What are some of the symptoms to watch out for before seeing a doctor?
It’s amazing how “involved” everything in our gut is with our overall health. Your liver, pancreas, esophagus, stomach, intestine, colon- they all play a role in the digestive process.
Usually any observed changes in your digestion aren’t indicative of anything serious and can simply be a result of new foods, stress, or even vitamins or medication. But, there are some symptoms that can indicate something more serious and should hit your radar for when to schedule an appointment.
It’s never a bad idea to get any new symptoms evaluated. The symptoms below require immediate attention from a GI specialist:
Pain Or Problems Swallowing Liquids
Sore throat and difficulty swallowing often accompanies the flu or cold symptoms, but sometimes it could be a digestive problem.
If there is pain or you have problems swallowing liquids, schedule an appointment with a GI doctor. Keep notes describing the appearance of the problem and any other symptoms that accompany it. The doctor will use all of this information to make an accurate diagnosis.
Pay Attention To Your Stool
For the most part, you want to catch any blood in your stool. It can be scary seeing blood after a bowel movement, but usually it shouldn’t be concerning. Bright red blood that appears on toilet paper isn’t as big a worry as black stools. Bright red blood might simply be from hemorrhoids, and sometimes post-menopausal women can experience bleeding from thinning tissue.
When the blood takes on a black appearance, it is more likely a signal that something is going on deeper in your digestive system. If you have recurrent symptoms of rectal bleeding, experience other associated symptoms, or are 40 years or older, you need to be evaluated. Tell your gastroenterologist all of the symptoms you’ve experienced and how often they occur.
Itching, Burning, or Bloody Hemorrhoids
Hemorrhoids can make life miserable for some people. While most hemorrhoids occur on the outside of the anus and are fairly easy to treat, internal hemorrhoids can be more challenging. GI specialists sometimes treat internal hemorrhoids during colonoscopy procedures.
Random Weight Loss
Most people wouldn’t mind losing a little weight without effort. Unfortunately, when unexplained weight loss happens, it’s important to discover why. There are other conditions that could cause you to start dropping weight, but conditions like Crohn’s disease and celiac disease make a visit to the GI doctor a good place to start.
Your Clothes Are Too Tight
While weight loss can be a symptom of certain health issues, so can random weight gain.
When a change in fit happens suddenly, it’s most likely due to bloating instead of weight gain. While bloating itself is not a cause for concern, when you have other symptoms like abdominal pain or bloody stool, then you need to see your gastroenterologist.
Food allergies, reflux, and gallstones are just some of the possible causes.
Everyone experiences gas, but when it occurs with other side effects, it could be a health concern. There may be reason for concern if the gas is especially foul-smelling or you have abdominal discomfort, unexplained weight loss, or have a change in bowel habits (diarrhea and/or constipation). Again, just be aware that if it’s noticeable and catches your attention, it could merit a doctor’s visit.
When heartburn lasts more than a few weeks, you need to see a GI doctor. Often, the doctor will use endoscopy to examine the upper digestive tract and find the source of your discomfort. Another reason to see a GI specialist is for regular screenings of the gastrointestinal tract. Gastroenterologists have an in-depth knowledge of the entire digestive tract and the conditions and diseases that impact it.
Making An Appointment
If you have any of these symptoms or if anything is concerning you about your gut health, don’t be embarrassed about having your symptoms evaluated. Contact the professionals at Carolina Digestive to schedule your appointment today.