Is This Hard To Digest?

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.

Common Symptoms:

  • Heartburn
  • Sour taste in mouth
  • Hypersalivation
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Dry cough

Common Treatments:

  • 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
  • Bloating
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea or vomiting

Common Treatments:

  • Proton pump medications
  • Antibiotics
  • Upper endoscopy
  • Surgery

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.

Common Symptoms:

  • Pain in upper abdomen and upper back
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Bloating
  • Indigestion
  • Heartburn
  • Gas

Common Treatments:

  • 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.

Common Symptoms:

  • Cramping
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea

Common Treatments:

  • 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.

Common Symptoms:

  • Pain in lower left side of your stomach
  • Fever and chills
  • Bloating and gas
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Loss of appetite

Common Treatments:

  • Antibiotics
  • Surgery

DIGESTIVE DIFFICULT #6: INFLAMMATORY BOWEL DISEASE

The two most common forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) are Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis.

Common Symptoms:

  • Anemia
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Weight loss

Common Treatments:

  • Prescription of a combination of anti-inflammatories, steroids and immunosuppressants
  • Antibiotics
  • Surgery

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.

Common Symptoms:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation

Common Treatments:

  • 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

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

Common Treatments:

  • Over-the-counter remedies like Milk of Magnesia
  • Laxatives

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.

Resources:
http://health.usnews.com/
www.webmd.com
Image acknowledgement for front page image: Image courtesy of marin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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