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STDWatch
Dr. Patricia Shelton

Jan 23, 20237 min read

What are the Symptoms of Gut Problems?

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Many people are concerned about their gut health. When you’re having digestion problems, it can significantly affect your quality of life. It’s important to figure out what’s causing your symptoms of poor digestion, so you can feel better.

The digestive tract is also known as the gastrointestinal tract, or GI tract. If you’re having GI issues, symptoms can vary based on the specific part of your digestive tract that’s affected.

Gastrointestinal disease symptoms

In general, food is processed in three main parts of the digestive system: the stomach, the small intestine, and the large intestine (also known as the colon). There are also a few organs that contribute substances that help with digestion, including the pancreas, liver, and gallbladder. 

If you’re having GI issues, the symptoms can vary depending on the specific part of the digestive system that’s affected. However, the symptoms of many different GI conditions overlap with each other. Stomach disease symptoms or intestinal problem symptoms may include:

  • Black or tarry stool

  • Blood in the stool

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Bloating

  • Constipation

  • Diarrhea

  • Incontinence

  • Abdominal pain

  • Heartburn

  • Trouble swallowing

  • Abdominal cramping

  • Weight gain

  • Unintentional weight loss

The specific symptoms that you’re experiencing will vary, based on the specific condition that you have. However, many of the symptoms on this list are common to a variety of different digestive conditions. It can be challenging to tell the difference between different GI conditions based on symptoms alone. This is why it’s important to get a professional medical evaluation if you’re having chronic digestive issues or have recently begun experiencing digestive symptoms. 

Digestive system diseases list

There are a huge number of diseases of the digestive system, and it would be impossible to list them all in a single article. Here are a few of the more common diseases that affect the digestive system. However, please note that this is not at all an exhaustive list, and there are many other digestive conditions that aren’t listed here.

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or heartburn

  • Ulcers, which may affect the stomach or the intestine

  • Cancer, which can affect any organ in the digestive system

  • Inflammatory bowel disease

  • Irritable bowel syndrome

  • Diverticulitis (the formation of small pouches in the wall of the intestine)

  • Celiac disease

  • Ischemia (interruption of blood flow to an organ)

  • Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)

  • Cirrhosis (scarring of the liver)

  • Hepatitis (inflammation of the liver)

  • Cholecystitits (inflammation of the gallbladder)

Doctors known as gastroenterologists are specialists in diagnosing and treating diseases of the digestive system. Generally, if you’re having digestive issues, the first doctor you should consult is your primary care doctor. This is your regular doctor, who you normally go to. They may be able to diagnose and treat your condition themselves, or they may refer you to a gastroenterologist or another specialist.

Fatal stomach diseases list

There are some forms of digestive system pathology that have the potential to be fatal, meaning that they can lead to death. Again, it’s impossible to list every single fatal digestive condition in this article, but here a few of the more common ones:

  • Cancer

  • Hepatitis

  • Perforation (when a hole develops in the wall of the digestive tract)

  • Ischemia

  • Inflammatory bowel disease

How to know if you have digestive issues

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of gastrointestinal disease, then you’ll want to figure out what’s causing these. If you’re experiencing bad digestion, symptoms can be difficult to interpret, since they can overlap significantly between different conditions.

It’s also important to note that some conditions might not cause obvious symptoms. For example, colon cancer or other colon diseases can cause blood to show up in the stool, but this may be present only in microscopic amounts at first. Blood in the stool can be an indication of a serious condition, such as colon cancer. It’s recommended that you be screened for colon cancer on a regular basis. One option is to use a home testing kit that looks for blood in the stool. Another option is a colonoscopy, which uses a camera on the end of a long flexible tube to look inside of the colon.

If you’re experiencing significant digestive problems, it’s a good idea to talk with your doctor about these. It’s especially important to consult a doctor if you have new symptoms, such as a significant change in bowel habits. For intestinal and gastric problems, symptoms could indicate a very serious condition like cancer, and early treatment can make a difference in your ultimate outcome. 

Unfortunately, many people suffer with bad digestive system symptoms for years, and believe that this is simply how things have to be. The truth is that many digestive conditions are treatable. Even if you’ve been having symptoms for years, you could start feeling better when you get the right treatment. Don’t hesitate to talk to a medical professional about your symptoms, to find out what your options may be.

Sources

Gastrointestinal Diseases. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/7040-gastrointestinal-diseases. Accessed 22 Jan 2023.

Digestive diseases. National Library of Medicine. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007447.htm. Accessed 22 Jan 2023.

Common GI Symptoms. American College of Gastroenterology. https://gi.org/topics/common-gi-symptoms/. Accessed 22 Jan 2023.


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