In recent years, more and more research is showing the link between gut health and mental health. Studies are showing that an unhealthy gut biome can contribute to anxiety, depression, or just general brain fog. If you think about your own experiences, you can likely recall a time where you’ve felt this connection. If you are really nervous about something, maybe your stomach hurts or you don’t feel like eating. That’s the gut-brain connection.

Our gut health and digestion can affect our mental health, but it also affects our physical health. Making sure your gut health is functioning properly is important to your overall well-being. If you have persistent problems with your gut or digestion, it might be time to see a gastroenterologist.

Gastroenterologists are doctors that specialize in disorders or diseases that affect our digestive system. Gastroenterologists can treat things from acid reflux, hemorrhoids and ulcers to irritable bowel syndrome. How do you know what is just normal gas or acid reflux, and when it’s time to see an expert?

The tell tale sign for when to see a gastroenterologist is if you experience any of these symptoms for long periods of time or very frequently. Yes, some gas is normal, but if you are experiencing intense gas every day, something might be wrong.

If you have ongoing diarrhea, you should make an appointment. Besides being uncomfortable, ongoing diarrhea can lead to dehydration. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you are constipated and at home remedies don’t work, see your gastro. Having a bowel movement less than three times a week constitutes as constipation. At the opposite end of the body, if you experience really frequent or painful heartburn or acid reflux, you should see your doctor. In some cases, really bad acid reflux can cause a hoarse voice if left untreated. Untreated severe acid reflux can also cause long term damage to the esophagus and even lead to trouble swallowing.

If you feel very bloated on a regular basis, this could also be a sign that something is wrong with your digestive tract. Some bloating is common after eating, but if you feel unusually full or in pain, see your doctor. In fact, if you experience any sudden or sharp abdominal pain, you should see your doctor. Besides consulting with your doctor about what you are feeling internally, if you notice any changes in your stool, see your doctor right away. If you notice any blood in your stool, or drastic change in color, that can indicate a serious digestive issue.

When you make an appointment with a gastroenterologist, initially they will talk to you about your symptoms and what you are experiencing. From there, tests will likely be ordered to get to the bottom of your issues. Our digestive health affects so much of your bodies, and it can also be plain uncomfortable to deal with. If you have concerns, ask your primary care provider for a referral to a gastroenterologist to get to the root cause of your gut issues and start to feel better. Hancock Health has two new gastroenterologists, Doctor Syed Rizvi and Doctor Bilal Gondal.

Schedule an appointment today with our Network Navigation team at 317-468-4600.

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