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Stomach Problems

Stomach Problems

Stomach problems may refer to a wide array of issues associated with the digestive system of the body. This article discusses some common problems of the stomach that affect most people across the world.
Rajib Singha
Last Updated: Apr 23, 2018
Stomach problems are experienced by one and all, at least once in their lifetime. Eating is something that we do the most throughout the day. Adults may remain a bit conscious while eating certain types of foods, but this cannot be expected of kids. More than the health factor, it is the appearance and the taste of the food that matters to them. But not all digestion problems are caused by foods, as there could be other medical conditions responsible for the same.
Common Ailments of the Stomach
Constipation
Everyone is affected by this disease at least once in their lifetime. The main symptom of the condition is having bowel movements lesser than normal. This could be different for different people as everyone has his/her normal bowel habits. Other symptoms could include:
  • Hard stools
  • Feeling of strain during passing stools
  • Feeling of incomplete evacuation even after having a bowel movement
Fortunately, constipation is not a difficult problem to manage. All one needs to do is implement some healthy changes in diet and lifestyle.
  • Patients are recommended to include 20 to 35 grams of fiber each day in their diet
  • Exercising regularly strengthens the digestive system, and improves intestinal function. Something as simple as a daily walk or run does good
  • Drinking plenty of fluid including water does good for overall health
  • It is also important to respond to the urge of having a bowel movement right away, as not doing so also causes, and worsens constipation
If such changes do not help, then the patient might have to take laxatives, stimulants, fiber supplements, lubricants, and stool softener.

Diarrhea
Diarrhea results from an infection of the bowel; causal pathogens could be bacteria, virus or parasite. Common symptoms include:
  • Frequent trips to the bathroom
  • Loose, watery stools; more than 3 times a day
  • Cramps in the abdomen
  • Presence of blood in the stool
  • Headache
  • Low-grade fever
  • Bloated feeling
  • Extremely watery stools
In most cases, patients do not require any medical treatment, as following a few self-care measures help. These might include:
  • As a large amount of water is lost from the body, diarrhea may easily cause dehydration. So to avoid this, drinking lots of fluids is strictly recommended for the affected person
  • Dairy products may worsen diarrhea. So avoid them
Antidiarrhoeal medicines are usually not required unless the condition is keeping the patient from performing his/her daily activities. To manage high fever or pain, pain relievers could also be taken. Antibiotics can only treat diarrhea if it is bacterial or parasitic in nature. But these drugs are only prescribed when the condition is severe and has an identified cause.

Heartburn
Heartburn is triggered by the back flow of the stomach acid into the esophagus. Common symptoms include:
  • A burning sensation that can be felt originating from the chest area and radiating down to the abdomen
  • The burning pain may worsen upon lying down or bending over
Heartburn can be easily managed with a few self-care measures and over-the-counter drugs. The measures include:
  • Identify triggers such as foods which cause the heartburn symptoms. These triggers might be different with different people, but some common ones include fatty foods, chocolate, ginger, garlic, and onion. Alcoholic beverages, and caffeine-based drinks may also cause the same
  • Smoking is another offender in triggering heartburn. Shunning it would not only help treating heartburn, but would keep many other health conditions at bay
  • Eating smaller meals, and maintaining a healthy weight also help
Over-the-counter drugs that help in treating heartburn include ones that interrupt acid production in the stomach, and those which make stomach acid ineffective.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
This one is a serious stomach problem experienced by most. It is characterized by an ongoing inflammation that may occur in part or whole of the digestive system. Ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease are the two forms of IBD. Symptoms of ulcerative colitis
include:
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Cramps in the abdomen
  • Inability to have a bowel movement, despite the urge to do so
  • Abnormal weight loss
  • Dehydration
  • Fatigue
With Crohn's disease, symptoms that occur include:
  • Diarrhea; usually recurring in nature
  • Stool covered in blood and/or mucus
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Ulcers may form deep inside the abdominal walls
IBD has no cure, but treatment methods help reduce severity of the symptoms. The treatment mainly involves use of drugs, and surgery for people who do not respond to drugs. At home, patients may follow certain measures to keep themselves comfortable:
  • Dairy products must be limited, as they tend to worsen IBD in most cases
  • Certain vegetables, fruits or beverages may aggravate the symptoms. So it is important to identify triggers, and avoid them
  • Drinking ample fluids including water, and eating smaller meals also help
  • Although stress does not cause IBD, it may worsen the symptoms. So managing stress is also an important part of the treatment in this case
  • Smoking is a severe trigger for IBD symptoms. Stopping this habit would not only help treat the condition, but would add more to health, as well
Stomach Flu
Also known as viral gastroenteritis, the ailment is basically an infection that affects the stomach. The symptoms that it exhibits are mostly the ones which have already been mentioned above. They include:
  • Pain and cramps in the abdominal region
  • Bloody or non-bloody diarrhea
  • Nausea, which may or may not be accompanied by vomiting
  • Headaches and pain in muscles
  • Fever, but of a low-grade
Antibiotics come of no help in this case, as the causal agent is a virus. In most cases, following some self-care measures at home usually help in dealing with the condition.
  • Dehydration is a common complication of stomach flu. That is why, patients are recommended to drink extra fluids; even between meals. It is recommended to drink fluids in small amounts every 30 - 60 minutes
  • Solid foods must be eaten sparingly, and they include potatoes, bread, lean meats, vegetables, bananas, rice, and plain yogurt
There are several other stomach problems which can affect anyone at any time. Some may be in the form of complications of something else, while some may be mild to severe medical conditions in themselves. Such problems are usually not serious, unless they are detected early and treated too. It is important to pay heed to any abnormal symptoms, and take appropriate measures to deal with them at the earliest.