Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Why do I have chronic diarrhea and stomach pain?"
I'm an 18 year old man who has been suffering from chronic diarrhea and stomach pain. I have been using the bathroom ten or more times per day. The pain feels like cramps that will not go away. I also experience nausea and vomiting after I eat. Because of this I have lost a significant amount of weight in the last few months. I'm not taking any medications.
Your symptoms are concerning and you should seek initial evaluation from your primary care physician as soon as possible. The list of possible causes of your symptoms is long and broad, and may include a malabsorption syndrome caused by inflammatory bowel disease or a chronic infection. Significant weight loss is a common red flag symptom that helps health care providers identify a potentially serious condition. Your primary care physician can start your work-up by getting a more thorough history, such as the presence of any food triggers (dairy products, gluten-containing products) for your symptoms, the presence of blood in the stool, the duration of symptoms, family history of gastrointestinal disease, etc. Basic bloodwork can be obtained to test for anemia, electrolyte disturbances, and the possibility of celiac disease. Stool studies can help rule out occult infection, blood loss and fat malabsorption. Additionally, you should expect referral to a gastroenterologist if the cause of your problems is unclear. This specialist can perform additional studies such as an endoscopy and colonoscopy to view the lining of the stomach and intestines and to take biopsies, if needed, to help determine the cause of your symptoms.
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