With the overwhelming quantity of patient information available online, through various printed sources, on television and radio, and in our public libraries, patients are now, more than ever, able to educate themselves on their ailments before ever meeting with a healthcare professional. Digestive disorders can be difficult to diagnose. A doctor may ask questions about the symptoms you’re experiencing, order medical tests, and eliminate specific disorders before coming to a correct diagnosis.
The table below is meant to aid you in clarifying and understanding your condition and alerting you to a potential diagnosis. Be aware, however, that sometimes patients could end up with more than one diagnosis and could have an illness that does not follow the typical course. This table is by no means comprehensive and is not intended to replace the advice of a physician. Remember it’s important to always tell your doctor all your symptoms, even if you think they are not related to the condition for which you are seeking care. You might want to circle the symptoms you are experiencing on the table and then take it to your physician for discussion.
|Inflammatory Bowel Disease||Irritable Bowel Syndrome||Celiac Disease||Diverticular Disease||Pancreatitis|
|Crohn’s Disease||Ulcerative Colitis||(IBS)||(while eating gluten)||(during flare-up)||Acute||Chronic|
|Growth Slowed||frequent in children||infrequent||–||frequent in children||–||–||–|
|Mucus in/with Stool||infrequent||common||common||–||infrequent||–||–|
|Nutritional Deficiency 1||common||infrequent||–||frequently||–||–||common|
|Pain/Cramps, Abdominal||frequent||common||common||common||frequent||frequent, severe, spreads to back|
|Passing Blood 2||common||frequent||–||–||common||–||–|
|Other Common Symptoms 4||anal & perianal abscess/ulceration||–||–||irritability, skin problems||–||sudden onset of type 2 diabetes||fatty stool|
Notes on the table:
1 Nutritional deficiency can be the result of malabsorption of essential nutrients, such as vitamin B12, calcium, and iron, as they are passing through parts of the digestive tract that are compromised by disease.
2 Occasional passing of bright red blood during a bowel movement is most commonly a result of hemorrhoids or anal fissures, due to straining. It can also be a sign of bleeding in the lower portion of the digestive tract. Very dark, almost black stool could be from bleeding higher up in the digestive tract.
3 Tenesmus is a feeling of incomplete evacuation after a bowel movement and is often associated with pain.
4 Other possible symptoms – these may be outside of the digestive tract.