What is your gut feeling?

It is not easy to discuss issues of the stomach. It appears impolite to discuss them in public, this leaves us with many unanswered queries and also suffering in silence. 

The stomach is an important part of the digestive system that connects the oesophagus to the small intestine. It secretes protein digesting enzymes and acids and helps digest the food before sending it to the intestine for further digestion.

Some of the common symptoms of stomach diseases include hyperacidity, indigestion that usually manifests as upper abdominal pain.

The stomach is lined by mucosa which is resistant to the acid secreted by it. When this lining is disrupted due to any cause it can lead to pain, nausea and vomiting. These conditions if left untreated may progress to gastric ulcers, which may bleed periodically.

The initial symptoms include black stools and sometimes vomiting blood. If this condition is not treated promptly the patient may develop anaemia and in some cases perforation of the ulcer, which is a medical emergency.

Gastro paresis which refers to reduced gastric motility is often seen in long standing diabetics, especially if it the blood glucose levels are uncontrolled. Gastro paresis could also be an outcome of an obstruction in the opening between stomach and the intestine. In this condition the food remains in the stomach for a longer period and as a result the patient may experience symptoms like feeling of fullness, bloating, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

Causes of stomach ailments
  • Smoking has been linked to various stomach diseases. Tobacco is known to stimulate excessive acid production that could damage the stomach lining leading to ulcers.
  • Alcohol is also known to cause stomach ailments.
  • Some medicines can cause damage to the stomach lining.
  • Long standing use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, aspirin, etc. can cause damage to the stomach lining.
  • Some narcotics can interfere with emptying of the stomach and cause a feeling of fullness, bloating, eructation, nausea or vomiting.
Treatment of stomach diseases
Medicines can treat most stomach disorders. Change in lifestyle like quitting smoking, limiting alcohol intake and adopting a healthy diet also helps. Despite this if the symptoms persist, one must contact a doctor.

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