Most Common Signs and Symptoms of Gastrointestinal Disorders

Gastrointestinal disorders are among some of the most commonly diagnosed medical conditions, yet some people hesitate to discuss them with a doctor, especially those ones that affect bathroom habits. However, GI conditions aren’t limited to the bowel. They comprise a variety of issues, from heartburn to hepatitis C. These disorders can range in severity from acute, mildly annoying, to chronic, debilitating and potentially life-threatening. In other words, they’re well worth talking with your doctor about.

People with GI symptoms who are reluctant to speak to a doctor should remember that most people experience GI issues at some point in their lives and it’s not smart or necessary to suffer in silence. There are effective treatments, and with the help of your doctor, it’s possible to eliminate or effectively manage the symptoms caused by most common GI disorders. And if you think that GI problems are a personal or private issue, understand that a GI doctor is an expert in this sensitive subject.

When it comes to gastrointestinal (GI) conditions, symptoms can be as mild as a nagging stomach ache, or as serious as a sharp pain that lasts all day. But how do you know if your symptoms are serious?

Any symptom that lasts more than a few weeks or causes interruptions in sleep or your daily schedule should not be ignored, as they could be the sign of a more serious problem. Here are the following symptoms to look out for:

Blood in stool or vomit

Bleeding in the GI tract is not normal and needs to be evaluated by your gastroenterologist immediately. This goes for anyone experiencing blood in the stool or blood in vomit. We perform procedures like endoscopy and colonoscopy in order to evaluate and diagnose GI bleeding, which could be due to an ulcer, hemorrhoids, cancer, or other conditions.

Difficulty swallowing

If you have problems coordinating your swallowing, difficulty getting food from your mouth down your esophagus, or you feel like food keeps getting stuck in your chest, it’s important to consult with a physician. Difficulty swallowing or getting food through the esophagus into the stomach can mean there is an inflammation or some sort of narrowing or blockage within the esophagus.


Anemia is defined as having low iron in the blood. While having a balanced diet rich in iron can help raise low iron levels in the blood, there may be other causes of iron deficiency, so be sure to consult with your physician, as anemia can also be a symptom of bleeding, which means the body is losing blood or isn’t absorbing the necessary nutrients for your body to properly function. Symptoms of anemia include feeling tired, dizzy, having heart palpitations, or being short of breath. A blood test can determine if someone is anemic, however, only GI testing can determine if there is a cause within the GI tract.

For more information about common signs and symptoms of gastrointestinal disorders, schedule an appointment with one of our physicians by calling US Digestive Health at (717) 245-2228. Our board-certified physicians will help to diagnose your possible condition and offer the best treatment options available.