The following is a list of the common presenting symptoms that might occur in patients with disorders of the gastrointestinal tract and in particular the colon, rectum and anus:

Change in bowel habit - diarrhoea or constipation
Rectal bleeding - fresh or dark
Abdominal pain - acute or chronic
Anal discharge - mucus or pus
Anal pain or irritation
Weight loss
Loss of appetite
Nausea or vomiting
Prolapse of a lump from the anus
Involuntary leakage of wind or faeces from the back passage (incontinence)

Remember

1. Some patients may have these symptoms in combination. There may also be a family history of bowel problems for example bowel cancer.
2. These types of symptoms should be assessed so as to make a diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment.
3. One should not be too embarrassed to seek an opinion for what might appear to be a trivial symptom.
4. It is only by seeing a specialist and then having the relevant investigations that more serious diseases can be excluded.


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