A leading group of U.S. tummy doctors wants Americans to get used to talking about their bowel symptoms, at least with their physicians.
People are hesitant to discuss digestive trouble with a medical professional, with one in three saying they would mention it only if their doctor brought it up first, according to the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA).
Patients often wait until symptoms worsen or become severe before getting help. This may be partly because talking about bowel symptoms makes people uncomfortable, the AGA noted.
“We must normalize the conversation around uncomfortable GI [gastrointestinal] symptoms with our patients,” said Dr. Rajeev Jain, a gastroenterologist in Dallas and AGA patient education advisor.
“That means enabling patients to know their normal, know what questions to ask, and shorten the time from the onset of symptoms to the patient-provider conversation,” Jain added in an association news release.
The AGA’s new “Trust Your Gut” campaign aims to get those discussions started.
When should you see a gastroenterologist?
A gastroenterologist is a specialist with expertise in the disorders and diseases that affect the digestive system
The digestive disorders and issues that a gastroenterologist treats include:
- Unexplained changes in bowel habits, including diarrhea, constipation and blood in the stool
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Here are seven signs that you may need to see a gastroenterologist: