It can be frightening to experience digestive symptoms, yet not know what is wrong with your stomach. Sometimes worries can be soothed by taking positive action. Read on for some simple steps that you can take to begin to address the problem and work your way toward finding symptom relief.
1. Call for a Doctor's Appointment
Although your Aunt Sally may think she knows everything about stomach problems, her advice may be off the mark for you. A medical doctor is best equipped to assess what may be behind your digestive distress. If you are experiencing any "red-flag symptoms", such as rectal bleeding, it is essential that you seek immediate medical care.
Need help in locating a doctor? The following sites can help:
- UCompareHealthCare: This service provides you with free reports on physicians in your community. If you do not already have a primary care physician, you could start by choosing "Internal Medicine" on the Specialty drop-down menu. If you would like specialized digestive care in the form of a gastroenterologist, you would choose "Gastroenterology" from the drop-down menu.
- Physician Locator: This site is provided as a service by the American College of Gastroenterology. Simply plug in your geographic location and you will be provide with the names, addresses, and phone numbers of gastroenterologists in your area (U.S. and Canada only).
Note that some gastroenterologists will not accept new patients without a referral from a primary-care provider (your insurance company may require this referral as well.
Keeping track of the circumstances in which you experience your symptoms can provide helpful information to both yourself and your doctor. You may be surprised by what you discover in terms of patterns or potential triggers. Be sure to bring this visual record with you when you visit your doctor.
3. Educate Yourself
While you are waiting to see your doctor you can educate yourself as to what might be causing your symptoms. This article provides an overview of the ten most common digestive health problems.