Are you suffering from heartburn or bloating? These digestive issues are common and we often turn to home remedies or over-the-counter medication for these ailments. However, what if the symptoms are an indication of a much more serious condition?
It is important to note that certain gut symptoms and seemingly minor conditions can also lead to more serious gastrointestinal diseases, such as colon cancer. While an occasional gut problem may not always be a sign of a potentially dangerous disease, it is vital to know how your gut problems may escalate or increase your risk for other significant health conditions. Here are 4 common gut problems that can lead to serious health problems that you shouldn’t ignore.
1. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
You could be experiencing irritable bowel syndrome if you find yourself often feeling bloated and gassy, or consistently suffering from constipation or diarrhoea. Irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic condition of the colon that involves changes to one’s bowel habits.
Some of the factors that cause IBS include inflammation or infection of the gut, stress, or diet. It is important to note that IBS is not life-threatening, but in severe cases, they can significantly impact one’s quality of life. Apart from gut discomfort, other effects include depression and malnutrition.
While IBS does not increase one’s risk of contracting colon cancer, the cancer’s symptoms can be easily mistaken as IBS. Thus, if you suspect you might have IBS, make sure to consult a gastroenterologist for a thorough examination to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms.
Gastritis is inflammation of the stomach lining, which can manifest as an acute or chronic condition. Here are a few causes and risk factors of gastritis you should know:
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Excessive usage of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
Most cases of gastritis are not serious, but in some cases, can result in stomach ulcers or even stomach cancer. Some common symptoms associated with gastritis are:
- Indigestion and nausea
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Pain in the upper abdomen
You should consult a health professional immediately if these symptoms are accompanied by blood in the stools, or black, tarry stools.
3. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
This condition is also known as acid reflux or heartburn, and it describes the condition when food, fluids or stomach acid moves back up from the stomach and into the oesophagus. When this happens, you may feel a burning sensation in or around the stomach and chest area, nausea, and a bitter or sour taste in your mouth.
The leading causes of GERD are smoking, excessive alcohol intake, stress, spicy foods, and other digestive issues. While GERD is not an uncommon issue, it should not go unchecked as it has the potential to cause lasting damage to one’s oesophagus over a prolonged period. Some of these effects include ulcers, scarring, and an increased risk of oesophageal cancer.
The most common symptoms of indigestion are bloating, frequent flatulence or belching, and nausea. However, there may also be no symptoms of indigestion at all, apart from dull pain or a general discomfort located in the upper abdomen.
The causes of indigestion can range from excessive consumption of oily or spicy foods, anxiety or stress, to underlying gastrointestinal disorders (such as GERD or ulcers). While the occasional indigestion episode is normal, frequent rounds of indigestion should not be ignored, as these could be symptoms of more serious gut problems. Your doctor may recommend a stool test or endoscopy to diagnose the condition.
Seek help from health professionals
All of the gut problems faced above can lead to serious health issues if they are not properly checked or treated by a health professional. For instance, if you find yourself suffering from pancreatic cancer symptoms and you are unsure, it is best to seek a health professional or a doctor without delay. They can offer you a check-up on these diseases, help you understand more about your health and your body, and recommend treatments for your condition.
Speak to a health professional today and let them guide you towards a healthier you.