after consuming a spicy meal, or eating food that isn't quite their style. But occasionally, digestive problems call for receiving specialized treatment from a GI doctor. Perhaps your bowel movements have changed noticeably, or you have additional red flags like rectal bleeding.
Continue reading to find out more about the signs you should consider making an appointment with your gastroenterologist.
1. Difficulty swallowing
Dysphagia, the medical term for difficulty swallowing, can feel like a lump in the throat or discomfort during swallowing. This condition may be a sign of esophageal injury or narrowing. Usually, your doctor will perform an endoscopy to assess your symptoms and determine the proper treatment.
2. Persistent heartburn
Everybody occasionally experiences heartburn, but persistent heartburn may indicate acid reflux disease or GERD. Heartburn is caused by acid from the stomach flowing back into the esophagus. Those with GERD commonly have malfunctioning lower esophageal sphincter, a muscle that typically closes when food enters the stomach. In acid reflux patients, it may flutter open and shut or remain completely open. When over-the-counter medications fail to provide results, it's best o visit a gastroenterologist who can perform a thorough physical exam as well as an endoscopy to determine the culprit behind your symptoms and prescribe appropriate treatment.
3. Bloated and painful stomach
Occasionally experiencing bloating is usually nothing to worry about. However, if you experience sudden bloating along with symptoms like pain in your abdomen, it may be a sign that something is wrong. Stomach bloating indicates that you are accumulating gas. Bloating that coincides with blood in the stool or painful bowel movements may be signs of IBS, celiac disease, IBD, GERD, or gallbladder issues.
Constipation can occur as a result of inadequate hydration or excessive dairy consumption, but persistent constipation is a condition that requires the attention of a professional. Chronic constipation is when you have fewer than three bowel movements each week. This frequently occurs together with difficult-to-pass feces or straining during bowel movements. These signs might indicate colorectal or colon cancer, intestinal obstruction, or colonic narrowing. The diagnosis of these symptoms frequently involves a colonoscopy.
Loose and more frequent bowel movements, or diarrhea, typically subside on their own. However, you should see a doctor if your diarrhea occurs more than once a week or lasts longer than a month. Numerous illnesses, including IBS, IBD, celiac disease, and parasitic infections, can cause chronic diarrhea. You should see a gastroenterologist if you have diarrhea for more than a month, especially if it is accompanied by fever or dehydration.
6. Bleeding from the bottom
Any kind of rectal bleeding warrants an immediate visit to a specialist. Rectal bleeding can be caused by something as simple as bleeding hemorrhoids, but it can also be an indication of more serious conditions, including polyps, ulcers, or inflammatory bowel disease. If you are 40 years of age or older, rectal bleeding may potentially become more dangerous.
7. Excessive gas
Although having gas collected inside your digestive system is normal and an essential component of digestion, persistent and excessive gas may indicate gastrointestinal disorders like celiac disease, IBD, GERD, or autoimmune pancreatitis. Consult your gastroenterologist if you experience frequent gas, stools with blood, discomfort in your abdomen, fever, and sore muscles.
8. A sudden decrease in weight
If you shed over five percent of your total body weight in six months, notify your GI doctor. It may indicate pancreatitis, IBD, peptic ulcers, or liver cirrhosis. A sudden decrease in weight is commonly associated with excessive fatigue.