Are you concerned about your gut health? Or do you have seemingly random symptoms that could be attributable to common gut issues? Find out how we identify and treat common gut issues from a holistic, functional medicine perspective.
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Digestive issues are more common than you might realize, and poor gut health can cause more than just an upset stomach. Functional medicine looks at gut health from a holistic perspective – taking time to understand what causes digestive issues and how gut health can impact other areas of your life.
How Common Are Gut Issues?
Gut issues are extremely common in the U.S. The statistics on gut issues tell the story. About 60 to 70 million people have digestive diseases, 7.9 million have emergency treatment for digestive problems, and 3.8 million have a primary diagnosis of digestive disorders in outpatient settings.
Digestive diseases and gut issues are closely linked, and your functional medicine doctor can determine how poor gut health might be affecting your life and which root causes and lifestyle factors are causing dysfunction with your digestive system. With a thorough patient interview, examination, and lab testing, Dr. Radawi identifies the specific problem (or problems) impacting your health and dives deeper to find the source.
Do you need to find out if gut issues are at the root of your health problems? Read our blog, 10 Signs You May Have an Unhealthy Gut (And How to Fix It).
5 Gut Issues You Might Experience
The gut issues you might experience can come in many forms. Some people may have a generally unhealthy gut that could easily tip into a full-blown disease. Others suffer from specific syndromes and diseases. Here are five of the most common gut issues we see at Tri-Cities Functional Medicine.
Reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux or GERD, might seem like no more than a nuisance. However, reflux can have a significant, long-term impact on your health.
With GERD, after you eat, you feel an uncomfortable burning in your throat. In this condition, your stomach acid travels up your esophagus, and the backwash irritates its lining. It can also be triggered when there is not enough stomach acid.
Symptoms of reflux include the following:
- Heartburn after eating, at night, or when lying down
- Sour liquid or food comes back up into your mouth
- Pain in the upper abdomen or chest
- Problems with swallowing
- Feeling like you have a lump in your throat
- A persistent cough
- Vocal cord inflammation or laryngitis
- Asthma gets worse or begins
Because some of the signs of reflux are similar to a heart attack, people who have severe reflux sometimes have trouble knowing when to seek emergency treatment. However, the reflux alone can cause long-term damage to your upper digestive system. For both these reasons, it’s important to see a functional medicine doctor, like Dr. Radawi, who can diagnose the gut issue, identify why reflux is happening, and develop a treatment plan.
2) Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a chronic condition that can come with symptoms like the following:
- Pain, cramping, or bloating in the abdomen related bowel movements
- The appearance of bowel movements has changed
- You have bowel movements more or less often than before
- Not being able to completely empty your bowel
- Increased gas
- Mucus in the stools
In IBS, the bowel looks no different from a healthy bowel. However, it doesn’t work in the usual way. In other words, it is a functional disorder. The small muscles that move the food through the bowels either move too quickly or too slowly. Nerves in the digestive system can cause overreactions to digestive changes. Viruses or bacteria can change how your gut moves food through your system. Whatever the underlying cause, the resulting disruption in the rate of movement causes diarrhea when those muscles move too fast or constipation when they move too slowly.
The pain and bowel movement issues are difficult enough to deal with, but IBS can also cause more serious problems, such as the following.
- Unwanted weight loss
- Diarrhea at night
- Rectal bleeding
- Iron deficiency and anemia
- Pain that continues after passing gas or having a bowel movement
You likely need to change your diet, fitness routines, and lifestyle if you have IBS. Talking to our functional medicine doctor can set you on a better path to overcoming the pain and discomfort of IBS.
3) Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, is a term used to describe conditions in which your digestive tract is inflamed. The two main forms of IBD are ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, which we’ll discuss next. Ulcerative colitis can be a severe disease that causes both inflammation and sores in the lining of your colon and rectum.
With IBD, you typically have diarrhea, rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, and cramping. You may notice blood in your stool. Frequent diarrhea associated with IBD can also lead to fatigue, reduced appetite, and unwanted weight loss. In some cases, IBD can be so serious that it debilitates you or causes life-threatening complications such as the following.
- Colon cancer
- Joint, skin, or eye inflammation
- IBD medications can increase the risk of infections
- Blood clots
- Severe dehydration
- Toxic megacolon (the colon widens and swells)
- Perforated colon
Your functional medicine doctor can help you improve your gut health so as to minimize symptoms and keep you healthier overall.
