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The Use of the Gastrointestinal Symptoms Rating Scale in Digestive Disease Management

written by: CatNorth • edited by: BStone • updated: 4/20/2011

Discover how the Gastrointestinal Symptoms Rating Scale (GSRS) can benefit you if you suffer with digestive problems. Understand how physicians evaluate rating scale criteria for diagnosis and treatment.

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    The Gastrointestinal Symptoms Rating Scale (GSRS) is used to diagnose the severity of gastrointestinal symptoms and to determine treatment for patients suffering from such symptoms. The GSRS is based on ratings for common gastrointestinal symptoms, including abdominal pain, constipation syndrome, diarrhea syndrome, indigestion syndrome and reflux syndrome, according to a study published in “Quality of Life Research"1. The use of this rating scale for GI symptoms can help health care providers develop an appropriate treatment plan for digestive disease management. The GSRS is also useful in helping to pinpoint related diseases, according to the Meridian Institute3.

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    Digestive Disease

    People are afflicted by many types of digestive disorders and diseases, such as heartburn, ulcerative colitis, peptic ulcers and viral hepatitis, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse website2. The GSRS can help uncover the root causes for discomfort and disease so that health care providers can begin an appropriate treatment program for patients. The rating scale rates symptoms on a scale from zero to three, with zero indicating no symptoms and three signifying severe or continuous symptoms3.

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    Abdominal Pain

    Abdominal pain can have numerous causes, making diagnosis difficult. If you experience abdominal pain, your health care provider can use the GSRS to determine pain severity which can help lead to cause determination. Pain is classified based on a patient’s description of its intensity and location. Associated symptoms are often rated also using the GSRS, such as possible acid-related symptoms, according to the Meridian Institute3. Consideration is given to overall factors, including intensity, duration, frequency, request for relief and affect on social interactions3. Gathering this combined information can help your health care provider match symptoms to possible gastrointestinal conditions or diseases and take appropriate actions for providing relief.

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    Bowel Health

    Modern-day lifestyles, including excessive stress and poor diet, lead to a host of bowel problems for many people. Bowel problems and diseases, such as constipation, irritable bowel syndrome and colorectal cancers, are concerns for many. The Gastrointestinal Symptoms Rating Scale can help diagnose common bowel issues and aid in preventing or detecting serious bowel disease. Factors, such as stool passage and increased flatus, are measured and evaluated. Combined with other GSRS subcategory information including abdominal pain, scoring can help your physician make the best treatment choices. Sometimes more severe bowel issues can indicate excessive stress or bad food, but they can also be a red flag for serious disease, such as colon cancer. If you have continuous or severe bowel problems, don’t ignore them and get checked out by a physician as soon as possible, especially if relatives in your immediate family have had colorectal cancers4.

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    References

    1. PubMed.gov: Reliability and Validity of the Gastrointestinal Symptom Rating Scale in Patients with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9481153
    2. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Digestive Diseases
      http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/a-z.asp
    3. Meridian Institute: Headache Report -- Gastrointestinal Symptom Rating Scale (GSRS)
      http://www.meridianinstitute.com/reports/headache/Appendix%20N.pdf
    4. American Cancer Society: Colon/Rectum Cancer
      http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/ColonandRectumCancer/index