What we eat, reflects our health and the food we eat passes through the gut along the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The gastrointestinal tract is referred to as digestive system or gut, which is a group of organs including the mouth, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, small intestine, colon, and rectum.
The gut plays an essential role in sustaining and protecting the overall health of our body. It intakes and absorbs the nutrients and water and also provides the building blocks what the body exactly needs to sustain, to function, and to stay healthy. But what happens when gastrointestinal tract creates problem?
People face gastric problems from time to time like an abdominal pain, bloating, upset stomach, peptic ulcers, acid reflux, and constipation. These problems can be caused by certain types of food or sometimes by contaminated food. Sometimes, flu, menstruation, and pregnancy may also be the reason behind the upset stomach. But, the previously mentioned problems may be the signs of a more serious digestive disease or other health problem including colon or ovarian cancer.
Common disorders of the stomach:
- Gastritis- Gastritis is an inflammation of the lining of the stomach that may occur suddenly or gradually. This condition can be caused by irritation due to excessive alcohol use, stress, or use of certain medications like aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs. Nausea or recurrent upset stomach, abdominal pain and bloating, indigestion, loss of appetite, and black stools are some of the symptoms of gastritis.
- Constipation- Constipation is referred to as a condition in which bowel movements become difficult or less frequent to pass. The normal length of time between bowel movements varies from person to person. This is because some people have bowel movements thrice a day while others have only one or two times a week. If a person doesn’t get any bowel movement until three days, then the stool becomes harder and more difficult to pass.
- Peptic ulcers– Peptic ulcers refer to painful sores or ulcers in the lining of the stomach called the duodenum. The basic cause of this condition is an infection of the stomach by bacteria called Helicobacter pylori. Peptic ulcers often happen to those who smoke too many cigarettes or chew tobacco. Moreover, people who make use of certain medicines like ibuprofen and aspirin are also prone to get inflammations in the stomach.
- Acid reflux- There is a valve at the entrance of the stomach, which is a ring of muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The LES closes as the food passes through it. But, if the LES doesn’t close or open too often, then the acid produced by the stomach move up into the esophagus and causes symptom like heartburn. Furthermore, if acid reflux symptoms happen more than two times a week, then it is said that you have acid reflux disease, which is also known as Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). There are various causes that accounts to this condition. These include being overweight or obese, smoking, being pregnant, certain medications like aspirin and ibuprofen, or snacking close to bedtime.
Diagnosis and treatment:
Your doctor may diagnose you by performing various tests including blood and stool test, physical or medical examination, esophagogastroduodenoscopy, or upper GI, which is a series of x-rays. These examinations totally depend on the type of the condition and after diagnosing the exact condition the doctor starts performing the underlying treatment.
In various cases, change in the lifestyle combined with over-the-counter medications can control the symptoms of stomach disorders. Doctors may prescribe acid reflux medication/s including Antacids like Maalox, Mylanta, Alka-Seltzer, or Riopan, to neutralize the acid from the stomach. These Antacids are regarded as the best medicines for acid reflux. Always remember that the patient should not overdose the use of antacids.
In cases of gastric ulcer or peptic ulcers, the treatment totally depends on the cause. Gastric ulcer treatment includes antibiotic medications, acid blockers, and antacids.
Steps to improve gastro health:
Below are various options for you that will help you in improving your gastro health. These are as follows:
- Add efficient amount of vegetables to your meals
- Try to drink enough water, so as to keep yourself hydrated. Drinking water is very important while exercising or in hot weather.
- Decrease the consumption level of caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea and green tea.
- Improve your intake of fiber (2-3g/day) to ensure you don’t experience bloating, gas or cramping. To increase the fiber intake, you should eat an extra piece of fruit a day like apples, pears, oranges, bananas and berries.
- Add legumes like beans or lentils to your dishes including soup, salads and stir-fries.