Top 5 GI Problems Affecting Men
No one is immune to developing gastrointestinal issues at one point or another in their lifetime and some GI problems tend to affect a higher percentage of men overall. While some of these conditions can be treated with at-home remedies, others have more serious implications and should be addressed by a gastroenterologist. To help you better understand your health, we’re sharing the top GI problems that affect men and what you can do to help treat these problems.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD):
In our last blog, we took a closer look at heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), but you may be surprised to know that GERD is one of the most common GI conditions affecting men. Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a condition in which stomach acid frequently flows back into the esophagus, the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. Over time, this stomach acid can begin to irritate the lining of the esophagus. If you are experiencing acid reflux symptoms at least twice a week, this is the first indication that you may have gastroesophageal reflux disease. Common symptoms include a sharp burning sensation in your chest after eating, a sour taste in the mouth when bending over or lying down, and hoarseness of voice.
Some home remedies for GERD include avoiding food that triggers acid reflux, elevating your head when you sleep at night and waiting at least three hours after eating to lay down or go to sleep. You can also help control symptoms by slowly and thoroughly chewing your food. If these changes don’t help, schedule an appointment with your gastroenterologist. Medications may be needed to control your GERD.
In general, women are more likely to visit the doctor when they’re ill, while men tend to avoid discussing symptoms or scheduling appointments if they suspect something is off in their gastrointestinal health. Because of this tendency to avoid seeking help, men tend to try and fix the problem themselves using short-term pain relievers. Long-term use of these medications, like aspirin and ibuprofen, may damage the inner lining of the stomach and intestines, resulting in the formation of gastric ulcers. When left untreated, ulcers can cause severe pain and create a hole in the digestive tract. Fortunately, ulcers can be treated, but this treatment will require a trip to the gastroenterologist.
Most people have experienced constipation at some point in their lifetime. While it is seen more commonly in women (especially during pregnancy), chronic constipation is increasingly common in older men. Constipation is typically caused by not eating enough fiber, a sedentary lifestyle, or a side effect of certain medications. If you are having trouble going to the bathroom or experiencing hard stools, incomplete emptying, and passing stools fewer times than normal, certain lifestyle changes can help. Try exercising, drinking more water, incorporating more fiber into your diet. You should see a doctor if you have bloody stool, severe pain, or if your condition becomes chronic.
Men tend to have faster colonic transit times than women, which can result in loose or watery stools. This is why diarrhea seems to be one of the top GI problems affecting men. Diarrhea can also be caused by various reasons, including lactose intolerance, consumption of artificial sweeteners, or other gastrointestinal conditions such as Crohn’s disease, IBS, and celiac disease. While diarrhea is, in most cases, a temporary condition, severe cases can result in dehydration. Consult your doctor if your diarrhea lasts more than a few days or if it is accompanied by dehydration, fever, or severe abdominal pain.
According to the American Cancer Society, men have a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer. Fortunately, colorectal cancer is highly treatable when diagnosed in the early stages, which is why getting a colonoscopy when you reach the age of 45 is essential. Symptoms of colon cancer include blood in stool, irregular bowel movements, rapid weight loss, and anemia. If you are age 45 or older, have an increased risk of colon cancer, or have any symptoms, reach out to a specialist at Birmingham Gastroenterology today.
Contact Birmingham Gastroenterology
If you are having trouble with your digestive health, Birmingham Gastroenterology can help. We have decades of experience treating diseases and disorders in all parts of the digestive system. To make an appointment to discuss your symptoms and treatment options, call us at (205) 271-8000.