DH: Seeing Your Doctor for Diarrhea or Constipation

Seeing Your Doctor for Diarrhea or Constipation

The Goodpath program can help most members with uncomplicated gastrointestinal (GI) problems.  If your symptoms don’t improve after participating in our program, we recommend that you make an appointment with your doctor so they can evaluate your symptoms.

What To Expect

You may be returning to your doctor or seeing them for the first time for your GI symptoms. Either way, they’ll ask you about your symptoms, medical history, treatment, etc. 

They’ll examine you and then determine the next steps - usually laboratory tests and, possibly, imaging and referral to a  GI specialist (gastroenterologist).

Your doctor may order a number of different diagnostic tests. The most common ones include the following:

Blood tests

  • Complete blood count (CBC). A general test that checks you for anemia or low red blood cells, inflammation, and infection.

  • Comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) or chemistry panel. Another general test of your overall health. It checks for dehydration (loss of body fluids) and abnormal electrolytes (chemical imbalances) related to diarrhea.

  • Celiac disease testing. A specific blood test for celiac disease (celiac sprue) that looks at the immune system’s response to gluten in the diet. Gluten is the protein in wheat, rye, and barley.

  • Thyroid testing. The blood level of hormones produced by the thyroid gland. Diarrhea and constipation may be related to too little or too much of the hormones. 

  • Inflammatory markers. Tests for the presence of inflammation in the body.

Stool Tests

There are a number of different tests that check a sample of your stool. They include tests for:

  • Intestinal parasites. An infection from ingesting food or water with parasites that affect the GI tract.

  • H. pylori. A bacterial infection that affects the stomach lining. Symptoms may be belly (abdominal) pain, bloating, and GI bleeding.

  • C. difficile or C. diff. A bacterial infection that can lead to inflammation of the large intestine (colon).

  • Inflammatory markers. Related to inflammation of the GI tract.

Scoping and Imaging

Endoscopy (scoping the upper GI tract), colonoscopy (scoping the rectum and colon), and other imaging studies may be recommended based on your clinical presentation or based on your blood or stool results.

If you have any questions, contact your Goodpath coach.