The gastrointestinal tract is made of the gut. Other accessory organs of the gastrointestinal tract include the liver, the gallbladder, and the pancreas. It is the GIT that helps the body in the digestion of the food substances. When there is a problem with the gastrointestinal system, various signs and symptoms will present. Some of them can be an urgent reason to see a doctor. They include feeling like vomiting(nausea), swallowing fluids, difficulty with swallowing solid foods, bloody vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, bloody stool, loss of weight, and itching of the skin and yellowness of the eye

(1) Feeling like vomiting(Nausea)/Vomiting: There are various causes of nausea, some of them are not due to alarming underlying reasons that can need visiting a gastroenterologist. Examples of such can arise from poor eating or fluctuations in some hormones of the body. Even anxiety can make a person feel nauseated sometimes. But however, nausea persisting for days or weeks may require the need to see a gastroenterologist. This is because one of the signs of appendicitis is nausea and vomiting. Although there are other signs and symptoms that will accompany nausea and vomiting for appendicitis to be confirmed including pain in the right lower part of the abdomen. Rotavirus and giardia infections can also present with vomiting that can last for days.

(2) The difficulty with swallowing foods(solids and liquids): This is also in many terms called dysphagia. Pain that accompanies swallowing of liquids is called odynophagia in medical term.There are many causes of dysphagia and odynophagia. Dysphagia may be due to congenital or developmental conditions, neurological diseases, complications of head and neck surgery. Gastrointestinal causes of dysphagia include condition6s like achalasia(dilatation of the lower end of the esophagus), pharyngeal pouches(in which a big sack develops in the upper part of the esophagus, as a result of this, swallowing both liquids and solids becomes difficult). Other causes include gastroesophageal reflux disease. The reflux(moving back) of the acid in the stomach into the lower part of the esophagus can cause the lower end of the esophagus to be scared, this can make it become narrowed and therefore making swallowing difficult. So if you have had heartburn sensation before, and now it is becoming difficult for you to swallow food, then you need to see a gastroenterologist as soon as possible. Systemic scleroderma is a connective tissue disorder. One of the abnormalities in it is that immune system of the body attacks the muscle cells. When this occurs, the esophagus can become thickened leading to difficulty with swallowing.

(3) Bloody vomiting: It is medically called haematemesis. It occurs when there is blood in the vomitus. The blood in the vomitus may be little or much. Sometimes the vomitus can be completely blood. There are various causes of this condition. One of this can occur more in the alcoholics. It is called Mallory-Weiss tear. It is often as a result of severe and prolonged vomiting, causing a tear in the lining of the esophagus. This can result in much bleeding. If the bleeding does not resolve within less than a week, it may need surgical correction. Mallory Weiss tear may also occur in people who have bulimia(a condition characterized with binge eating then followed by purging. Trying to purge by vomiting over and over again in people with bulimia can result into Mallory Weiss tear).

(4) Abdominal pain:

 

 

This is one of the gastrointestinal symptoms that must not be overlooked. There are various causes of abdominal pain. The site can suggest the part of the GIT where the abnormality is coming from. They include peptic ulcer(including duodenal or gastric ulcer) gastritis, chron’s disease, ulcerative colitis, appendicitis, liver abnormalities, abnormalities of the gallbladder or the pancreas and so on. The pain has various characteristics, e.g., peptic ulcer pain is usually associated with eating, i.e., gastric(stomach ulcer) is usually worsened by eating while duodenal ulcer is usually relieved by eating. Abdominal pain due to pancreatitis can also be felt at the back, i.e., it moves to the back too. Pain due to gallbladder stones can also be felt in the shoulder region.

(5) Diarrhea: This is the increase in the frequency, fluidity, and volume of the stool. It is also referred to as passage of loose stool. Loose stool is the stool that takes the shape of the container. There are various causes of diarrhea. The most common cause in children is the virus called rotavirus. Diarrhea should not be overlooked most especially when it persists for days, this is because it can make a person to become dehydrated. Dehydration can cause injury to the kidney if it is not corrected.

(6)Constipation: This refers to a reduction in bowel movement less than the person usually has. Constipated people have difficulty defecating. An adult that will not have a bowel movement for three consecutive days is considered to have constipation. There are various causes of constipation, and if it is lasting for weeks, you may need to visit a gastroenterologist. Causes of constipation include obstruction of the rectum by tumor, cancer, etc. This is why if you are have been experiencing loss of weight and having constipation, you need to see a gastroenterologist

(7)Bloody stool: This can be due to gastrointestinal bleeding(lower part of the GIT), hemorrhoids, rectal tumor, fissures in the anus, e.t.c. These conditions need prompt and proper management, and this is why you need to see a gastroenterologist most especially if the bloody stool is persisting for days. Fresh blood in the stool may show bleeding from your rectum

(8) Passage of pale or clay-coloured stool: This can be a symptom of jaundice, most especially if there is pain in the right upper part of the abdomen.

(9) Itching of the skin and pain in the right upper part of the abdomen: It can be an indication of gallbladder disease, so if you are experiencing this, you may need to see a gastroenterologist.

(10) Indigestion: It is another reason you may need to see a gastroenterologist. It is the feeling of uncomfortable fullness after a meal.

In conclusion, there may be other symptoms of the gastrointestinal diseases, but the ones mentioned above may need you to see a gastroenterologist, most especially if they persist for days or weeks.

 

References

 

Krugman, S., Gershon, A., Hotez, P., & Katz, S. (2004). Krugman’s infectious diseases of children. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby.

Fichna, J. Introduction to gastrointestinal diseases.

Fashner, J., & Gitu, A. (2013). Common gastrointestinal symptoms. Leawood, KS: American