Here are five of the most common digestive health ailments…
With lactose intolerance, the symptoms of cramping, bloating, gas, nausea, and diarrhea show up within 30 minutes to two hours after consuming milk or a dairy product containing the milk sugar lactose. A doctor can confirm a diagnosis with a breath or blood test, or a test for stool acidity. Because the intolerance is caused by the lack of the enzyme lactase, it can be replaced by over-the-counter pills in many cases. Otherwise, there are many lactose-free products on the market that can be used by lactose-intolerant people.
Stress does not cause ulcers; it may aggravate ones already there. Ulcers are sores in the lining of the intestines. Causes can be alcohol, smoking, prolonged use of an NSAID like aspirin, or the bacteria Heliobacter pylori commonly called H. pylori. The micro-organisms can eat through the protective layer of mucus in the stomach or upper small intestine. If left untreated, peptic ulcers can cause internal bleeding which shows up as a black tarry substance in the stool; over time if left untreated, it can even eat a hole in the stomach wall or small intestine. This can lead to a serious infection in the abdominal cavity.
Commonly known as heartburn, it is a backup of stomach acid up into the esophagus. In a recent Swedish study, it was found that 6% of the participants experienced reflux daily; 14% weekly. Treatment usually involves drugs like Nexium, Prevacid or Prilosec to reduce the amount of stomach acid. In severe cases, surgeons can tighten the muscle between the stomach and esophagus to prevent acid from leaking upward.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
IBD is a catch-all term for two digestive problems – Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis (UC). People with IBD usually experience abdominal pain and diarrhea, along with anemia, rectal bleeding, and weight loss just to name a few of the symptoms. Both Crohn’s disease and UC develop from an autoimmune disorder that results in ulcers. The difference between the two is with UC the ulcers are usually confined to the lower colon or rectum and are characterized by bleeding and pus. With Crohn’s disease, the ulcer can develop anywhere along the gastrointestinal tract and can lead to infection or blockage, the latter requiring surgery.
Laxatives are a $725 million dollar market in America but don’t be too quick to rush out and buy some just yet. It is easy for the intestines to become dependent on their use thus making it harder to go on your own. Many people are under the assumption they must have a bowel movement every day. That is not true. Regular bowel movements can range anywhere from three times a day to three times per week. How often is not really important as long as your body sticks to some kind of regular schedule.
However, if you have not had a bowel movement in a week, now would be a good time to visit your doctor. Going that long results in hard stools that are difficult to pass and the straining to go can lead to hemorrhoids or anal fissures, neither of which are any fun! Many times a person can get on a regular bowel movement schedule through a program of regular exercise and eating a high fiber diet of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Also, be sure to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. A high fiber diet needs a lot of water to function properly.
While most digestive ailments are uncomfortable, some can be quite dangerous if left untreated. If you are experiencing any of these in this article on a routine basis, see your doctor as they most often can provide some sort of relief.
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