Most of us find it hard to discuss our digestive problems and when we do discuss – it’s either about the stomach or our bowel movements. In short, there’s a rumble in our stomach, we can’t go or we go too often.
Although it may seem like digestive disorders only start from the stomach, it is, in fact, a long process that involves a lot of organs. Digestion begins right from our mouths. The foods we chew and swallow move towards our esophagus, a tube that connects the throat to the stomach.
The acids present in the stomach are responsible for breaking down the food we eat and send them towards the small intestines. There, pancreas and gallbladder break down the food further and nutrients are absorbed while the large intestines absorb water. The waste is thus moved from the body through the rectum and anus.
Digestive problems can occur anywhere along the way.
According to the American Nutrition Association, digestive disorders are placing a “growing burden” on Americans, causing more than 70,000,000 to suffer from some sort of digestive issue every day. Of course, digestion problems that happen frequently should be treated right away in order to avoid any serious complications.
If you are also concerned about your digestive health, here are the 6 common digestive disorders and how you can treat them.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome:
Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS mostly affects women between the ages of 35 and 50. Although, the exact cause of the issue is unknown, most health experts predict that IBS symptoms are often triggered by food.
Symptoms: Abdominal pain, stomach cramping, bloating, and a sudden change in bowel movement are just some of the symptoms of IBS. Additional symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome include fatigue, weakness, and frequent urgency to go to the bathroom.
Treatment: Since it’s not clear what causes IBS, most health experts focus on reducing the symptoms associated with the condition to improve the patient’s quality of life. The main emphasis is kept on changing the dietary habits of the patient such as adding more fiber to the diet and eliminating foods that causes gas and bloating as well as foods that are high in gluten.
Medications such as those that control the bowel movements are also prescribed to those who are going through IBS.
GERD or Gastroesophageal reflux disease occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter relaxes at the wrong time, allowing acid from the stomach to enter the esophagus. The condition known as acid reflux is also caused as a result of hernia, which can occur at any age. Women also experience symptoms of GERD in their pregnancy. Excessive smoking and alcohol, eating heavy meals especially near bedtime, and being overweight can also contribute to the GERD.
Symptoms: Heartburn, dry cough, difficulty swallowing, and regurgitation of food or sour liquid are the main symptoms of GERD.
Treatment: Initial treatment for the symptoms start with over-the-counter antacid medications. Doctors also advise patients to avoid smoking, alcohol, and foods that are high in acid. Maintain a healthy weight and eat small portions.
One of the most common digestive issues – constipation affects more than 4 million people in the United States who claim that they have troubled bowel movements most or all the time. Although, the condition is not serious but having difficult bowel movement is no fun for anyone. Constipation may result from several causes including poor diet, inadequate fluid intake, and poor bowel habits.
Symptoms: Having few bowel movements, passing hard or small stools, and straining during the bowel movement are the main symptoms associated with constipation.
Treatment: Follow the below steps if you feel constipated but make sure to call the doctor if you are constipated for more than 2 weeks, are passing blood in stool, or you have severe pain in the stomach. To ease the bowel movements, make sure you:
- Drink plenty of water
- Add lots of fruits and vegetables to your diet
- Use a mild laxative or over the counter stool softener
Inflammatory Bowel Disease:
Inflammatory bowel disease or IBD is an umbrella term for a number of conditions that cause inflammation in the digestive organs. The two main problems associated with IBD are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. While the Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the digestive organ, the latter is only limited to the large intestine/colon.
Similar to other digestive problems, there is no specific cause for IBD but doctors suspect genetics, environmental factors, and a poor immune system are responsible for the issue.
Symptoms: IBD signs to look out for include: intense pain in the stomach, recurring diarrhea, weight loss and extreme fatigue.
Treatment: The symptoms of IBD are alleviated through anti-inflammatory and immune suppressive medications. Dietary changes are also effective in relieving the symptoms. Moreover, help and support is also available for patients suffering from IBD
Food allergy or intolerance is a medical condition in which exposure to certain food triggers a harmful response. Research estimates that up to 15 million Americans have food allergies, including 5.9 million children under the age of 18.
Some of the major food allergens in the United States include milk, peanuts, fish, soy, wheat, nuts, and shellfish. Allergic reactions from these foods can range from mild to severe and can even cause death, in rare cases.
Symptoms: Food allergy symptoms include rashes, swelling of the face, difficulty in swallowing and breathing, diarrhea, vomiting, and severe fatigue.
Treatment: Unfortunately, if you are not aware of the foods that trigger your immune system, your first treatment is likely to happen in an emergency room. According to stats, one food allergic patient is sent to the ER every three seconds in the United States. The best way to treat food allergy is to avoid the foods that cause allergy and recognize the symptoms associated with the condition.
More than 3 million Americans have celiac disease. The autoimmune disorder is triggered when the individual eats gluten, a protein present in wheat, barley, and other grains. When someone who is gluten-sensitive consumes the protein, their whole body overreacts causing damage to the intestines and inability to absorb the vital nutrients. Eventually, this leads to malnutrition, loss of bone density, infertility, and even neurological problems.
Symptoms: Diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, anemia, and weight loss are some of the symptoms linked with the Celiac disease.
Treatment: The only treatment for the common digestive disorder is to follow a strict gluten-free diet. Since there are no medicines that improve the symptoms, one must avoid all types of baked goods, pasta, beer, cereals, and even toothpaste and medications that contain gluten.
Digestive problems are very common and we all have to endure them at some point in our lives. Knowing how to deal with them can increase your chances of finding relief quickly and effectively.
ABOUT Erica Silva
Erica Silva is a blogger by choice. She loves to discover the world around her. She likes to share her discoveries, experiences and express herself through her blogs. Currently, she is associated with DementiaTalk Team.
Find her on Twitter:@ericadsilva1