Gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms are common among Americans. In fact, according to the National Institute of Health, between 60 and 70 million Americans are diagnosed with GI diseases every year.

If you believe the symptoms you are experiencing point to a possible GI disease, read on as our AFC Urgent Care Chapman Highway team highlights what you need to know below!

What Should I Know About GI Diseases?

Gastrointestinal diseases affect the gastrointestinal (GI) tract from the mouth to the anus, and there are two types of GI diseases: functional and structural. Functional GI diseases are those in which the GI tract looks normal when examined but doesn’t move properly. They are the most common type of GI disease, and they include examples such as constipation, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), GERD and diarrhea.

Structural GI diseases are those where your bowel looks abnormal upon examination and also doesn’t work properly. At times, the structural abnormality will need to be removed surgically. Examples of structural GI diseases include hemorrhoids, diverticular disease, colon polyps, colon cancer and inflammatory bowel disease. We’ve listed the most common symptoms of GI problems below.

Common GI Symptoms

  • Abdominal discomfort (bloating, pain or cramps)
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Acid reflux (heartburn)
  • Diarrhea, constipation (or sometimes both)
  • Fecal incontinence
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty swallowing

How Can I Know If I Have a GI Disease?

If you experience the symptoms we’ve listed above, you are almost certainly dealing with a GI disease of some sort. Don’t hesitate to visit our AFC team to get further care and to learn more about what your body is experiencing.

Even though GI diseases are very common, they also remain very preventable. We’ve listed some of the best things you can do on a day-to-day basis to lower your risk of experiencing a GI disease below.

Ways to Prevent GI Diseases

  • Maintain a healthy diet. Add fiber, lower salt intake, drink lots of water and eat a variety of whole foods rather than processed foods.
  • Stay active. Getting at least 150 minutes per week of physical activity can put you on the right path to a healthy lifestyle.
  • Be wary of your medications. Over-the-counter and prescription drugs can cause digestive problems, so talk to your doctor about possible side effects and ask for a substitute if a medicine is causing GI issues.

Want to learn more about GI diseases? Don’t hesitate to contact our AFC Urgent Care Chapman Highwayteam today!