Ever wondered how boring life would be without all the food we enjoy? Well, thanks to the digestive tract we are able to eat the food we love and get nutrition out of it. Hence if our stomach stops working properly it can cause some serious problems with our health.
It’s been days now that my sister was feeling cramps in her stomach. I took her to a certified Gastroenterologist in Islamabad who was an old friend of my cousin. After a thorough check-up, my sister was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
It was something unfamiliar to us. So I asked the doctor to tell us more about digestive disorders, their symptoms, and their effects. This is what I learned:
The term acid reflux loosely refers to the condition where the stomach acid comes to the esophagus. If you experience acid reflux once in a while, that is pretty normal. But if it happens twice a week or more, you might be having GERD or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. It happens when the walls of the lower esophagus are weak and let the stomach acid to leak back up into your esophagus and cause heartburn. Common effects of GERD are bad breath, nausea, tooth erosion, and pain in the chest or upper abdomen. Mild GERD can be treated by simple lifestyle changes, such as watching what you eat and when you eat, eating smaller meals, avoiding trigger foods, quit smoking, etc. But in serious cases where these remedies do not work, the patient might need medication or even surgery.
If you experience recurring abdominal pain at least three times a week and that too over an extended period of time ie. for 3 or months, you might be suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). While the cause of IBS is still unknown, its common symptom is having constipation one day and having diarrhea the other day. It is actually more common than you think. Around 10% – 15% of people worldwide experience IBS. As for the treatment, most of the time lifestyle changes are enough. Eating low-fat foods that are rich in fiber might help. Also avoiding common trigger foods like sugary foods, caffeine, foods that produce gas, and alcohol is important. Research shows that eating foods that are rich in probiotics can also help in the treatment.
Discharge of blood in the toilet bowl when you move your bowels could be a sign of hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids once again is a very common digestive disorder. It is a condition that occurs due to swollen blood vessels in the anal canal. The common causes of hemorrhoids have been found to be pregnancy, chronic constipation, lack of fiber in the diet, diarrhea, and straining during bowel movements. Besides taking prescribed medication, what you can do to avoid hemorrhoids in the future is that you can start taking more fiber and fluids in your diet. In extreme conditions, a hemorrhoidectomy is needed to remove hemorrhoids surgically.
Gallstones refer to the small but hard deposits made by bile in your gallbladder. Our gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped sac attached to our intestine that stores bile. While bile is a digestive secretion. The gallstones essentially block the ducts leading from your gallbladder to your intestines, causing sharp pains in the upper-right abdomen. The common causes of gallstones are high cholesterol levels or waste in our bile, or if our gallbladder does not empty properly. In most cases, patients experience very little to no symptoms and gallstones dissolve on their own. In other cases, medications are required and in extreme conditions, surgery is the next step.
The best cure for common digestive disorders is a high-fiber diet that allows your stool well developed and dense. Also, consume a lot of fluids along with solid food. However, if you experience recurring symptoms of discomfort in your digestive tract, consult a gastroenterologist immediately.
Meta Description: Digestive Disorders like Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Hemorrhoids, and Gallstones form due to the lack of fiber and fluids in your diet. They can be treated by lifestyle changes in most cases but in extreme cases, medication or even surgery is required.