Why We Should Normalize Talking About Gut Issues

Hand holding paper cutout of intestines

Almost everyone has suffered from an uncomfortable stomach ache or an urgent trip to the bathroom. While it is normal for people to get digestive disurbances every once in a while, some people live with this pain every day. At 10 years old, I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease. Almost a decade later, and many different doctors, I was finally diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis.

Here’s the thing. Everybody uses the bathroom. We all have these basic bodily functions, and yet there remains a taboo around talking about “bathroom” issues. When I have explained my pain to people, they often get a little bit uncomfortable. In our society, unseen pain is not “real.”  It is uncomfortable for us to talk about things we cannot see. 

People with gastrointestinal problems often feel ashamed of their symptoms. Many of these symptoms we cannot control. Unable to share our feelings or the pain we experience, we struggle to open up when we truly need help.

According to the GI Alliance, twenty million Americans suffer from chronic digestive diseases. With this many people suffering from different gastrointestinal problems, you would think it would be easier to talk about. 

This issue is endemic within society at large, and within the medical community. It is hard to find a doctor who is willing to listen to a patient who says they are having stomach problems. Many times, the symptoms have to reach extreme levels for a doctor to listen or prescribe anything to alleviate the pain. In my case, I had lost almost 20 pounds, could not keep any food down, and was passing blood in my stools. Finally, I was referred to a gastrointestinal doctor. That same day, I was hospitalized by the GI doctor. 

No one chooses to have gut issues. Doctors will write it off as a stomach ache instead of looking into it, because gut issues are still not seen as that serious. It takes a lot of testing and procedures to figure out what is truly going on, and sometimes the doctor is wrong, and then the patient has to go through more testing. Almost all gastrointestinal problems are lifelong and many people don’t find out what is truly going on until late in life.

Many people continue to suffer with gut issues in fear of being judged by doctors or others they know. Normalizing talking about gut issues can help others reach out and get help for their symptoms instead of being ashamed. 


By: Sydney Karlos

Instagram: @sydkarloss

4 comments


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  • Yesenia

    I suffer from diverticulitis and I need an extra strength dairy free probiotic


  • Elle

    So true! I’d like to see a follow up article on how to address this in the workplace? For example, those returning back to office or with a hybrid model – what are things we can say to address it? There’s many with anxiety about eating at work and having an urgent (and embarrassing) bathroom situation!


  • JovanaLj

    Hello, Sydney!
    Thank you for writing this article. I agree absolutely! I know the problem and we need to talk about this things without the shame.


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