Are you experiencing worrisome signs in your digestive system — like bloating, nausea, or rectal bleeding?
It might be time to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and phone a gastroenterologist. These doctors specialize in health-related issues on organs found in your digestive tract, like your pancreas, intestines, and liver.
While everyone can experience stomach aches after days-old leftovers now and then, you should consider visiting a centre for GI health if more pressing issues arise.
Here are some signs you need to see a GI doctor.
A bloated stomach is one of the most commonly experienced GI signs. A bloated belly might appear after you eat your favorite pizza, or be an ongoing problem that doesn’t go away with medications like antacids and laxatives. If you feel like your clothes have become much tighter than they once were all of a sudden, it could be bloating.
Thankfully, most instances of bloating usually go away within a few days, but if it persists for more than two weeks you might want to take a trip down the road to see your physician.
Nausea is another GI sign that you don’t want to ignore.
It usually accompanies vomiting, which can be a sign of food poisoning or an ulcer in your stomach lining. Mild nausea usually lasts between 15 minutes to 30 minutes, and usually resolves itself on its own. But if you start to experience nausea all the time, it might be a sign of acid reflux caused by an underlying condition like GERD or ulcerative colitis. In cases like this, it might be time to see a GI doctor.
Does it seem like your bowel movements have been unusually bright red and pink? How about black and tarry blood accompanying the stool? If so, it might be time to get checked as this is a common sign of rectal bleeding.
This symptom can cause severe complications if left untreated, so have a prompt evaluation for it with a GI specialist. Rectal bleeding can be a sign of many different conditions, including hemorrhoids, fissures, or colorectal cancer. Thankfully, these diseases can be prevented if intervened in time, so do your part and schedule a checkup right away.
4Unexplained Weight Loss
Do you feel like you’re constantly hungry, but never able to eat enough food? Or maybe you feel bloated all the time and can barely fit in your clothes. These might be signs of an underlying condition — like cancer or diabetes. If it comes with unexplained weight loss, that could be a sign of an even more serious disease called cachexia.
Cachexia is a disease that is most commonly found in patients with severe weakness and body wasting. This is typically found in patients who have cancer, AIDS, or other chronic inflammatory conditions.
If you’ve been feeling really tired lately and not like yourself, unexplained weight loss could be one of the problems. If you suspect that your body isn’t feeling up to speed after eating, then there might be something else going on in your GI tract that needs to be addressed.
Are you familiar with the pain in your stomach that shoots up into your chest and feels like a really bad burn? This is known as heartburn, or acid reflux. It often happens if you drink a lot of fluids before eating food, eat too much at one time, or bend over to pick something off the ground after being seated for a while.
Few people enjoy the feeling of heartburn as it produces a very uncomfortable sensation for your throat and chest. If you can’t find a doctor right away, some home remedies that might take the edge off are drinking a big glass of water, drinking apple cider vinegar, taking licorice supplements, or chewing gum to help dilute the acid.
Sudden discomfort after eating a meal, or on its own could also be a sign that you have gastroesophageal reflux disease — which is more commonly known as GERD.
GERD can cause inflammation in the lining of your esophagus and lead to ulcers, which can cause bleeding. This is a serious condition that, if not treated, could result in esophageal cancer.
In some cases, GERD can also be caused by an underlying problem like an enlarged prostate or abnormal thyroid function — so you need to get checked out promptly as it may have dire consequences.
Do you pass gas more frequently than you should? If you’re experiencing excessive gas, it’s possible that your GI tract is irritated or inflamed. This can be due to an ulcer in the stomach lining as well as a side effect of medications like NSAIDs or cholesterol-lowering drugs such as statins.
Excessive gas might also be caused by certain foods that are difficult for you to digest. For example, beans or cabbage may cause gas because they contain an enzyme called raffinose that humans can’t digest very well.
If you have a persistent feeling of having too much gas in your stomach causing bloating and discomfort, it might be time to see what’s going on with your GI tract — especially if there are any other symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, or constipation.
How to get in touch with a GI Doctor
Don’t feel ashamed about your symptoms and avoid calling the doctor before it’s too late. There are a lot of ways to get in touch with gastroenterologists.
You can call your insurance company to advise you on what sort of specialist would be best for your condition. If you have a medical diagnosis, some websites and services list the doctors who specialize in these areas as well.
Lastly, your own clinical physician and hospital may know some leads and can help refer you to undergo expertise, high-level consultations through the phone.