5 Most Common Digestive Diseases & What To Do For Relief

    Digestion is crucial for the provision of energy to the body. Any issues with digestion can lead you into a state of low energy and make you more prone to developing different ailments. It is important to identify common digestive diseases and try to get relief from them. 

    5 Most Common Digestive Diseases

    1. GERD

    GERD or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease is probably the most common digestive disorder that affects hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. The prevalence of GERD in North America is found to be almost 28%. The junction of the esophagus (food pipe) and the stomach is guarded by sphincter muscles that prevent the backflow of gastric acid into the esophagus. This ring of the lower esophageal sphincter may become weak resulting in a leakage of stomach acid back into the food pipe. The persistent irritation of the esophagus gives the typical GERD symptoms. The symptoms are more pronounced after meals. 

    Signs And Symptoms of GERD

    • Heartburn – Heartburn is the feeling of burning and pain in the chest that gets worse after meals. The burning pain is accompanied by a bitter taste in the mouth
    • Bad breath – You might also notice a foul smell from your breath. This is because of the acidic regurgitation (acid from your stomach goes into your esophagus and up into the mouth)
    • Pain in the abdomen – You may face discomfort in the abdominal region along with chest pain from heartburn
    • Difficulty breathing and swallowing – Difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia) and breathing isn’t a common occurrence but should be considered as an alarming condition and should be treated immediately

    GERD Risk Factors And Causes 

    According to a study, the risk factors for GERD include obesity, being of a male gender, tobacco usage, alcohol consumption.

    How To Get Relief From GERD?

    The first step in managing GERD is a change of dietary habits and lifestyles. Changes such as avoiding food two hours before bedtime and giving up tobacco consumption and (quitting smoking) can be beneficial.

    A medical intervention involves the use of over-the-counter drugs that work in the following ways:

    • Antacids neutralize the excessive acid secreted by the stomach glands
    • Proton pump inhibitors (PPI) inhibit acid secretion
    • H2 receptor blocker inhibits histamine stimulation and decreases the acid secretion

    As per research, PPIs medicines (such as lansoprazole) are more effective than H2 receptor blockers (ranitidine)

    Taking chamomile tea and using herbal supplements has also been a useful step in managing GERD.

    2.  Peptic Ulcers 

    Peptic ulcers are sores on the mucosa (an inside covering of the stomach) that form inside the stomach and/or the intestines. Based on the location these ulcers are termed gastric ulcers (in the stomach) or duodenal ulcers (in the intestines). Ulcers are the result of a breach of the mucous membrane that can be caused by different factors.

    Causes Of Peptic Ulcers

    Underlying causes that lead to peptic ulcer formation are:

    Signs And Symptoms Of Peptic Ulcers

    • Burning pain in the stomach 
    • Fatty food intolerance 
    • Heartburn 
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Weight loss
    • Anemia (in severe cases where ulcers bleed)

    Relief From Peptic Ulcers 

    Antibiotic therapy is the main treatment modality because H.pylori infection is the major cause of peptic ulcers. In general Clarithromycin, Amoxicillin, and Metronidazole are used.

    The doctor may also prescribe PPIs, H2 receptor blockers, and antacids to protect the mucosa of the stomach. 

    However, according to a review, it was suggested that herbal management is even  better than conventional therapy. 

    3. Gluten Intolerance

    Gluten intolerance is a common digestive malady that affects about 6% of the US population. In gluten intolerance it is the consumption of gluten that leads to temporary symptoms of bloating and abdominal distension. Patients suffering from gluten intolerance may feel abdominal pain after eating meals that have gluten. Gluten is a protein found inside wheat, barley, and bread.

    Causes Of Gluten Intolerance

    There is no known cause of gluten tolerance.

    Signs And Symptoms Of A Gluten Intolerance 

    • Bloating and abdominal pain
    • Diarrhea 
    • Nausea 
    • Constipation 

    Relief From Gluten Intolerance

    There are no possible cures for a gluten intolerance. The only way to stay away from symptoms is to follow a gluten-free diet (GF) for life for relief of symptoms. Different pharma companies and researchers are working to find a solution but there is no treatment so far.

    4. Irritable Bowel Syndrome 

    Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a frequently found disorder characterized by bowel symptoms that affects the large intestine. There are no known causes of IBS and the disease is termed IBS if you feel the symptoms 3 or more times in a month.

    Signs And Symptoms Of IBS

    The signs and symptoms of IBS are:

    • Bloating and abdominal pain and or cramping
    • Impaired bowel movements (constipation, diarrhea or a combination of both)
    • Altered bowel appearance 
    • Abdominal gas

    Relief From IBS

    • Eat homemade food and keep a diary when you get a trigger 
    • Get some physical exercise and practice mindful practices like yoga and meditation
    • Include probiotics  to your daily routine
    • Eat according to a low-Fodmap plan

    According to a study, cognitive behavioral therapy has shown to be efficacious in treating symptoms of IBS.

    5. Chronic constipation 

    This is an evident issue and a common complaint in the United States population as well as around the world. The disease is characterized by an inability to defecate (pass stool). The condition may last for a long time is thus termed chronic constipation.

    Signs And Symptoms Of Chronic Constipation

    • Infrequent bowel (intestine) movements 
    • Bloating 
    • Dry and hard stools 
    • Small stools
    • Pain while passing stools

    Causes Of Constipation 

    Constipation can be the unlikely outcome of a number of conditions including:

    • Dehydration 
    • Having less  fiber in the diet 
    • Stress and anxiety 
    • Medicines (narcotics and antidepressants)
    • Pregnancy 
    • Colon cancer 
    • Eating disorders 

    Relief From Constipation

    1. Drink copious amounts of water (2-4 extra glasses)
    2. Add some veggies and fruits to your diet
    3. Make it a habit of eating cereals and wholegrains (which add fiber)
    4. Incorporate exercises 
    5. Consider laxatives for temporary relief
    6. Use an enema treatment (in extreme cases only)
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