ZocdocAnswersWhy do I have constant gastrointestinal problems?

Question

Why do I have constant gastrointestinal problems?

I am a 56 year old woman who had a hysterectomy approximately 12 years ago. I have been experiencing extreme bloating, flatulence, nausea, and constipation, especially after I eat certain foods. I am not currently taking any prescription medicines, but I do take aspirin and alleve. Do I need to be concerned about these symptoms, change my diet, or consult a doctor?

Answer

There are numerous medical causes of this complex of symptoms. Some of these causes are serious and some are not. You should definitely consult your primary care doctor or OB GYN doctor as soon as possible to help you sort this out. Common causes of these symptoms associated with food would include an inflammation of or stones within your gallbladder. Another common cause of symptoms with food is an ulcer or inflammation of the stomach. If you are experiencing fever, chills, yellowing of the skin or eyes, darkening of the urine, or a dark black color or bright red color to the bowel movements then you should seek more urgent medical attention. Irritable bowel syndrome is a benign cause of nausea, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation which is often worsened in times of stress. It is extremely common, especially in women, but it can often be controlled with a variety of lifestyle measures. In women your age, another concerning possibility would be ovarian cancer, which often presents with vague symptoms such as abdominal bloating and nausea. The best first step, obviously, would be to have a thorough physical examination by your primary care doctor to determine what further workup, if any, is needed.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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