Gas, bloating, diarrhea and constipation aren’t exactly the stuff of polite conversation. But live with one of these symptoms for any length of time, and the associated discomfort starts taking up a sizeable chunk of your mental bandwidth.
Can I eat that food without suffering afterwards? Can I risk being more than a few minutes away from a washroom?
Yet despite this kind of distress, people with these symptoms often forge on without consulting a health care provider. Whether that’s out of embarrassment, the belief that the problem will resolve on its own, or the conviction nothing can be done to improve or manage such issues, isn’t clear.
While getting relief is rarely as simple as just taking a pill, in most cases, it’s possible to narrow down a probable cause, and from there, the treatments that can be used to help manage symptoms.
So what can you do if you’re struggling with one of these common digestive issues? And what are the ‘red flags’ that warrant urgently seeking medical attention to rule out serious — albeit uncommon — potential culprits?
Thank-you to the three experts who so generously agreed to be interviewed for the story: Andrea Hardy, a registered dietitian with Ignite Nutrition in Calgary; Dr. Yasmin Nasser, a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Medicine, and clinician-scientist in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the University of Calgary; and Dr. Jessica Otte, a Nanaimo, BC family physician specializing in geriatrics and palliative care, and a clinical assistant professor and member of the Therapeutics Initiative at the University of British Columbia.
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