30 Aug The Urgency for Early Detection and Treatment of GI Disorders
In 2022, the American Gastroenterological Association released data that gastrointestinal (GI) discomfort was the reason why 40% of Americans stopped spending time with loved ones, doing errands, or exercising.
Gut issues can be extremely uncomfortable (literally and figuratively), and 1 in 3 Americans say they can’t even open the topic to their primary care physician. Left untreated, these matters can lead to dehydration, malnutrition, or even death.
The significance of early detection in addressing GI disorders cannot be emphasized enough, especially considering that colonoscopies play a pivotal role in identifying and diagnosing these issues.
Common GI Disorders and Effective Treatment
In 2018, out of 327 million Americans, at least 40 million of them went to the hospital for GI disorders, like:
Stomach acid causes a burning sensation in the chest as it rises up the esophagus. Bending over or lying down can make this worse for those who suffer from it. Antacids will help, but if heartburn is severe or frequent, it’s advisable to visit a doctor. In some cases, acid reflux is chronic and referred to as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).
Beyond the discomfort and potential pain associated with passing stool, it’s crucial to recognize that the clinical threshold for concern is having fewer than three weekly bowel movements. Neglecting the urge to relieve oneself can lead to a cascade of undesirable outcomes.
The path to maintaining digestive well-being is paved with essential strategies: ensure an ample intake of fluids and embrace a diet abundant in fiber. By embracing these proactive steps, it empowers the body to flourish and thrive.
As the opposite of constipation, this disorder is characterized by having more than three watery bowel movements in a single day. Bacteria, viruses, or food intolerance are the common causes of diarrhea. There is a danger of dehydration, so counteract it by drinking plenty of fluids.
Over the counter (OTC) medication like Pepto-Bismol or Imodium can be taken to aid the body absorb more water, resulting in less watery stool, however, prolonged consumption of these medications can have serious consequences. When experiencing a prolonged case of diarrhea (more than a few days), or the need to use OTC medications frequently, it’s advised to see a doctor.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
About 5% to 10% of people in the world are affected with IBS. Although there seems to be no link with shorter life expectancy when affected with IBS, the sudden onset of bloating and diarrhea can greatly affect quality of life.
Living with IBS can mean avoiding stress, always having OTC medication like Pepto-Bismol or Imodium, and learning which foods can trigger the onset of symptoms.
The Effects of GI Issues in Children
If unnoticed or left untreated, GI issues in children can lead to development or growth problems due to compromised nutrient absorption. The anxiety and shame can also cause emotional or behavioral issues, which can then manifest into problems at school.
For parents suspecting their child to have GI issues, it’s vital to get a proper diagnosis. Untreated GI issues have a compounding negative effect on the quality of life of a child, so immediate treatment is important.
An Ounce of Prevention is Worth More Than a Pound of Cure
Pre-empt GI issues from developing in the first place by:
- Getting enough fiber in the diet (for children, for adults)
- Supplementing the diet with probiotics (fermented foods)
- Staying hydrated