5 signs you may need an endoscopy

12 October 2020

An endoscopy is when a tube with a camera and a light is inserted into your body through your mouth, nose or anus to help identify and diagnose the cause of a variety of symptoms.

Why might you need an endoscopy? Here are five signs to look out for and to discuss with your GP:5 signs you may need an endoscopy

  • Stomach pain – if you are experiencing pain in your abdomen which is unusual or which lasts for more than a few hours, it could be symptomatic of an illness or condition. You should see your GP who may refer you for an endoscopy procedure to diagnose the cause of the problem.
  • Blood in your stools – this may be the sign of several conditions one of which may be bowel cancer. If bowel cancer is diagnosed early, it can be treated. If you notice any blood in your stool or when you wipe yourself after going to the toilet you should see your GP who may suggest one of the endoscopy procedures described earlier in this article.
  • Difficulty swallowing your food – also called dysphagia. This can be caused by a number of conditions ranging from an infection or inflammation, to cancer of the oesophagus. If symptoms persist you should see your GP quickly and he/she may decide an endoscopy is required.
  • Acid reflux/heartburn – we have all suffered heartburn at some point and antacids help, but if you are experiencing heartburn or acid reflux regularly or over a long period of time it may be caused by an underlying condition. Long term acid reflux can also lead to Barrett’s oesophagus, where the abnormal growth of cells causes blockages. If your experience of acid reflux or heartburn is long term it should be discussed with your GP who may refer you for an endoscopy to investigate the cause of the problem.
  • Irregular bowel movements, long term constipation or diarrhoea – sometimes these symptoms can be caused by a change in diet or lifestyle and may settle, but if you experience them for a long period of time they may be signs of something else such as IBS, colon cancer or an underactive thyroid. Speak to your GP who may think it is appropriate for you to have an endoscopic investigation.

Whatever your symptoms, always speak to your GP if you’re worried.