by Lauren Gajda November 6, 2015
Talking about your body’s plumbing may be difficult for some people. You don’t exactly go out for dinner with girlfriends and want to talk about how you haven’t gone to bathroom in four days. And listening to someone talk about their plumping is not easy to digest either. The problem with not talking about the plumbing problems is that they don’t get resolved and, in some cases, they just get worse.
Now, we’re not saying you have to talk with your girlfriends about your digestive difficulties over a glass of wine, but talking with your doctor should be a priority. There are so many digestive conditions out there, so for November, we’re turning the focus on dealing with digestive difficulties. What are the most common issues and how can you put an end to them? We’re starting here with a simple article of the eight most common ones.
DIGESTIVE DIFFICULT #1: REFLUX OR GERD
In a recent study, it was reported that 6 percent of people reported experience reflux symptoms daily, and 14 percent experience symptoms at least weekly. Now you know why we consider this one of the most common digestive difficulties.
When symptoms are frequent, it may indicate that a person has GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease). GERD can be painful because it’s basically when the stomach’s content come back up into the esophagus.
- Sour taste in mouth
- Trouble swallowing
- Dry cough
- Drugs that reduce acid levels, such as Aciphex, Nexium, Prevacid, Prilosec and Protonix
- Drugs that reduce H2 blockers, such as Axid, Pepcid, Tagamet and Zantac
In severe cases of GERD, surgeons have the ability to tighten a loose muscle between the stomach and the esophagus. At North Florida Regional Medical Center, we can do this surgery laparoscopically.
DIGESTIVE DIFFICULT #2: PEPTIC ULCERS
Did you know that 25 million Americans will get a peptic ulcer at some point in their lives? Peptic ulcers are sores in the lining of the stomach or first stretch of the small intestine. Some causes of peptic ulcers include smoking and alcohol use. If left untreated, peptic ulcers can be very dangerous and lead to serious infection.Common Symptoms:
- Burning pain in the middle or upper stomach between meals or at night
- Nausea or vomiting
- Proton pump medications
- Upper endoscopy
DIGESTIVE DIFFICULT #3: GALLSTONES
Each year, nearly 1 million Americans are diagnosed with gallstones, which are little pebbles primarily made up of cholesterol and bile salts. Getting rid of them usually requires having your gallbladder removed, which is one of the most common US surgeries.
- Pain in upper abdomen and upper back
- Surgery to remove the gallbladder
DIGESTIVE DIFFICULT #4: LACTOSE INTOLERANCE
Between 30 million and 50 million Americans are lactose intolerant. That means they lack an enzyme needed to digest the main sugar in milk.
- Over-the-counter pills to replace lactase in your body
DIGESTIVE DIFFICULT #5: DIVERTICULITIS
While it’s been reported that 3 in 5 Americans who are 70 years of age or older have abnormal bulges called diverticula somewhere in the walls of their colon, only 20 percent will experience inflammation or infection in those bulges. Those complications are called diverticulitis.
- Pain in lower left side of your stomach
- Fever and chills
- Bloating and gas
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Nausea or vomiting
- Loss of appetite
DIGESTIVE DIFFICULT #6: INFLAMMATORY BOWEL DISEASE
The two most common forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) are Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis.
- Rectal bleeding
- Weight loss
- Prescription of a combination of anti-inflammatories, steroids and immunosuppressants
Both Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis typically arise from a deficiency in one’s immune system that leads to the body’s attach of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
DIGESTIVE DIFFICULT #7: CELIAC DISEASE
Only about 1 percent of the US population has celiac disease, which is an autoimmune and digestive disorder that triggers an attack on one’s small intestine when gluten is introduced to the diet.
- Abdominal pain
- Chronic diarrhea
- There is no cure for celiac disease, but most people manage it with a gluten-free diet.
DIGESTIVE DIFFICULT #8: CONSTIPATION
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Just because you fail to have a bowel movement, does not necessarily mean you are constipated. People think they have to have a bowel movement every day, but the truth is, anywhere between three times a day and three times a week is normal.Common Symptoms:
- Stomach discomfort
- Have not had a bowel movement in days
- Over-the-counter remedies like Milk of Magnesia
Constipation is best avoided through regular exercise, a diet high in fiber and hydration. It’s best to see a doctor if you have not had a bowel movement in a week because constipation can lead to more serious issues, such as hemorrhoids or anal fissure.
While this may seem like a lot of information, this is just a brief overview. We will have so much more information to share with you throughout the month. Stay tuned.
Image acknowledgement for front page image: Image courtesy of marin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net