David Bilstrom

David Bilstom

If uncomfortable digestive symptoms like heartburn are disrupting your daily activities (or are just a pain in the you-know-what), read on to find out what they may indicate and how you can find relief. Learn how to trust your gut and how to decipher the messages your body is sending.

Last week, in part III of our “Keeping Your Gut in Check” series, we discussed the troublesome stomach issues of heartburn. This week, in our final series on stomach issues, David J. Bilstrom, MD — director of the Bingham Memorial International Autoimmune Institute & Center for Functional Medicine — provides a general guide as to what diarrhea and unknown symptoms might mean and which demand a prompt visit with your doctor.

Symptom: Diarrhea

What is it? Loose stools that are often accompanied by gas and bloating.

What it could mean: Diarrhea is frequently associated with stomach viruses or bacterial infections. Food intolerances, certain medications, intestinal diseases, and parasites can also cause diarrhea. Certain foods and drinks such as alcohol, caffeine, and dairy products, and even stress, produce diarrhea in some people.

“On the more serious side, inflammatory bowel disease, colon cancer, or an intestinal blockage can trigger diarrhea and demand the immediate attention of your doctor or an emergency room physician,” Dr. Bilstrom says.

What you should do: It’s normal to experience diarrhea occasionally, but if you have loose bowel movements for longer than two days, or if you have pain, fever, or blood in your stool, don’t wait to call your doctor. Extended diarrhea can cause you to lose more fluids than you’re consuming. Ensure you’re drinking enough clear fluids to stay hydrated.

Call your doctor: “If you’ve been experiencing diarrhea for more than a couple of days,” says Dr. Bilstrom, “it’s time to seek help.”

Symptoms: Unknown

Often times the gut may be dysfunctional when specific “gut symptoms” don’t exist. In other words, symptoms of a dysfunctional gut may show up as an immune system dysfunction, a hormone imbalance, or even a low attention span in a child, which could in turn be diagnosed as ADD, says Dr. Bilstrom. “Also, if the gut isn’t functioning properly, this could affect someone’s memory and their concentration may not be what it used to. Again, our guts are considered a second brain, and now I’m sure you can understand why.”

What can be done? There are some great tests that have been developed in the past few years that can really help to pin-point what exactly is happening with someone’s good and bad bacteria. These tests also look at nutrient absorption, inflammation, and many, many other things. There are simple, advanced, life-changing tests and treatments now accessible to everyone.

Gut Check

David Bilstrom is quadruple board certified in Functional and Regenerative Medicine, Integrative Medicine, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and Medical Acupuncture.

He sees patients in Blackfoot. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call (208) 782-2444.

Office Location

Bingham Specialty Plaza

326 Poplar Street

Blackfoot, ID

P: (208) 782-2444


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