4) Crohn’s disease
Crohn’s disease can be classified as a form of IBD, but it is somewhat different from other forms of IBD as it is an autoimmune disorder – meaning this issue is caused by your body’s immune system attacking healthy cells in your body. Crohn’s disease causes chronic inflammation that can lead to severe conditions like the following.
- Bowel obstruction
- Anal fistulas (unusual connections in the anal area, inside the colon, or in the abdominal wall
- Anal fissures (tears in the tissues of the anus that lead to infections)
- Strictures (places where the intestine narrows due to inflammation)
The symptoms of Crohn’s disease are the same as for other types of IBD. You may have any of the following signs of Crohn’s disease.
- Frequent diarrhea
- Rectal bleeding
- Urgent need to have a bowel movement
- Cramps and pain in the abdomen
- Feeling like you aren’t emptying your bowel
- Severe constipation
- Pain in eyes or vision changes
- Mouth sores
- Painful joints
- Loss of appetite
- Night sweats
By visiting Dr. Radawi, you can not only find out if you have Crohn’s disease, but you can also get the much-needed relief you’ve been searching to find. We look behind the symptoms to discover the underlying causes of your disease. We provide tools, advice to improve your food choices and lifestyle, and expert functional treatment so that you can have a healthier gut and more fulfilling life.
5) Celiac Disease
Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition that affects the gut. People with celiac disease have a genetic predisposition to it, and the disease affects about 1 in every 100 people around the world. Unfortunately, Celiac disease is often misdiagnosed, and experts estimate that only about 30% of people who have it ever get the right diagnosis.
If you have Celiac disease and eat foods with gluten, such as wheat, rye, or barley, your immune system responds by attacking the small intestine. These attacks damage the small, finger-like projections called the villi, which help you absorb nutrients.
Long-term health problems can result from Celiac disease. These include the following.
- Greater risk of coronary artery disease
- Small bowel cancer
- Type 1 diabetes
- Multiple sclerosis
- Dermatitis herpetiform a
- Infertility and miscarriage
- Heart disease
- Intestinal cancers
You may have heard that anyone with Celiac disease needs to avoid eating bread or other foods with gluten. That is true, but you need to follow that food plan strictly and look at the full picture of your health. Even if you eat a few crumbs of bread that contain gluten, you may have severe symptoms. Additionally, supporting your immune system, managing stress, and improving your general gut health can help you manage celiac disease without taking medications that will only degrade your health and well-being.
What can a functional medicine doctor do about Celiac disease? They do the same as with any other medical condition. They find what is beneath your symptoms and provide a wide range of treatments. These include meal planning, supplements, and lifestyle modifications.
Would you like some tips on how to improve your gut health? Read our blog, How Functional Medicine Can Get Your Gut Health Back on Track for the Holidays.
Functional Medicine in Tennessee for Better Gut Health
Whether you have digestive disorders now or just want to avoid them, functional medicine in Tennessee can help you improve your gut health. Dr. Radawi takes the time to listen to your gut health issues, asks pertinent questions, and performs an examination and labs to identify your problems. Then, he evaluates the information gathered and digs deep to find the underlying causes and create a treatment plan customized to your body and your needs.
Here’s how you can take the first step:
- Watch our free webinar to learn about how we approach gut health issues.
- Schedule a free discovery call to discuss your gut issues, health concerns, and goals to see if our practice is a good fit for you.
- After your discovery call – If we are a good fit, you’ll schedule a consultation with our doctor to dive deeper and formulate an individual treatment plan for you.
Tri-Cities Functional Medicine is located in Johnson City, Tennessee, and serves patients throughout East Tennessee and into Virginia and North Carolina. These areas include but are not limited to: Washington County, TN, Sullivan County, TN, Carter County, TN, Greene County, TN, Knox County, TN, Bristol, TN, Holston Valley, TN, Tri-Cities, TN, Walnut Hill, TN, Elizabethton, TN, Greeneville, TN, Morristown, TN, Blountville, TN, Bluff City, TN, Kingsport, TN, Jonesborough, TN, Colonial Heights, TN, Limestone, TN, Knoxville, TN, Bristol, VA, and Abingdon, VA