It's estimated that 50% of Australians experience gut health problems. For 1 in 7 these problems are so serious that their experience is distressing. In other words, many of us struggle with gut-related symptoms.
It probably doesn’t help that gut distress isn’t something we talk about freely. If you have a headache, there’s no shame in mentioning it, but if you suffer from flatulence it’s socially expected that you keep it as quiet as you can.
Want to know more? Read our comprehensive Gut Health guide!
So, what are some symptoms of poor gut health?
If you experience any of these symptoms regularly and over time, it’s worth seeing your GP to get it checked out. If the pains are severe, or you experience bleeding or vomiting in combination with these pains, you should go to the emergency department of the nearest hospital immediately.
Please note that these symptoms are only indications and not meant for diagnosis. If you are worried about intestinal issues, go see your GP.
Bloating is a buildup of gas in the stomach and intestines that can cause pain, discomfort or a feeling of being too full. Everybody feels bloated at some point but if it happens regularly, it may be a sign of poor gut health.
People who experience heartburn describe it as burning feeling behind the breastbone that rises towards the throat. It’s a very common digestive symptom and most people experience heartburn from time to time. If, however, it is bothering you often, it may also be a sign of poor gut health.
Stomachache or abdominal pain is discomfort that is felt in the area between the base of your ribs and the pelvis. It can be a sharp, dull, stabbing or cramp-like pain that is constant or comes and goes in waves.
Abdominal pains are notoriously difficult to pinpoint but if the pain spreads to shoulders, arms and neck, you should immediately go to the hospital, as it may be a sign of a more serious condition than poor gut health.
It can be hard to gauge what is considered excessive when it comes to flatulence. It’s normal to pass wind but when the symptoms become bothersome, like passing wind often, or when passing wind is loud, very smelly, or cause discomfort, it may be a symptom of poor gut health.
Just like flatulence, burping is both natural and common. Burping is your body’s way to get rid of excess air in the upper digestive tract. It is when the burping gets in the way of daily activities – or frankly causes you embarrassment – that it may be a sign of an unbalanced gut.
A vocal stomach may just be a healthy sign that your tummy is telling you it’s time to eat. If it happens more often than that or the growling is accompanied by other symptoms on this list, it may be a reason to start looking after your gut.
Constipation or diarrhoea
Again, constipation and diarrhoea are symptoms that most people experience from time to time. It is when these symptoms are more or less regular than normal you should think about sorting out your gut health.
Constipation can be caused by more serious illnesses and events so if you feel constipated over time it’s best to see your GP.
Nausea can be caused by a wide range of conditions, such as motion sickness, early stages of pregnancy, food poisoning, overeating or something as simple as a reaction to a smell or odour. When it comes to gut health, nausea is more commonly experienced in combination with one or more of the other symptoms on this list.