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You're Not Alone If You Experience These Digestive Issues, Part II

According to the U.S. The Department of Health and Human Services, 60 to 70 million people are affected by digestive problems. These problems can be due to a variety of factors, such as poor diet, high-stress, and other environmental factors. At Northeastern Gastroenterology Associates, our gastroenterology specialists diagnose and treat many different digestive issues and disorders.

In our last blog post, we looked at five common digestive disorders that people experience. Today, we’ll continue to review a few other digestive issues and conditions that are fairly common. Remember, if you think you may be living with an undiagnosed digestive disorder, schedule an appointment with a gastroenterology specialist.

6. Gallstones

The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ that stores and secretes bile for digestion. The bile stored in the gallbladder can form small, hard deposits called gallstones. Gallstones can develop when there’s too much cholesterol or waste in your bile, or if your gallbladder doesn’t empty properly. According to the American Gastroenterological Association, it is estimated that over 20 million Americans have gallstones with nearly one million new cases of gallstone disease diagnosed every year. Some gallstone conditions do not cause symptoms and will go away on their own. Others can cause severe pain or infection. Over-the-counter and prescribed medications sometimes help dissolve gallstones, but if that doesn’t work, your doctor may recommend getting surgery.

7. Diverticulitis

Diverticulosis is a diverticular disease . This condition often causes small pouches called diverticula to form anywhere there are weak spots in the lining of your digestive system, but these pouches are most commonly found in the colon. Having these pouches in the lining of your digestive system with no symptoms, you may have what is called diverticulosis, which is fairly common among older adults and rarely causes problems. However, if the pouches become inflamed and you experience symptoms such as a fever or abdominal pain, the condition is called diverticulitis. Roughly half of people ages 60 to 80 are affected by this digestive condition. Mild diverticulitis can typically be treated with antibiotics or by changing what you eat so that your colon can heal. While obesity is a cause for diverticulitis, it can also be caused by diets that are low in fiber. Therefore, your doctor may suggest incorporating high-fiber foods into your diet, such as whole grains, legumes, vegetables as part of your treatment.

8. Gluten Sensitivity & Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is a serious sensitivity to gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. Gluten sensitivity is relatively common, affecting about 5% of the population in the United States. True celiac disease, on the other hand, affects less than 1%. Having this disorder can damage your villi, the finger-like protrusions in your small intestines that help your body absorb nutrients from the foods you consume. Adults with celiac disease may experience anemia, fatigue, bone loss, depression, and seizures, however, many people do not experience any symptoms, which is why it is important to visit gastroenterology for proper diagnosis. Eliminating gluten from the diet is the main treatment for celiac disease and gluten sensitivity.

9. Gastroenteritis

Fever, vomiting, headaches, and diarrhea. The symptoms of gastroenteritis have made this digestive condition more well-known as the stomach flu. Gastroenteritis is an infection — either viral or bacterial — in the stomach and upper part of the small intestine. Viral infections are often caused by rotavirus and norovirus — which affect millions of people every year — while bacterial infections are typically caused by E. coli or salmonella. When symptoms of gastroenteritis last for a few days, it is best to drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. This condition should pass in time, so if you have symptoms that last for more than a few days you should see your doctor for diagnosis and to get the most effective treatment.

10. Hemorrhoids

Noticing bright red blood in the toilet bowl when you move your bowels can be frightening, but chances are that it is a sign of hemorrhoids, which is a very common digestive issue. Hemorrhoids are swollen, painful blood vessels at the end of your digestive tract in the anal canal. According to the National Institutes of Health, 75 percent of Americans over age 45 have hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids tend to cause pain or itching around the anus. Fortunately, many cases of hemorrhoids can be treated at home. Over-the-counter ointments, suppositories, or a warm bath can help in relieving pain and itching. While it may feel a little embarrassing to talk about hemorrhoids, it shouldn’t stop you from seeking professional medical help if hemorrhoids persist.

Schedule an Appointment with a Gastroenterology Specialist

You aren’t the only one that is living with a digestive disorder. If you have been experiencing digestional pain or discomfort, it is important to see a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment. The team of experienced gastroenterology specialists at Northeastern Gastroenterology Associates can help. Schedule an appointment today.