Stomach troubles are something we all deal with, with varying degrees of severity and  frequency. So how are you supposed to know when your stomach pains and diarrhea might be a chronic issue that you should seek medical treatment for?

My Stomach Pains And Diarrhea Are Usually Infrequent And Not Severe

These circumstances are typically nothing to worry about, as long as you find yourself experiencing minor stomach pains and diarrhea every once and awhile. There are several causes of these types of stomach issues–some are external and others are internal.

One external cause which occurs due to environmental factors is gastroenteritis. Gastroenteritis is an umbrella term that includes anything from food poisoning to basic stomach flu. The stomach flu should, however, not be confused with the virus caused by influenza. Gastroenteritis can stem from contaminated food, viruses, bacteria, or parasites.

Other causes of temporary stomach issues can include physical reactions to eating certain foods. For instance, your body may not be able to handle really rich foods, those high in fat, or you could have a sensitivity to gluten or other ingredients found in foods you’re eating. In addition to having a bad reaction to certain types of food, you should be equally concerned about the amount of food you are eating, and in some cases, even the time of day you’re choosing to eat. If you find adverse reactions to certain foods occurring frequently, you should consider keeping track of your diet to determine if there is a pattern to what irritates your stomach. Lastly, it could just be a case of indigestion. Indigestion can occur when you eat too much or too quickly. For some people, it also occurs if you eat large meals late at night. If this sounds like you, try eating smaller meals earlier in the day.

My Problems Are More Severe And They Happen Frequently

Some people with a chronic illness experience different stomach issues. They may be suffering from a disease of the gastrointestinal tract– inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

IBD covers two conditions, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. IBD causes potentially long-term damage along the digestive tract, notably within the large intestine and rectum. Both Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis can be evident with frequent diarrhea, fever and fatigue, cramping, reduced appetite, bloody stools, and unintended weight loss. There is currently no cure for IBD, but with proper maintenance in cooperation with your GI doctor, you may be able to get the disease and symptoms under control and maintain a normal lifestyle.  

If you’re experiencing all of the above-mentioned symptoms of IBD, you may alternatively be dealing with a condition known as irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS. Although they may appear to be the same thing to an untrained eye, they’re actually very different. While IBD can result in long-term damage to the digestive system, IBS is a functional disorder, which means that there’s something in your digestive system that is indeed not operating correctly, but there is no identifiable physical reason that is causing the pain and discomfort.

How Can My Doctor Help? 

There are many reasons to visit one of the experts at Asheville Gastroenterology Associates, a division of Digestive Health Partners. You should seek a diagnosis and treatment if you’ve been managing a condition including stomach pain and diarrhea that occurs frequently and is debilitating to your lifestyle, as it may be something serious like IBD. However, if you find yourself sick for a few days due to a stomach bug or something minor, you can usually recover through rest, lots of fluids, and monitoring your diet. If you have any questions about these conditions and how we can help, book an appointment through our website to find out more from one of our doctors.