Digestive Problems Bellevue, WA
Eating is one of life’s greatest pleasures.It’s a pleasure, a past-time, and for some, an outright obsession. So when that pleasure is marred by the pain and discomfort of a stomach “episode” while you’re on a night out with friends or during an intimate dinner date, it can also be downright embarrassing. Unfortunately, stomach problems also come at the worst possible times – think your daughter’s graduation, your sister’s wedding, etc.
It Starts in the Mouth
The digestive process begins in the mouth. The mouth chews and breaks food down into smaller portions for swallowing. The smaller portions then travel down through the esophagus into the stomach where it is mixed with gastric juices and digestive enzymes. The liver, gallbladder and pancreas also produce juices to help move this process along. From the stomach, some portions move on to our small and large intestines, after which it comes out as waste. This whole process is called digestion.
When stomach problems arise, it is because something within our body interferes with this process.Let’s take a look at some of the most common digestive disorders and see if any of them sound familiar to you.
Common Gastrointestinal Disorders
Reflux is a common digestive problem that is often signaled by heartburn, which feels like a burning pain in your chest. Heartburn may be caused by pregnancy, alcohol, medication, or particular foods.If you’ve ruled out all of these causes and you still experience reflux regularly, you may have what is commonly called as GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease.If GERD is not treated, over time, it can damage the lining of the esophagus or lead to esophageal cancer.Treatment for this type of digestive disorder usually involves taking drugs to reduce acid levels in the stomach.
Diarrhea happens when food in the large intestine moves too quickly or when a virus or bacteria increases the amount of liquid secreted into the food.When this occurs, you may feel a bloating in your belly, cramps and the sudden urge to have a bowel movement. In some cases, mild diarrhea may not need any treatment. In emergencies, over-the-counter medicines such as bismuth and loperamide are available.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
With IBS, you may have diarrhea one day, then constipation the next. Bloating and abdominal cramping are also symptoms of IBS. About ten to fifteen percent of the population suffers from IBS. Women, in general, are more susceptible to this particular stomach issue than men. For treatment, your doctor may recommend a change in diet and shifting to low-fat, high-fiber foods as well as avoiding dairy, caffeine, alcohol and other gas-causing foods. The “helpful bacteria” found in probiotics such as live yogurt may also lessen symptoms of IBS.
Hemorrhoids are a very common condition.This happens when the blood vessels at the end of the gastrointestinal tract become inflamed and is caused by constipation or diarrhea, which could mean a lack of fiber in the diet. A hemorrhoid can be painful, itchy and uncomfortable and may take a few days to treat. Treatment may come in the form of over-the-counter creams for temporary relief.
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
The two most common forms of inflammatory bowel disease are Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. In Crohn’s Disease, the body’s immune system attacks its own gastrointestinal tract.The most common symptoms are diarrhea, abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, weight loss, and fever.Another inflammatory bowel disease is called Ulcerative Colitis. If your symptoms include frequent or urgent bowel movements, blood in your stool, painful diarrhea or abdominal cramps, you may have Ulcerative Colitis. Your doctor may recommend medication and a change in diet to treat this condition. Sometimes, severe cases may require removal of the colon through surgery.
- Celiac Disease
This is an autoimmune digestive disorder that affects about one percent of the population.Those who have this are sensitive to gluten. Symptoms may include chronic diarrhea or constipation, abdominal bloating, stomach pain, vomiting, and pale, foul-smelling, fatty stool.Those suffering from this digestive disorder need to make sure they maintain a gluten-free diet.
Diverticulitis is caused by the presence of abnormal bumps along the wall of the intestinal tract. People who suffer from diverticulitis experience fever, nausea, vomiting and tenderness in the abdomen.Your doctor may recommend antibiotics to help heal your colon, followed by a fiber-rich diet.
Generally, you should see your doctor immediately if you are experiencing the following symptoms: severe abdominal pain, bloody stool, unintentional weight loss, or heartburn that isn’t alleviated by antacids.
In the end, all of these problems may be minimized or eliminated altogether over time and with medication, proper diet and even stress management.
Manage Your Stomach Problems Today!
At the Kirkland Health Institute in Bellevue, WA, we do specific lab tests to diagnose and treat chronic stomach problems. We also conduct neurological tests to determine how the brain may be affecting your digestive system. All these are part of the integrative care and treatment we provide our patients. Our main goal is for you to achieve total wellness so that you get to enjoy a full life! Call us for an appointment today.