EXPERIENCING ABDOMINAL SYMPTOMS?

Abdominal, bowel and anal symptoms

Patients are often embarrassed or worried when they experience symptoms relating to the abdomen, bowel and anus, but it is essential you seek medical advice. They could be an indication of conditions such as haemorrhoids or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and usually aren’t a sign of something more serious, but further investigations might be required to rule out more serious conditions including cancer.

Abdominal, bowel and anal symptoms

Patients are often embarrassed or worried when they experience symptoms relating to the abdomen, bowel and anus, but it is essential you seek medical advice. They could be an indication of conditions such as haemorrhoids or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and usually aren’t a sign of something more serious, but further investigations might be required to rule out more serious conditions including cancer.

Bleeding

You may notice blood in or on your stools or bleeding into the pan after a bowel movement.  This means there is bleeding somewhere in the digestive tract. Simple causes such as haemorrhoids (piles) and anal fissures (tears) are common. More rarely, bleeding may be the first sign of inflammatory bowel disease, polyps (benign growths) and bowel cancer. If symptoms persist therefore or if bleeding occurs in conjunction with a change in bowel habit it is essential you seek help from your GP or alternatively get in touch with us.

Changes to your bowel habit

This can either be constipation, diarrhoea, change in poo frequency or indeed consistency. There might be a simple explanation such as a change in diet, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), new medication (including antibiotics) or a bout of gastroenteritis. However, if it is long lasting (longer than six weeks) it can be a sign of more serious conditions such as Crohn’s disease or colitis (inflammation in the bowel), bowel infections or even bowel cancer. It is therefore important to see your GP or get in touch with us.

Abdominal pain and/or bloating

The exact cause of abdominal pain can be hard to determine and it can help to track the severity of the pain, location and frequency. The causes of abdominal pain are many and most are not serious. Bloating or abdominal distension is a commonly reported symptom and if severe is often quite distressing for the patient. This can occur in conjunction with pain or on its own. Once again it is rare that there is a serious underlying cause but if symptoms of pain and/or bloating persist  or there is an increase in severity or frequency you should tell your doctor or alternatively contact us.

Pain in your anus

This can be caused by a whole range of colorectal conditions including thrombosed piles, fissures (tears) and haematomas (small anal blood clots) through to more serious conditions diseases such as Crohn’s disease and rarely anal cancer. Bleeding can accompany pain.

Itchy bottom

An intense itching sensation, known as pruritus ani, may be annoying but isn’t usually a sign of a serious disease. It can be caused by haemorrhoids, infections, diet, medications, and the products you are using. Simple measure often make a big difference here so it is worth mentioning.

Fatigue, weight loss or signs of anaemia

Anaemia (a reduction in blood haemoglobin), whilst not a definitive or exclusive sign of bowel or abdominal disease, can be caused by serious conditions including bowel polyps and cancers. Cancers and precancerous polyps can bleed into the digestive tract slowly over time without you noticing. This, in turn, can lead to a loss of iron causing anaemia; leaving you feeling tired and even short of breath, If you find yourself tired more often, asking for a blood test to check your haemoglobin count is the first step.

Sometimes there is an obvious explanation to the anaemia for example women who have heavy periods. That said, the majority of patients with an iron deficiency anaemia (all men and post-menopausal women) should have some form of upper and lower gut imaging urgently – even if they have no other abdominal or bowel symptoms. The gold standard would be a fibre optic gastroscopy and colonoscopy but there are alternatives. If you have an unexplained anaemia, secondary to low iron or an anaemia with bowel symptoms such as a change in bowel habit, you must get this checked out. Your GP should refer you to a specialist for further evaluation. Alternatively, you are welcome to contact us.

Leakage or incontinence

Not being able to hang onto your poo and having accidents is an incredibly embarrassing condition, but not a lot of people know it is very common and there is a lot that can be done about it. You do not necessarily need to suffer, so do tell your doctor if this is an issue for you.

Inability to swallow

This is called dysphagia and it is a sensation of food not proceeding down or getting stuck in the gullet or oesophagus. Whilst there are non-cancerous causes for this, if you experience this symptom you must tell your doctor or specialist immediately.

Heartburn or indigestion

This has many guises, but can be a feeling of stomach contents refluxing back up the gullet. Sometimes this can be perceived as a burning sensation (heartburn). Upper abdominal pain with excessive bloating and burping can also occur. These symptom sometimes need to be investigated and can be treated so it is worth mentioning to your doctor or specialist.