Digestive issues can be debilitating, and unpredictable. But what symptoms should you consider common versus more serious? Find out in this article.
by Troop Atomic Mommy
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The digestive tract is one of the most complex organs in our body. It’s a network of organs that has one primary function — to digest food. The process of digestion is a long and intricate series of events that begins when we take the first bite, and ends when nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream. For many people, this process doesn’t always go as smoothly as it should. There are many different types of digestive disorders that can make eating an uncomfortable experience for those who suffer from them. Here are some common symptoms, struggles, and triggers of individuals with digestive issues.
Everyday health issues such as constipation, diarrhea, and bloating are often dismissed as nothing more than a mild inconvenience. In reality, they can become debilitating, both physically and mentally, if they are left untreated.
Constipation is a condition in which stool becomes hard and difficult to pass. This can be caused by several different factors, including a change in diet, certain medications, dehydration, or a lack of physical activity. While most cases of constipation are mild, others can be extremely serious, even leading to a bowel blockage. If you are experiencing symptoms of constipation, your gastroenterologist will likely recommend lifestyle changes such as increasing your water intake and adding fiber to your diet. If these treatments fail to provide relief, your doctor may prescribe medication to help you pass the stool.
A sudden change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, is one of the most common signs of an underlying gastrointestinal disorder. Diarrhea is loose, watery stool that occurs at least three times per day, or twice after a meal. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including infections, food allergies, certain medications, and metabolic disorders. Diarrhea is a common condition that usually resolves itself within a couple of weeks. If the diarrhea lasts more than a month, however, it could be a sign of a more serious condition. Diarrhea is not the same as constipation. Constipation involves hard, dry stool, whereas diarrhea is loose and watery.
Bloating and gas
Bloating occurs when your digestive system takes too long to digest food, resulting in an uncomfortable feeling of fullness in the abdomen. This feeling can range from mild to severe, and can be accompanied by other digestive disorders such as cramps, diarrhea, and constipation.
Bloating is caused by foods that are difficult to digest. Common culprits include dairy, beans, and legumes. It can also be the result of a food allergy or intolerance, stress, or changes in hormone levels. Bloating is a relatively common digestive disorder that can be remedied with dietary changes, stress reduction techniques, and, in some cases, medications.
Food allergies and intolerances
An allergy is a reaction caused by the immune system, whereas an intolerance is a reaction to a specific substance in the digestive system. Allergies can be life-threatening, while intolerances are usually less severe.
There are many food allergies that can cause digestive issues, including peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, milk, soy, wheat, fish, shellfish, and sesame. People with food allergies usually develop digestive symptoms, such as abdominal pain, gas, cramping, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. These symptoms usually occur after eating the food to which you are allergic. Most people with food allergies know exactly what to avoid, but some food intolerances can be difficult to pinpoint. You may be intolerant to a certain food if it gives you digestive issues, such as bloating or constipation.
While the above symptoms can occur for a multitude of reasons that have nothing to do with serious digestive issues, it is still important to monitor them. By keeping an eye on how often you experience any of the above digestive issues, you’ll be ensuring you know the difference between a normal occurrence and more severe one.