Gut feeling alert: These symptoms should not be ignored!
Approximately half (43%) of the U.K population is affected by digestive issues in one form or another. However, a staggering 41% don’t feel the need to consult their physician because either their symptoms resolve automatically or they don’t take them serious enough. Moreover, many people simply think that a doctor won’t be able to help them so end up bearing these symptoms in silence.
Strange, but supported by evidence.
However, what is worth noting is that while some of these minor and temporary issues may clear up without any major discomfort and professional help, recurrent symptoms that last for more than a certain period of time may indicate towards some serious underlying health issues related to the gut. If left untreated, these conditions may worsen over time and take over your life and health.
But there is no need to panic. As long as you have some basic awareness about the most common symptoms that indicate towards gut issues and know when to seek medical help, you should be fine.
Which is exactly what we will be talking about today.
Abdominal pain or discomfort is one of the most common gut issues that highly prevails among those aged between 18-34, followed by those in the age group 35-44. It can be caused by a number of factors, ranging from indigestion and gas to Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBDs) such as Crohn’s, ulcers and appendicitis.
Handle it yourself: if your abdominal pain is occasional, mild and/or bearable, you can manage it yourself by investigating your eating habits, controlling alcohol intake and de-stressing through some light exercises.
Go see a physician: it’s time to pay your GP a visit if the pain persists or is sharp, severe and sudden.
Heartburn is another common symptom experienced by people facing gut issues. It happens when your stomach acid refluxes into the food pipe (aka esophagus). It can be caused by certain foods such as tomatoes, raw onions, spicy food, citrus fruits, caffeine and carbonated beverages.
Handle it yourself: heartburn is harmless if it occurs occasionally and is mild in intensity. This type of heartburn can be dealt with antacids and acid blockers as well as through making some changes in your eating habits such as avoiding food intake late at night and consuming less alcohol.
Go see a physician: heartburn can be quite concerning for people over 60. Additionally, if you notice that your hearburns have been increasing in intensity and causing increased discomfort that cannot be reduced by the intake of acid-blockers, you must pay your physician a visit.
Flatulence and bloating
Flatulence is described as having excessive wind that causes a person to pass wind more than they normally would. For reference, you have too much flatulence if you pass wind more than 20 times a day. Passing wind is a normal part of the digestive process with excessive flatulence more common in people aged 45+ and those aged between 18-34.
Handle it yourself: if you are feeling that you have been experiencing increased flatulence, you can manage the symptoms by reducing the intake of fiber, fruits and vegetables (the recommended amount may be too much for some people) and adding probiotics in your diet.
Go see a physician: sudden, severe or progressive inflation of the abdomen and heightened flatulence is a sign that you must consult with your GP.
Diarrhea is another gut issue tdiarrehat we all have gone through at some point in our lives. People aged between 18-34 complain more about stomach upsets than any other age group. Common causes of diarrhea include consuming contaminated food and drinks, stomach viruses and stress.
Handle it yourself: a bout of short-lived diarrhea can be treated by making some diet changes and staying hydrated. Having up to 3 bowel movements a day is normal so don’t get concerned yet. Try to be easy on your stomach and stick to the BRAT (bananas, rice, apples, toast) diet while you have it.
Go see a physician: if you have more than 6 bowel movements a day, severe abdominal pain, experience dizziness or feel excessively thirsty, then it is an indication that self-management won’t work any longer.
A change in toilet routine
Bowel movements vary from person to person. While an individual may routinely have one bowel movement a day, it could be completely normal for another person to have several during 24 hours. Sudden and short-term changes are pretty normal and can be managed with changes in diet, exercise and medicine.
Handle it yourself: Normal bowel movements range from anywhere between 3 visits to the lavatory a day to one bowel movement every three days. If you have any discrepancies, then it can be a sign of constipation or diarrhea. In that case, use the DIY remedies described above for constipation and diarrhea.
Go see a physician: major and persistent changes in bowel movements merit a visit to your doctor who can investigate as to why they may be happening. The reason can be as simple as a temporary infection or may indicate towards a more complicated chronic condition such as Crohn’s and Celiac disease.
Unaccountable weight loss
Weight loss, unless intentional, is often associated with an underlying health condition. It can also be related to your gut issues such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) or may simply be the result of depression, diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis.
Handle it yourself: a temporary weight loss may be dealt with by focusing on your diet and staying well-hydrated.
Go see a physician: if you continue to keep losing weight regardless of eating a balanced diet that is rich in vitamins and minerals, it is time to pay your physician a visit who can then investigate the underlying cause of this unaccountable weight loss.
Although the above mentioned gut issues are some of the most common ones prevailing and can be dealt with through self-management if not severe, it is always in your best interest to visit your physician if you feel that these problems persist, increase in severity or are causing increased discomfort.
Don’t take your gut issues lightly. The health of your gut is synonymous to your health.
Do you have any gut issues? Were you able to manage them yourself or had to seek the help of a doctor? Please let us know in the comments section below.