GI Issues? You’re Not Alone
Your mother may have told you not to discuss your “digestive issues” in polite company; gastrointestinal conversation can quickly veer into unpleasant territory. Consequently, a lot of people suffer in silence with their stomach issues and therefore probably don’t realize just how widespread gastrointestinal problems can be.
But the latest evidence shows that you are far from alone. In fact, a study done in 2009 estimated that as many as 70 million Americans suffer from gastrointestinal issues each year. Spending on GI diseases has been estimated at $143 billion annually in the US. The issues range from stomach pain and reflux to colitis and Crohn’s Disease.
New research released this fall revealed the wide spectrum of issues that people are seeking assistance for. Some numbers from the study, which looked at the last decade:
- Over the last ten years, almost 16 million (15.9 million) people have gone to a clinic because of abdominal pain. That makes abdominal pain the most common GI symptom prompting a clinic visit.
- Acid reflux was the most common GI diagnosis - 8.9 million visits.
- Colorectal cancer accounts for more than half of all GI cancers and is the leading cause of GI-related mortality – more than 52,000 deaths.
- The total cost for outpatient GI endoscopy examinations was $32.4 billion.
So, you can see that GI issues are much more common that you probably thought. And researchers are aggressively searching for solutions for the widespread issues; currently, there are more than 250 clinical trials devoted to GI therapies.
But in the meantime, there are steps you can take that might alleviate some of your milder symptoms, including eating a balanced diet with plenty of protein and the right amount of vegetables.
However, if you suffer from something more serious such as colitis or Crohn’s (or suspect you do), you should talk to your doctor. These are serious conditions and a medical professional can help you find the right diet and medical approach for you.
Crozer-Keystone offers a range of board-certified physicians who are trained in the latest technologies and procedures to comprehensively diagnose, manage and treat gastrointestinal and liver conditions. For more information or to make an appointment, visit http://gi.crozerkeystone.org or call 1-877-CKHS-GI1 (254-7441).