One in five Americans suffers from digestive problems, and these problems can range from mild to life-threatening. Fortunately, you can treat most digestive problems with lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications. However, it is essential to seek medical help if your digestive issues are severe or don’t improve with treatment.
There are several reasons why it is essential to maintain good digestive health:
- Improper digestion can lead to malnutrition.
- Undigested food can provide a breeding ground for harmful bacteria and parasites.
- Gastrointestinal problems can cause a great deal of pain and discomfort.
- Gastrointestinal issues can interfere with daily activities and overall quality of life.
Despite being a common health issue that most people go through, there is no denying how disruptive and painful digestive problems can be. If you are experiencing digestive pain, it is essential to take immediate action, starting with these steps.
It can be tricky to have digestive problems from time to time, especially when a visit to the doctor can make you financially struggle. As a result, you might have to endure your pain until it passes, but it doesn’t mean you can’t do something about it.
Several home remedies can help improve digestion and relieve digestive problems. Below are some of the most effective home remedies:
- Consume plenty of fluids: Drinking plenty of fluids is one of the best ways to prevent and treat digestive problems. Fluids help keep the bowels hydrated and promote regular bowel movements. They also help flush out toxins from the body. The best liquids to drink for digestive health are water, herbal tea, and freshly squeezed juices.
- Eat fiber-rich foods: Fiber is an essential nutrient for proper digestion. It helps add bulk to stools and speeds up bowel movements. Good sources of fiber include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
- Avoid processed and fatty foods: Processed and fatty foods are difficult to digest and can cause indigestion, heartburn, and other digestive problems. Therefore, it is essential to avoid these foods as much as possible.
- Exercise regularly: Exercise helps improve digestion by stimulating bowel movements. It also helps relieve stress, which can aggravate digestive problems.
If home remedies don’t work, you may need to take over-the-counter medications to relieve your symptoms. Antacids are the most common medications for digestive problems, which help neutralize stomach acid. Other options include H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors, which reduce stomach acid production. If these medications don’t work, your doctor may prescribe more potent drugs.
Medications like painkillers and antibiotics can also help relieve pain and treat infections. However, it is essential to take these medications only as prescribed by your doctor.
When to See a Doctor
Digestive problems can be painful and disruptive, but most can get treated at home. However, you should see a doctor if you experience any of the following:
- Blood in your stool
- Weight loss
- Persistent vomiting
- Changes in stool appearance
- Abdominal pain that lasts more than a few days
- Fever or chills
These symptoms may indicate a more serious underlying condition that requires medical treatment. Therefore, you must see a doctor if you experience these symptoms.
Seeking Endoscopy Services
If you have digestive problems that don’t improve with home treatment or over-the-counter medications, you may need to see a gastroenterologist for further evaluation. A gastroenterologist is a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of digestive disorders.
Endoscopy is one of the most common tests used to diagnose digestive problems. An endoscopy is a procedure that involves inserting a small camera into the body to examine the digestive tract. Doctors can use it to analyze various conditions, including ulcers, Crohn’s disease, and cancer. Fortunately, you can easily schedule an endoscopy procedure online if you already have a permit from your doctor to take it.
Preparing for Surgery
Unfortunately, findings might uncover the need for surgery to fix the digestive problem. In this case, you will be scheduled for a consultation with a surgeon to discuss your options. The most common type of surgery for digestive problems is laparoscopic surgery. Laparoscopic surgery is a minimally invasive procedure that uses small incisions and special instruments to access the digestive tract. It is less painful and has a shorter recovery time than traditional open surgery.
If you need surgery for your digestive problem, your doctor will schedule a pre-operative appointment to discuss the details of the procedure and what you can expect. During this appointment, you will also get asked to sign a consent form that gives your doctor permission to perform the surgery.
Having digestive problems can be painful and disruptive. However, simple home remedies can treat most digestive issues at home. If these don’t work, you may need to take over-the-counter medications or see a gastroenterologist for further evaluation. In some cases, surgery might be necessary to fix the problem. Fortunately, most procedures are minimally invasive and have a short recovery time.
If you experience any of the symptoms listed above, see your doctor get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Early treatment can help relieve your symptoms and prevent the condition from worsening.