There are dozens of conditions associated with the gut and stomach, some of which are more common than others.
Even very mild gastroenterological symptoms can leave you feeling unwell, uncomfortable, low on energy and irritable.
Frequently, people try to live with the early symptoms, even though there are often simple treatments that can be provided following an effective and specialist diagnosis.
Early diagnosis of a gastroenterological health problem ensures the right course of action can be taken to alleviate your pain and discomfort.
Some gastroenterological symptoms can also be the starting point for longer-term issues. It is therefore vital to seek expert help and support to protect your future quality of health.
Gastro-Oesophageal Reflex Disease (GORD) is where the stomach acid leaks into the oesophagus causing heartburn, acid reflux or pain swallowing.
This is a common problem affecting many people and can usually be controlled with over-the-counter medication.
If you are experiencing this on a more regular basis then it could be an indicator of a more serious problem so an appointment is advised.
A polyp is an abnormal growth of tissue from an internal or external surface of a body part. It is very common to see polyps arising from the lining of the colon or large bowel.
They are small, typically less than 10 to 20mm, so you would have no idea you have them.
A polyp can be very flat or it can appear hanging on a little stalk a bit like a tiny cherry or grape. These types of bowel polyp are usually picked up and removed at the time of a colonoscopy.
More often than not, they are benign and nothing to worry about. However, it is typically best to remove them as they are recognised to be a potential pre-cursor of bowel cancer.
If they are left untreated, they could grow in size over the years with a risk of possibly turning into a cancer one day. The name given to those that can develop into a cancer is ‘adenoma’.
Not all polyps can turn into cancer though. Many other types of polyps in the human body can never become cancerous.
It is a case of getting a specialist diagnosis to determine any necessary treatment.
Piles, otherwise known as haemorrhoids, are actually swollen veins in the rectum and can contribute to itching, pain and bleeding.
They can be seen externally, or in other cases they are just internal.
Hard bowel movements or constipation can make haemorrhoids worse, or lead to irritation and bleeding.
At home, symptomatic patients can soak their buttocks in 3 inches of warm water a few times a day and this can help alleviate pain and itching.
There are also several over-the-counter ointments and suppositories, which can help with haemorrhoids. If they bleed though, and this is bothersome to you, a doctor can refer you to have the haemorrhoids treated.
Treatment is typically carried out with tiny rubber bands, causing the haemorrhoids to fall off as their blood supply is removed. Alternatively, they can be injected with chemicals or destroyed by laser treatment.
Finally if they are really bothersome a surgeon can operate to remove them.
Rectal bleeding, which is not occasional, should not be ignored. First consult with a specialist to see if an examination in the form of a flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy is required, before a diagnosis of haemorrhoids is made.
A diverticulum is a pouch like structure which forms in the muscular wall of the colon wall, particularly where blood vessels enter. They are very common and nothing to worry about.
Most patients are completely asymptomatic but a few will develop symptoms, which may include pain and rectal bleeding.
When the pouches become inflamed this is known as diverticulitis, and it usually settles down on its own. However, some patients start a clear fluids diet and antibiotics until their symptoms resolve.
In a few cases hospital admission is required for antibiotics, and surgery may be necessary to resolve the issue, but that is not at all common these days.
Diverticula can be clearly seen at colonoscopy, but undertaking a colonoscopy simply to show that someone has them is rarely done.
Another test which can show whether someone has them or not is the non-invasive so called ‘virtual colonoscopy’ which is in fact a CT X ray scan of the colon.
Feel reassured that you are not alone and that specialist help is available.