Illnesses that can hide behind poor digestion

  • We spoke with Dr. Diego Sánchez, specialist in the digestive system

  • He explains to us how something innocent a priori like poor digestion can be a harbinger of other things.

  • Especially in summer it is good not to exceed the quantities repeatedly with meals

It’s hot, we’re on vacation, and binges are part of summer, but if indigestion is a recurring thing or you’ve never had it and you’re starting now, your digestive system may trying to tell you something. We spoke with Diego Sánchez, a specialist in the digestive system, to clarify what other diseases can manifest.

Let’s start at the beginning: symptoms of poor digestion?

Abdominal pain, bloating, gas, flatulence or altered bowel habits, among others.

These disorders have their origin in problems such as celiac disease or certain food intolerances, although they can also result in infections and, if they are more persistent and are accompanied by other “alarm” symptoms , they can be secondary to more serious illnesses. Stress is another factor strongly associated with dyspepsia.

Do we tend to ignore or trivialize, in general, the signals that the body sends us?

In general, yes, because having poor digestion is relatively common. We have all experienced, on many occasions after a heavy meal or excessive overindulgence, having dyspeptic symptoms. It begins to be relevant when it is maintained over time. However, it is important to be vigilant, as it can sometimes be a red flag about the existence of an eating disorder or associated illness.

What diseases or disorders can be linked to a digestive problem?

In general, diet and stress are the main causes of these problems. Thus, in situations of food intolerance, fundamentally to complex sugars such as lactose, fructose or sorbitol, or in the presence of complex diseases such as celiac disease, the presence of symptoms of dyspepsia is the norm. Food allergies must also be taken into account, which often manifest themselves exclusively through digestive symptoms. On the other hand, stress, both acute and in the context of mood disorders, such as anxiety or depressive syndromes, is one of the main causes of these symptoms. It should be remembered that infections such as Helicobacter pylori or parasites, the presence of bacterial overgrowth and even, on many occasions, the antibiotic treatment itself, can trigger these symptoms. Hormonal factors also influence the quality and intensity of digestive symptoms.

Are there more and more celiacs?

Celiac disease is a disease that affects approximately 1% of the world’s population. However, the vast majority of patients are not diagnosed, either because they do not have very flourishing symptoms or because they are classified in other different pathologies. Thus, it is important to rule out celiac disease in any patient who presents to the clinic with dyspeptic symptoms, particularly if they have a family history of celiac disease or another risk factor. However, it is important to make a targeted diagnosis, because sometimes the tests are negative, and, nevertheless, the patient has a celiac base.

What is the protocol to follow in the event of a serious or chronic diagnosis related to digestion

There is a subgroup of patients in whom, with symptoms that at first glance might seem insignificant, a significant health problem is discovered. These problems are often detected when taking the medical history itself, in which the patient tells us a symptom that we call “alarm”, such as weight loss, bleeding, anemia, abdominal mass, etc. On other occasions, the diagnosis is accompanied by the performance of a complementary test. In general, the most important thing is early and adequate detection of the problem, so there should be no doubt or shame in consulting for symptoms of dyspepsia, although the patient may find them insignificant.

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