Gastrointestinal Health

GI Disorders: Risk Factors, Symptoms and Where to Seek Care

It’s not uncommon to experience the occasional upset stomach or heartburn. But when you start having regular symptoms, it may indicate a more serious health issue. Although experiencing frequent gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms is frustrating, these conditions can be successfully managed. The first step is learning more about GI disorders – who’s most affected, symptoms to watch for, and when and where to seek care.

What are the most common GI conditions?

There are many types of GI conditions, but some of the most common include irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, colitis, ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux disease, eosinophilic esophagitis, Barrett’s esophagus, gall stones, hemorrhoids, colon polyps and cancer. Many of these conditions can be prevented or managed by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and practicing good bowel habits.

Who’s most affected by GI disorders?

These conditions affect people of all ages and backgrounds. But interestingly, they seem to affect women more than men. There are a few reasons why: first, men often try to tough through these types of symptoms and don’t seek help while women are more likely to see their doctor to figure out what’s going on. This may lead to GI disorders in men being underreported. But there have also been studies that have shown that women may have structural and chemical differences that cause them to have more GI symptoms.

What are the most common symptoms?

Changes in bowel function – such as diarrhea or constipation – is one of the most common GI symptoms. But people may also experience heartburn or reflux, abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence, nausea and vomiting.

What barriers prevent people from getting medical attention?

There’s a lot of stigma surrounding GI conditions. That’s because the types of symptoms people experience aren’t really topics you’d normally bring up during a meal with family or friends or in the workplace. This can cause people to suffer in silence, leading to increased anxiety or stress – which can worsen GI conditions.

How can a gastroenterologist help?

If you have mild symptoms, you may be able to manage them by making lifestyle changes with the help of a primary care provider. But if you’re unable to manage your symptoms, it’s time to see a gastroenterologist. The sooner you seek help, the sooner you’ll be able to gain control of your symptoms. A gastroenterologist can also evaluate your condition and determine the most effective treatment to avoid further GI health issues.

Edward-Elmhurst Health’s gastroenterologists, surgeons, nurses, allergists and nutritionists are available to help manage every aspect of a patient’s care right within our hospital walls. To learn more about GI disorders, visit us online. You can also make an appointment online or by calling 630-527-6363.
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