Gastrointestinal (GI) diseases are very common, but they can be quite severe for some. Although many Americans experience acute GI diseases each year, over 20 million Americans deal with chronic GI diseases each year, too.
Read on to learn more about GI diseases from our AFC Urgent Care Mooresville team.
What Is a GI Disease?
A GI disease is any problem affecting the GI tract, which includes the throat, stomach and intestines. Acute, short-term illnesses—more commonly known as “stomach bugs”—can be diagnosed as a GI illness, although they often aren’t as severe nor do they last as long as chronic GI diseases.
GI diseases that are long-term, such as Crohn’s disease or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), typically require more speciality treatment. GI disease symptoms are often very recognizable, and we’ve listed them 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
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty swallowing
Is It Possible to Prevent GI Diseases?
In many cases, it is possible, but not all GI diseases are totally preventable. Many chronic GI diseases are genetic, but even so, living a healthy lifestyle can go a long way in lowering your risk of developing GI issues.
Another more specific way to make sure your body is protected from GI issues is by getting a colonoscopy when it is time, which is age 45 for average-risk patients. However, if you have a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps, a colonoscopy may be recommended at a younger age or more frequently. We’ve listed a few more prevention tactics 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 with your doctor about possible side effects and ask for a substitute if a medicine is causing GI issues.
Are you feeling less than your best? If so, our AFC Urgent Care Mooresville team is here to help you feel better! Don’t hesitate to visit us today.