What to Know About Gastrointestinal Health

March 2, 2021

Ever feel bloated, nauseous or gassy far more than you feel normal? Dealing with abdominal cramps frequently? Making way too many trips to the bathroom? It could be a sign of something serious.

Gastrointestinal (GI) disorders affect many Americans every day and can range from annoyances to life-threatening diseases. Thankfully, many of these diseases are preventable and all it takes is just some minor lifestyle changes.

Common GI Disorders & Procedures

While going to the doctor for a stomachache may seem ridiculous to some, chronic abdominal pain is no laughing matter and should be taken seriously.

Common GI disorders can range from conditions such as heartburn and acid reflux to more serious diseases like Celiac disease — an intolerance of gluten — and lactose intolerance, which is when the body completely rejects dairy products. Even worse still, some GI problems can manifest themselves years later as a form of cancer, such as esophageal, gastric or stomach, colorectal, pancreatic, and liver.

The range of gastroenterological procedures to diagnose and treat these diseases is also quite varied. Procedures can range from minimally invasive — such as colonoscopies, endoscopies and appendectomies, to name a few — to open surgeries like abdominal surgeries, Roux-en-Y (bypassing or connecting the intestines) and Whipple procedures, also known as pancreaticoduodenectomies.

How to Improve Your GI Health

Thankfully, your GI health can be managed relatively easily.

First, incorporate more fiber into your diet. Fiber helps provide fuel for cells in the colon as well as keeping the digestive system running smoothly. Foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes and whole grains are excellent sources of fiber and should be included into your diet more regularly. Conversely, cut out fatty foods that can harm the healthy bacteria in your digestive system.

Second, get moving. Exercising is not only a great way to shed excess pounds, but also a great way to stay regular. Moving your body around assists in moving food through your digestive system and keeps it from staying put.

Third, cut out bad habits like drinking and smoking, both of which can result in gastrointestinal disorders ranging from heartburn and ulcers to esophageal cancer and liver cancer. In addition, while late-night snacking may seem harmless, eating right before you lie down for the night can lead to acid reflux, heartburn or indigestion.

Finally, drink plenty of water. Not only will you keep your body hydrated, but by drinking enough water throughout the day, you’ll effectively clean out your digestive system, soften your stool and help your body absorb nutrients.

When Should You See a Doctor?

Riding out an occasional stomach ache isn’t necessarily bad for you, but when stomachaches and other issues become frequent, you may have a problem.

Call a Gastroenterologist if any of the following symptoms become chronic problems:

Need to make an appointment?

Dr. John Bozdech sees patients every Friday at Culbertson Memorial Hospital. To schedule an appointment with him call (217) 322-5271. If you have other medical concerns and need to see a provider, our team is here to help. Contact us and schedule a general appointment today.