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Jake Keator
August 17, 2021

Digestive health comes in many forms, through the food you eat, constant exercise, and stress management. Signs of digestive issues can also manifest themselves in numerous ways. Below are some common signs of digestion health problems. If you believe you are experiencing any complications with your digestive health reach out to your doctor for guidance.

Reflux of stomach contents

Commonly described as “heartburn”, the rise of stomach contents into the esophagus can cause serious problems due it’s acidity. While the terms heartburn, GERD, and acid reflux are often used interchangeably, they are different. The American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) explains the difference below:

“GERD is the disease or diagnosis defined as regular symptoms caused by the flow of gastric contents into the esophagus. Heartburn is one of the symptoms of GERD. Acid Reflux is the reason why patients have GERD. There is actually reflux that can be non-acidic that can be seen in GERD as well,” (ACG).

If you experience the reflux of stomach contents on a regular basis, reach out to your doctor. GERD is most common in the elderly, obese, and pregnant women.

Abdominal Pain

When sensing abdominal pain, it’s important to understand when to seek immediate medical attention. Mild pain may not be a sign of a serious issue but should still be discussed with your doctor when convenient. Severe and long-lasting pain however may be a sign of serious issues that may require quick medical attention. In regard to digestive health, severe abdominal pain may be a sign of a bowel obstruction such as colon cancer, a tumor, inflammation, or adhesions or scars left in the belly following a surgery or inflammation.

Constipation or defecation problems

Constipation can be uncomfortable or even painful, making it important to recognize when you are having issues using the restroom. It can also be a sign of a potential obstruction of the bowels. If this issue persists, see your doctor. When doctors are working toward a diagnosis regarding constipation, they will often ask questions regarding the patients experience. Help your doctor by taking notes about your experience.

If the doctor has trouble coming up with a diagnosis, they may request a colonoscopy or bowel x-rays.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, is a topic that is still being studied. The ACS believes this can be caused during or after an infection of the bowels, or by an overgrowth of good or bad bacteria in the gut.

Symptoms of IBS can be recurring pain during bowel movements, changes in color or consistency of stool, or how often they have bowel movements. The ACS emphasizes that IBS is not associated with, “weight loss, blood in the stool, or waking up at night for bowel movements,” (ACS). ACS adds that IBS does not commonly begin in people older than 50 years old.

While IBS is not a life-threatening disease it can be a sign of potential celiac disease. Your doctor may request a check for this if IBS does not improve following treatment.

These are only some signs that your gut may not be performing at its highest level. If you are experiencing any discomfort, or feel like something isn’t right, reach out and inform your doctor. For more information on the symptoms listed above, or to learn about other symptoms, visit the American College of Gastroenterology website by clicking here.