Everyone has gastric problems from time to time like an upset stomach, gas, heartburn, constipation, or diarrhoea. Many digestive problems may be uncomfortable or embarrassing, but they are not serious and don’t last long. Others can be controlled with simple changes in your diet. But sometimes even common digestive symptoms can be signs of a more serious problem. Knowing when you should talk to your doctor can help you take care of your digestive health.
“The stomach is an important organ in the body. It plays a vital role in digestion of foods, releases various enzymes and also protects the lower intestine from harmful organisms”.
Types of gastric health problems and their causes:
Disorders of the stomach are very common and induce a significant amount of rate of disease instances and suffering in the population.
In the stomach, there is a slight balance between acid and the wall lining that is protected by mucus. When this mucous lining is disrupted for whatever reason, signs and symptoms of acidity result. It may result in upper abdominal pain, indigestion, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and heartburn. When the condition is allowed to progress, the pain may become continuous; blood may start to leak and be seen in the stools. When the acidity is uncontrolled, it can even cause severe anemia or lead to the perforation of the stomach. In many individuals, the progressive bleeding from an ulcer mixes with the faeces and presents as black stools.
Constipation is medically defined as less than three stools /week and severe constipation as less than one stool /week. Constipation usually is caused by the slow movement of stool through the colon. There are many causes of constipation including medicines, poor bowel habits, low fibre diets and hormonal disorders.
A peptic ulcer is a defect in the lining of the stomach or the first part of the small intestine, an area called the duodenum. The most common cause of such damage is an infection of the stomach by bacteria called Helicobacter pylori. People who drink too much or smoke cigarettes or chew tobacco or use certain medicines like ibuprofen and aspirin are prone to get inflammations in the stomach.
Lactose intolerance is a common digestive disorder. It means your body can’t digest lactose sugar found in milk products. After eating foods with lactose one may have nausea, bloating, gas or diarrhoea. Lactose intolerance is not a serious problem yet it can be quite uncomfortable. You can easily control it by changing your diet. You may not have to give up milk products entirely.
Some people with lactose intolerance can eat yogurt or cheeses, like cheddar and Swiss without any problem. Lactose-reduced milk is widely available. Taking supplements that contain lactase—the enzyme that breaks down lactose in the intestines—can help you digest dairy foods. You can find lactase supplements at most grocery and drug stores.
Irritable bowel syndrome
IBS is not a disease but a syndrome, meaning groups of symptoms. People with IBS most often have:
• Abdominal Pain
• Diarrhoea-Frequent Loose, Watery Stools.
IBS does not damage the intestines. Instead, it affects the way the digestive tract functions, and so is called a “functional disorder.” Normally, women are more sensitive to irritants in the digestive tract than men. This may help explain why IBS is more common in women. You can often control mild symptoms by making changes to your diet and lifestyle. Fibre supplements or over-the-counter medicines to control diarrhoea may help.
Common digestive complaints such as nausea, vomiting, bloating, gas, heartburn, diarrhoea, and constipation can be temporary. They can be caused by certain types of food or the food contaminated with harmful bacteria. Flu, menstruation and pregnancy may also be the reason behind the upset stomach. But sometimes these symptoms are signs of a more serious digestive disease or other health problems such as colon cancer or ovarian cancer. So one must always refer to the doctor in case he observes:
• Blood during a bowel movement
• Severe abdominal pain
• Unintended weight loss
• Heartburn not relieved by antacids
• Ongoing vomiting or diarrhoea
There are several health issues that are related to our gut. If our gut is suffering so does our body. Untreated stomach issues can lead to weakness, health declination and discomfort. Although most of the problems are treatable with OTC medicines, yet in some cases you need to have expert advice.
To prevent unnecessary stomach issues you need to bring some lifestyle changes such as:
• Eating smaller meals at a time
• Having more number of small meals a day
• Eating more fibre
• Having hygienic food
• Keeping hands and utensils clean
• Following hygienic habits
• Having clean and enough amount water
• Including fruits and veggies in your diet etc.
Myths and facts:
Some common myths are:
Myth: stress cause ulcers
Fact: Helicobector pyroli causes ulcers
Myth: all digestion occur in stomach
Fact: Although the breakdown of most of the food items occurs in the stomach the maximum digestion occurs in the intestine.
The common medicines used to treat the problem of our gastrointestinal systems are:
• Arthrotec etc.
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To diagnose the presence of a stomach problem or a gastrointestinal issue the doctor may prescribe a few tests:
• Blood tests
• Stool sample tests
• Physical examination
• Medical examination
• Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD or upper endoscopy)
• Upper GI is a series of X-rays
• Intestinal biopsy etc.
The treatment option varies according to the type of gastro health problem the person is suffering. The medicines will also be decided once the diagnosis confirms the type of stomach ailment you are suffering.
Here are the common gastro health problems and the common treatment techniques used:
Gastro health issue
Proton pump inhibitors such as Omeprazole (Prilosec), lansoprazole (Prevacid), or Esomeprazole (Nexium)
Bismuth (the main ingredient in Pepto-Bismol) may be added to help kill the bacteria
Irritable bowel syndrome
No cure, but symptoms can be treated by:
Steps to improve health:
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Some gastrointestinal symptoms can be relatively mild, short-lived, and easily treated with over-the-counter medicines. For example, indigestion and acid reflux can be treated with antacids or drugs such as ranitidine and omeprazole. Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome can be treated with mebeverine or hyoscine. You must ask your doctor for advice on which medicines best suit you.
Unfortunately, there are many different gastrointestinal problems, so it is easy to neglect them mistakenly. Some gastrointestinal problems are mild and usually resolve on their own, but some conditions are serious enough that you need to seek medical help to treat them.
There is no real cure for gastroenteritis. In this condition, it is important to prevent dehydration:
As symptoms begin to ease:
Seek immediate medical attention if the condition becomes severe.
Depending on the cause, the symptoms of gastroenteritis may develop within 1 to 3 days after you are infected and can range from mild to severe. In general, symptoms last just a day for two, but occasionally they may last up to two weeks. Call your doctor if the symptoms are not improving or worsening after two days or if you notice blood in your stools.
Acute gastroenteritis-diarrhoea or vomiting (or both) for more than a week may be accompanied by fever, anorexia, and abdominal pain. The gastrointestinal condition accounts for millions of death each year in young children, mostly in developing countries. Prevention is the key to controlling this gastrointestinal disorder. Consult your doctor on the ways to prevent gastroenteritis.
Gatsroeneteritis is the inflammation of the intestines and stomach. It causes diarrhoea, vomiting, fever, and abdominal pain. It may cause mild fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and tiredness in some individuals. These symptoms usually last about two five days and then start to resolve.
Viral gastroenteritis is highly infectious and spreads by the vomit or faeces of an infected person via person-to-person contact. Avoid shaking hands with someone sick as they may have the virus on their hands, contaminated objects, contaminated food or drink.
Gastroenteritis is a viral infection that attacks the digestive system and is commonly called a stomach virus. Food poisoning, however, is strictly based on what you eat. It may happen due to parasites, bacteria, or viruses. But just like viral gastroenteritis, you may experience the same symptoms of diarrhoea, vomiting, cramping, abdominal pain, and fever.