There are some things that people just don’t like to talk about. Stomach troubles, unfortunately, fall pretty high on that list. And while it might not seem like a bad thing to keep digestive woes to yourself, this trend causes a lot of people to ignore issues they really shouldn't.
From frequent bloating to irregular bathroom trips and even chronic pain, people have learned to ignore when their stomach acts up. They think that the problems are either normal or too “gross” to mention around others. But the truth is that there are some stomach problems you don’t want to ignore.
And for good reason—reasons that have nothing to do with the bigger diseases that most people focus their fears on. The state of your stomach may be an early indicator for cancer and other serious conditions, of course. But there are so many other (more common) reasons to listen when your gut gives you trouble.
The health of your gut has consequences that extend well beyond your waistline. From your mood to your liver function, you might be surprised just how far your stomach can reach.
Digestive problems and bloating, as well as other symptoms, should not be ignored. Here is why:
When your stomach acts up, it is because your body is trying to tell you something. The message might be as simple as “that ground beef was past its prime,” or “that was one glass of milk too many.” But oftentimes the issue runs much deeper than that.
This is in part due to something called the Gut-Brain Connection. If you’ve ever been so hungry that you got angry—or so stressed that you lost your appetite—then you have experienced part of this connection.
In a more technical sense, the Gut-Brain Connection is a direct line from your gut to your brain and back again. When your stomach biome is unhappy, it affects the chemicals that your brain produces. These chemicals are the basis for your moods, and when they are out of balance, so are you.
The opposite is also true. When you’re depressed or angry, your brain sends signals along the Gut-Brain Connection that upset the balance of your gut biome. The result can be anything from gas to an upset stomach to feeling ill. This is also why stress can cause ulcers.
When you ignore problems in your gut, you are ignoring cues that something is wrong overall. No single part of your body is separate from the others, of course. But when your gut and brain are so closely linked, it’s important to pay attention to both.
Since your gut health has such a strong impact on your mental health, it makes sense that your gut might affect other areas of your body as well. And just like with your mental health, the way your gut affects your body is a message you should listen to.
Bloating is an excellent example. Most people dismiss it as an embarrassing and uncomfortable experience they want to keep hidden. But if you’re bloated, there is a reason, and that reason could impact your overall health.
Food intolerances are a frequent cause of bloating, for example. It’s often one of the first symptoms to manifest since your stomach is trying to digest something that your body just does not want. If you ignore this symptom, you’re likely to experience other issues—everything from acne and vomiting to appetite changes and sleeplessness.
Irregular trips to the bathroom are another stomach ailment that many people ignore. You may be embarrassed of how frequently—or how infrequently—you go. Or, once you do go, it might be very unpleasant and leave you feeling worse than before you went.
Again, this could be due to an undiagnosed food intolerance or allergy. In these cases, a solution is as easy as cutting out the foods that your stomach can’t handle. This is especially likely if you also suffer from frequent gas, headaches, upset stomach, and the bloating mentioned above.
If you refuse to talk to a doctor, however, the problems could become more severe. In some cases, you may even suffer liver damage as your body tries to process a food that it simply can’t. It might not be a pleasant topic to bring up with your doctor, but it’s an important one.
Yes, talking about stomach troubles can be stressful or embarrassing. But it can also be one of the best things you do for your overall health. Just one appointment with your doctor could get you on the road to recovery from a lot of symptoms that make it difficult for you to enjoy your day.
In some cases, you can start finding out if a food allergy is causing it. In others, you might find that your stomach is being affected by high stress levels. And in some cases, you might find that there is something even more serious going on. But in all of these cases, you have to talk to a health care professional before you know for sure.
Don’t suffer in silence. There’s no reason to. Everyone has experienced stomach trouble at some point in their lives. Whatever is bothering you, take it to a doctor. Try to start a food journal before you go so you and your doctor can see if there’s something in particular setting you off. Get the help you deserve to make your life—and your body—more enjoyable.