Gastrointestinal Diseases: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Jun 24, 2024

Preventive Health

Gastrointestinal Diseases: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Gastrointestinal (GI) stands for "related to stomach and intestine". Gastrointestinal diseases are conditions affecting the digestive system, including the stomach, intestines, liver, and pancreas. For instance, according to a study, the prevalence of digestive diseases in the US is 60 to 70 million each year. These conditions cause minor problems that may impact one's daily life in the long term. Let us learn more about gastrointestinal disease symptoms, causes, and treatments so we can find ways to prevent them.

How Do I Know If I Have Gastrointestinal Disease?

The first step to knowing if you have a gastrointestinal disease is identifying the signs and symptoms. The common symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. Other signs can be:

  • Excessive gas: Increased gas passage through belching or flatulence, accompanied by bloating, abdominal discomfort, or cramping. 
  • Fatigue: Persistent tiredness or weakness, which may result from anemia due to gastrointestinal bleeding, malnutrition, or systemic inflammation. 
  • Heartburn and acid reflux: Burning sensation in the chest or throat, often occurring after meals or when lying down. 
  • Changes in bowel habits: Alterations in the frequency, consistency, or appearance of bowel movements, such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrow stools. 
  • Weight loss: Unintentional loss of weight or decrease in appetite despite maintaining regular eating habits. 

Some gastrointestinal disease symptoms may vary depending on the condition and its severity. However, recognizing them is vital for understanding the causes.

Causes of Gastrointestinal Diseases

There are various factors that might trigger a gastrointestinal disease and lead to stomach concerns. Some common reasons behind gastrointestinal diseases include:

  • Infections: Bacterial, viral, and parasitic infections due to food contamination or pollution might lead to stomach diseases. 
  • Inflammations: Conditions like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and appendicitis can cause chronic or acute inflammation.
  • Autoimmune disorders:  Autoimmune disorders can occur in diseases like celiac disease and cause gastrointestinal problems.
  • Dietary factors: An unhealthy diet and not drinking enough water can lead to digestive problems and their symptoms.

Having identified the common causes of gastrointestinal disorders, let us examine the diagnostic techniques for these problems.

How Does a Doctor Diagnose Gastrointestinal Disease?

Diagnosing gastrointestinal diseases involves a comprehensive approach that combines medical history, physical examination, and various diagnostic tests. These methods can help healthcare providers identify the condition:

  • Analyzing the medical history: Review the medical history to see if there are any underlying problems.
  • Physical examination: It might include examining any abdominal tenderness, swelling, and other abnormalities.
  • Laboratory tests: Blood and stool tests to verify changes and detect infections, inflammation, or anemia.
  • Imaging scans: Ultrasounds, CT scans, and MRIs might be used to visualize abdominal organs and detect anomalies.
  • Endoscopic procedures: These tests examine the esophagus, abdomen, liver, and colon.

Once a gastrointestinal disease is diagnosed, the next step is finding an appropriate treatment plan.

How Do You Treat Gastrointestinal Disorders?

Treatment for functional gastrointestinal diseases varies depending on the specific condition but may include medications, dietary modifications, lifestyle changes, and, in some cases, surgical intervention. Let us see these in detail:

  • Modifying your diet: Depending on the specific condition, altering your food choices and water intake may help with gastrointestinal disease treatment.
  • Adequate rest period: Resting can help soothe physical symptoms like pain, discomfort, and fatigue.
  • Medications: In case of pain and abnormal bowel movement, over-the-counter medicines can be helpful.
  • Lifestyle changes: Changing unhealthy choices like drinking and smoking can help heal your gastrointestinal system. 
  • Surgery: In severe or chronic conditions like Crohn's disease and colon cancer, surgery can be an option.

While exploring treatment strategies is helpful in managing GI diseases, prevention steps help us avoid such conditions.

How Can Gastrointestinal Diseases Be Prevented?

Preventing gastrointestinal diseases is essential for maintaining overall health and well-being. By adopting healthy habits and making informed lifestyle choices, one can reduce the risk of developing various digestive disorders. Proper steps can be:

  • Maintaining hygiene: Clean and healthy habits, such as washing hands and proper food storage and handling, can help strengthen your gastrointestinal system.
  • Nutritional eating habits: A balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help avoid food anxiety and stomach issues.
  • Retaining a healthy weight: Obesity is a risk factor for many gastrointestinal conditions, so weight management is crucial.
  • Avoid drinking and smoking: Harmful addictions can hamper your gut health, making you more prone to gastrointestinal diseases.
  • Staying aware and educated: Being aware and seeking prompt medical attention in case of potential concerns will support keeping your digestive system healthy.

Practicing Healthy Habits and Staying Aware Helps Manage Gastrointestinal Symptoms 

Gastrointestinal diseases refer to conditions affecting our stomach and intestines. Unhealthy eating habits, infections, or underlying conditions cause these diseases. However, practicing healthier routines, seeking professional help, and maintaining clean eating habits can help manage these conditions.

Newnan Family Medicine Helps Find Effective Treatment Plans for Gastrointestinal Disease Symptoms

Exploring relief options for gastrointestinal problems? Let us find a treatment plan curated according to your gut health. At Newnan Family Medicine Associates, P.C., we have a team of experienced providers who provide acute and preventive care. With our extended support and comprehensive guidance, you will be back on your feet and free of gastrointestinal diseases.

Request an appointment with us today.


What are some of the common gastrointestinal diseases that healthcare providers treat? 

Common gastrointestinal diseases treated by healthcare providers include gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), celiac disease, and peptic ulcers.

How do you know something is wrong with your intestines? 

Signs of intestinal problems may include abdominal pain, bloating, changes in bowel habits, rectal bleeding, and unexplained weight loss.

How do you keep your gastrointestinal system healthy? 

Maintaining a balanced diet, staying hydrated, exercising regularly, managing stress, avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, and getting regular medical check-ups can help keep your gastrointestinal system healthy.

What foods should you avoid if you have gastrointestinal problems?

Foods that may affect gastrointestinal symptoms include spicy foods, fatty foods, dairy products (if lactose intolerant), caffeine, and carbonated beverages. It's important to identify trigger foods and limit or avoid them as needed.

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