Tummy Trouble? Signs You May Need to Visit the Gastroenterologist

The gastrointestinal tract, or GI tract, is comprised of the stomach and intestines. Gastroenterologists specialize in conditions that impact these organs, so if you’re experiencing any persistent symptoms, it might be time to schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist.

Here are some common digestive problems that your doctor can treat.

Bloating

Everyone feels bloated from time to time, but when you feel the need to loosen your belt a notch or two every day for at least three consecutive days, it might be a sign that something’s amiss. Bloating can be caused by eating too quickly, gas and constipation, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), or celiac disease.

Heartburn

If you find yourself experiencing heartburn at least twice a week, don’t ignore it. Heartburn occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) fails to prevent stomach acid from flowing into the esophagus and irritates its delicate lining.

Nausea

Feeling nauseous is never pleasant, but if you’re struggling to keep food down for more than two days, it’s time to seek medical attention. The causes of chronic nausea are numerous and include pregnancy, migraines, infections, parasites, small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), hepatitis C infection, and more.

Loss of Appetite

Sometimes your appetite just goes away due to stress or other underlying health conditions.

Appetite loss can be caused by digestive problems and may require various tests to determine the real problem at hand. Your gastroenterologist may request a gastroscopy (an endoscope that allows for the visualization of the GI tract), X-rays, and blood tests.

Bowel Incontinence

If you find yourself having accidents in inappropriate places, it’s time to seek help from your doctor. Bowel incontinence occurs when the muscles that control bowel movements are unable to hold stool or gas in place long enough for you to reach a restroom.

Frequent Diarrhea

Diarrhea that occurs more than three times daily for two or more days in a row should be evaluated promptly. The causes of chronic diarrhea include IBS, celiac disease, Crohn’s Disease, and ulcerative colitis.

Frequent Constipation

Constipation that occurs two or more days per week for at least three months might be a sign that something’s wrong.

Causes of chronic constipation include neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, an underactive thyroid, IBS, and IBD. However, constipation can also be caused by the side effects of medications such as calcium channel blockers, antidepressants, and antacids.

Be Proactive to Protect Your Digestive Health

Taking proactive steps to protect your digestive health is key. Whether you’re experiencing signs of heartburn, bloating, or constipation, it’s important to speak with your doctor about your condition.