Gas, bloating to uncomfortable heartburn, these digestive problems are troublesome, especially for those who appear to suffer from them often. Such problems may arise due to infection, bacteria in food, stress, specific medications, or chronic medical conditions such as Crohn’s diseases, IBS and colitis, etc. The good news is all of these conditions can be managed. All you need to do is book an appointment with one of the best gastroenterology specialist in Hyderabad or elsewhere to have your condition diagnosed and treated. Let us understand first, how the digestive system works:
How does the digestive system work?
For a layman, digestion occurs only in the stomach. However, it’s a long process involving several organs, all of which together form the digestive tract. Digestion begins in the mouth where food is broken down and swallowed. The swallowed food is pushed through the oesophagus down to a valve at its bottom. This valve opens into the stomach where the food is further broken down with stomach acids. Digestive juices from organs such as the gallbladder and pancreas break down the food even more. The residue goes through the large intestine where water is absorbed and the waste moves out of the body via the rectum and anus. Digestive problems may occur anywhere along this entire process.
Below-mentioned are the most common digestive problems and ways to manage them:
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Heartburn may affect anyone occasionally. However, if it’s more common, it’s time to get checked for GERD. The condition can be diagnosed by a medical practitioner on the basis of symptoms alone but if the problem has been existing for quite some time, additional diagnosis may be required to evaluate if the disease has caused any damage to the oesophagus.
Although GERD mostly reflects in the form of heartburn, it can erode the lining of oesophagus and lead to bleeding when left uncontrolled. It may also cause chest pain which is sometimes mistaken as a heart attack.
Simple lifestyle modifications such as having the last meal, two hours before bedtime may help control the symptoms. There are also over-the-counter such as antacids and H2 blockers that may offer short-term relief for occasional heartburn. For a more serious GERD, prescriptions medications or even surgery might be required.
- Gas and Bloating
Gas and bloating are both uncomfortable and embarrassing. Gas is considered to be a normal part of healthy digestion and is nothing but the air that is trapped in your digestive tract. It is released either through the mouth in the form of burn or via the anus as gas. Gas formation is due to the swallowing of air while eating and drinking. It is also a by-product of food breakdown. Certain foods such as beans, apples, cabbage, cauliflower, wheat, milk, and dairy products, etc. cause more gas than others.
Bloating, on the other hand, is the build-up of gas in the stomach and intestines that makes the belly swell and gives you a feeling of fullness. Bloating is more prominent in those with a stomach infection, irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, hormonal changes, and constipation.
Diet and lifestyle changes can make a huge difference to those suffering from gas and bloating. This includes cutting back on fatty foods, eating and drinking slowly, avoiding fizzy drinks, quitting smoking, exercising more, avoiding foods that cause gas, avoiding sweeteners such as sorbitol and fructose, etc. There are also over-the-counter medications such as lactase supplements, probiotics, and alpha-galactosidase, etc. to manage the problem.
The number of bowel movements a person experiences in a day may vary from person to person. So what’s considered normal for one may be abnormal for another. If you feel strained while going to the bathroom, the probability is that you are constipated. You may also experience hard stools or feel that the bowel movement isn’t complete. While occasional constipation is still common, it’s time to see a doctor if you have less than three bowel movements in a week.
Not drinking enough water, having a low-fiber diet, getting too little exercise, pregnancy, blockages in the large intestine, taking too many laxatives are some of the reasons for constipation.
Constipation may be avoided and treated with a few lifestyle modifications such as drinking plenty of water, consuming prunes or bran cereal, eating more veggies and fruits, drinking warm water or herbal tea in the morning, and exercising often. If lifestyle modifications don’t work, you may take the help of over-the-counter medications. Make sure to not continue the treatment for more than 2 weeks as that may worsen your symptoms and indicate something more serious.
For the best possible treatment, it is advised to book an appointment at one of the top gastroenterology hospitals in India such as CARE Hospitals which is equipped with world-class staff and state-of-the-art technology.