5 Digestive Symptoms to Discuss with Your Doctor

Jessica Francis

digestive symptoms

About three years after purchasing our first home, my husband and I discovered something no homeowner wants to see – a crack in the foundation. It was relatively small and didn’t seem to be causing any structural issues in the house, so we opted not to do anything and just keep an eye on it. Of course, that didn’t mean I stopped thinking about it. I spent many late nights furiously typing away on Google trying to find any bit of information I could about foundation cracks. I found myself reading frightening terms like “structural failure” and “sloping floors.” I began researching the cost to have our foundation stabilized. At one point, I even considered going outside in my pajamas and slippers to measure the width of the crack. This was going to be a disaster. I just knew it.

After months of working myself into a frenzy, I finally convinced my husband that we should fork over the $350 and pay for a new home inspection. Too nervous to hear the results, I sat in my car while my husband looked at the foundation with the inspector. A few minutes later, he returned to the front of the house smiling. We were simply dealing with a shrinkage crack and had absolutely nothing to worry about. All those sleepless nights I’d spent researching on my laptop had been a waste.

If you’re reading this story and thinking how ridiculous I sound, you’re absolutely right. But how many times do we take this same approach with our health? We notice something worrisome that we know we should discuss with our doctor, but instead we choose to play the “watch and wait” game. And in the meantime, we spend far too many sleepless nights lying awake wondering what the problem could be.

Digestive symptoms like gas, bloating and abdominal discomfort are often a harmless side effect of something you ate, but that doesn’t mean these symptoms should be ignored. If you start to develop chronic digestive issues, your body may be trying to tell you something. Here are some digestive symptoms that could indicate there’s something more serious going on:

  • Changes in bowel habits – Occasional diarrhea or constipation is no cause for concern, but symptoms that become chronic should be discussed with your doctor. Frequent diarrhea could be an indicator of celiac disease, Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Chronic constipation may be a sign of colon cancer or diverticulitis.
  • Rectal bleeding – Never assume that rectal bleeding or blood in the stool is from hemorrhoids. This symptom is also common with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and colon cancer. Rectal bleeding should always be addressed with your medical provider to rule out serious digestive problems.
  • Noisy digestion – You’re probably used to your digestive system make an assortment of groans, rumbles and growls, but pay attention if these noises begin within a few minutes of eating. Your body may be reacting to a particular food. Keep note of which foods trigger this reaction to help you narrow down the culprit, and be sure to mention it at your next appointment.
  • Acid reflux – Do you find yourself reaching for your trusted bottle of antacid tablets after most meals? If so, you may be exhibiting signs of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a chronic digestive condition that causes chronic acid reflux. Over time, damage to the esophageal tissues can lead to complications such as ulcers, Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal cancer.
  • Ulcer pain – The timing of your symptoms can vary depending on the location of ulcers. Stomach ulcers typically cause pain immediately after you eat, while ulcers in the small intestine may actually feel better after eating. Talk to your doctor if you experience these symptoms, as ulcers may lead to bleeding, perforation and gastric outlet obstruction.

It’s always a little frightening to acknowledge that something isn’t right with our health, but don’t let fear of the unknown prevent you from addressing digestive issues. If you develop worrisome symptoms, or if your current symptoms increase in frequency or severity, pick up the phone and schedule an appointment with your doctor today. The cost of a medical visit is minimal compared to the priceless peace of mind you will have (Source: Bustle).


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