Is it a common bellyache or something more serious? Altitude sickness or appendicitis? Abdominal or gut pain can be a symptom of a variety of issues, especially when you’re at higher altitudes – or have been traveling recently.
Things to Look For to Determine if It’s Time to See a Gastroenterologist
Gastroenterologists focus on the treatment of diseases of the digestive system. This goes well beyond your belly, including a range of organs starting at the mouth and ending at the rectum. Gastroenterologists specialize in the following:
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Celiac disease
- Colon cancer
- Crohn’s disease
- Inflammatory bowel disease
If you’re experiencing abdominal swelling, continual nausea or vomiting, high fever or abdominal pain so severe it prevents you from moving or sitting comfortably, seek immediate medical attention.
Identifying Altitude Sickness
One reason for paying closer attention to your gut health while you’re in the Roaring Fork Valley is altitude. Whether you’re a visitor or long-time local, altitude can play a major role in how you feel, and the symptoms of altitude sickness are often confused with other ailments. Common symptoms include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Shortness of breath
- Fast Heartbeat
- Nasal congestion
Here are some tips for healthy living at altitude. Altitude sickness can be serious, and if you’re concerned you might be suffering from it, it’s important to seek medical attention.
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I’ve ruled out altitude sickness, now what?
Abdominal pain can signal countless acute, chronic and progressive conditions from kidney stones to celiac disease, certain cancers and Crohn’s disease. When evaluating your gut health, make note of the following symptoms that can signify more serious conditions:
- Severe pain
- Persistent fever
- Bloody stools
- Prolonged or unexpected weight loss
- Abdominal tenderness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Changes in your skin
Any of these symptoms warrant a trip to your digestive health specialists who can help diagnose what’s going on using a variety of diagnostic tools and surgical treatments, including:
- EGD (upper endoscopy)
- Laparoscopic anti-reflux surgery
- Surgery of the small and large intestine
- Treatment of diverticulitis
- Small bowel obstruction
- Partial colon removal
- Laparoscopic gallbladder removal
GI Pain Prevention & Healthy Gut Promotion
Taking personal measures to promote gut health is just as important as recognizing symptoms when they arise. Aspen Valley Hospital’s gastrointestinal (GI) specialists work with you to establish important preventive measures to help maintain long-term gut health, including annual colonoscopies for certain age groups and patients at risk. Additionally, it’s important to incorporate probiotics into your diet, drink plenty of water, get a healthy amount of sleep and eat plenty of healthy foods.