Why We Must Change Our Reaction to Bodily Functions
Advocacy We’ve all been there. You’re in an important meeting, on a date, in a movie theater and, all of a sudden, it strikes: the dreaded gurgle.
It sounds like something is trying to escape your stomach—which is actually kind of true, as it is a sign of movement in your digestive tract. Sometimes the gurgle is all that happens, but other times there’s more to it. It bubbles up into a burp, or bubbles down into gas or a need to move your bowels.
Moving beyond stigma
For many, with or without a digestive condition, this situation can feel embarrassing or create anxiety. Sometimes, the sounds and smells your body is producing feel shameful. It can feel like others are judging you, evidenced through jokes or faces or just laughing at it.
“Symptoms like gas, bloating and pain can signal the need to see a doctor.”
Whether judgment from others is real or perceived, the impact remains the same. Our culture has developed a tone around these digestive functions that often rings negative, like someone is doing something wrong or gross and that it shouldn't even be spoken about.
Cause for concern?
The fact of the matter is, these are (usually) normal bodily functions that every single person experiences every single day. Making noise during a bowel movement, passing gas or any smells are all part of how our bodies function. However, there are some times when your body is trying to tell you something. Symptoms like gas, bloating and pain can signal the need to see a doctor. Too often, patients wait too long to take symptoms seriously.
If you feel like your symptoms are having a severe impact on your life or are getting worse (such as sudden urgency to go to the bathroom, blood in your stool or diarrhea or constipation that won’t go away), make sure you speak up. Don’t be embarrassed to discuss these with your health care professional, who can examine you for signs of a more serious cause and provide options to help.
You can help by joining the #TalkGI conversation on Twitter.