Do you have a history of gastrointestinal issues in your family? October is Family History Month, and this is a great time to find out if there are any health conditions that run in your family. Gastrointestinal illnesses are often hereditary, so it’s important to be aware of any potential risks. If you do have a family history of gut problems, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing them yourself.

There are a few different types of gastrointestinal illnesses that are known to be hereditary. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are two of the most common. Crohn’s disease is often passed down in families. Twenty percent of those who have it, have a close relative who also has Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis. If you have a parent or grandparent who has either of these conditions, your risk of developing them is increased. Other less common but still serious gastro illnesses that can be passed down through families include celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease.

Between 25 to 45 million individuals in America suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome. While the cause is unknown, risk factors include being a woman, age, food sensitivities as well as a family history playing a role in IBS. The condition seems to run in families. Some studies have shown that your genes may play a role.

For celiac disease, there is a 1 in 10 chance of getting the celiac disease if a close family member such as a parent, child, brother or sister has it. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that is triggered by eating gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and other grains. It gives bread its chewy texture and makes it elastic. Some symptoms may include bloating, abdominal pain, joint pain, constipation and diarrhea. Consult with your physician if you should be tested or schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist near you.

If you are aware that there is a history of gastrointestinal illness in your family, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk of developing the same problems. First, it’s important to eat a healthy diet and get plenty of exercises. This will help keep your immune system strong and reduce inflammation throughout your body. You should also avoid smoking, as this can increase your risk of developing Crohn’s disease and other gut problems. If you have any concerns about your risk of gastrointestinal illness, be sure to talk to your doctor or make an appointment with a gastroenterologist near you. They can help you make lifestyle changes or recommend medication to reduce your risk.

Gastroenterology Associates of Tidewater has convenient locations near you in Chesapeake and Virginia Beach.

Don’t let a family history of gastrointestinal issues stop you from living your best life! With a few lifestyle changes and some knowledge, you can reduce your risk of developing these problems or manage your symptoms. October is the perfect time to start learning about your family’s health history.

If you have concerns about your digestive health or have questions about managing your digestive issues, make an appointment with one of our board-certified gastroenterologists. Contact us by calling (757) 547-0798.