Gastrointestinal (GI) disorders are common in both infants and adults and can present with similar symptoms, making diagnosis challenging. It is crucial for advanced practice nurses to ask the right questions to obtain accurate information for diagnosis. This paper will explore common GI disorders such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), peptic ulcer disease (PUD), and gastritis.
GERD is a chronic condition characterized by the regurgitation of stomach contents into the esophagus, leading to symptoms such as heartburn, chest pain, and vomiting (Gupta et al., 2014). In infants, GERD is often mistaken for simple vomiting due to the spitting up of milk after feeding. However, the key difference is that infants with GERD do not exhibit signs of being unwell and continue to gain weight normally (Gupta et al., 2014).
PUD is another common GI disorder characterized by the formation of open sores or ulcers in the lining of the stomach or duodenum. The main cause of PUD is the overproduction of stomach acid or a breakdown in the protective lining of the stomach (Huether & McCance, 2017). Symptoms of PUD include abdominal pain, bloating, and nausea, which can be intermittent or persistent (Huether & McCance, 2017).
Gastritis refers to inflammation of the stomach lining and can be acute or chronic. Acute gastritis is usually caused by a bacterial or viral infection, excessive use of medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or excessive alcohol consumption (Huether & McCance, 2017). Symptoms of acute gastritis include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. Chronic gastritis, on the other hand, is often caused by Helicobacter pylori infection, autoimmune disorders, or prolonged use of NSAIDs (Huether & McCance, 2017). The symptoms in chronic gastritis are usually milder but can lead to long-term complications such as ulcers.
When evaluating patients with GI symptoms, advanced practice nurses should ask specific questions to gather pertinent information for diagnosis. For instance, in the case study presented, the nurse should inquire about the frequency and timing of the regurgitation episodes. If regurgitation occurs after every feeding, it is likely to be GERD rather than vomiting. Furthermore, the nurse should inquire about other symptoms such as heartburn or chest pain, which are common in GERD.
In the case of PUD, the nurse should ask about the location and severity of the abdominal pain. PUD pain is usually described as a burning or gnawing sensation in the epigastric area, which may radiate to the back or chest (Huether & McCance, 2017). The nurse should also ask about factors that can worsen the pain, such as fasting or eating certain foods.
When evaluating a patient with suspected gastritis, the nurse should ask about the patient’s medication history, including the use of NSAIDs or aspirin. The nurse should also inquire about the patient’s alcohol consumption, as excessive alcohol intake is a known risk factor for gastritis.
In conclusion, GI disorders can present with similar symptoms, making diagnosis challenging. Advanced practice nurses must ask specific questions to gather relevant information for accurate diagnosis. Understanding common GI disorders such as GERD, PUD, and gastritis is crucial in providing appropriate care and treatment. By asking the right questions, nurses can ensure proper diagnosis and management of GI disorders in patients of all ages.