The digestive system plays a crucial role in your overall health and well-being by breaking down food, absorbing nutrients, and eliminating waste.
With all the work your digestive system does, it’s likely to experience an occasional glitch every now and then. Mild nausea, an occasional bout of constipation, or a familiar burn after your favorite chili dish may all be normal. However, there are times when your symptoms indicate that something has gone wrong.
Board-certified gastroenterologist Dr. Prem Chattoo at Hudson River Gastroenterology specializes in conditions that affect your digestive system.
Always happy to provide the education you need to make informed decisions about your health, Dr. Chattoo explains five symptoms that could signal a digestive condition that requires medical attention:
1. Persistent abdominal pain
Abdominal pain is common and can stem from various causes, such as indigestion, gas, or muscle strain.
However, you should never ignore persistent or severe abdominal pain, especially if it’s accompanied by fever, vomiting, or bloody stools. These are all symptoms of gastritis, ulcers, gallstones, pancreatitis, or appendicitis.
2. Unexplained weight loss
While intentional weight loss is often a positive step toward better health, unexplained weight loss without changes in diet or exercise habits can signal a problem.
Losing weight unintentionally and rapidly could indicate an underlying digestive disorder, such as celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), or cancer.
3. Frequent heartburn or acid reflux
Occasional heartburn or acid reflux is common and often easily managed with lifestyle changes and over-the-counter remedies.
However, long-lasting or frequent heartburn, especially accompanied by other symptoms like difficulty swallowing or chronic cough, may be a sign of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or a hiatal hernia.
If left untreated, these conditions can lead to complications like esophagitis or Barrett's esophagus, a precancerous condition. However, seeking medical evaluation and adopting lifestyle modifications can help manage these conditions effectively.
4. Chronic diarrhea or constipation
Changes in bowel habits can provide valuable insights into your digestive health. For example, chronic diarrhea or constipation may signal an underlying gastrointestinal disorder.
Conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, or even colorectal cancer can manifest with persistent changes in bowel habits. Scheduling a consultation at our practice is essential for a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
5. Blood in stools
Discovering blood in your stool, whether bright red or dark and tarry, is never normal and should not be ignored.
Bloody stools could indicate a range of conditions, from hemorrhoids and anal fissures to more serious issues like diverticulosis, inflammatory bowel disease, or colorectal cancer. Prompt medical attention can help identify the cause and guide further investigations or treatments.
Schedule a visit at Hudson River Gastroenterology at one of our two locations in New York, New York, for comprehensive care focused on your digestive health. Call the office or request an appointment online today.