The gastrointestinal system is a part of the body’s organs that works with digestion, absorption, and excretion. The gastrointestinal system will start from the mouth, pharynx, stomach, intestine, liver, and gall bladder. The pancreas can also be categorized in this system. The diseases that can be commonly found in the gastrointestinal system are as follows.
1st: Gastric Disorder
The symptom is feeling tightness under the xiphoid but above the navel and pain under the left rib cage. Some people might feel stiff in the chest. The symptoms often come and go and relate with the meal. The pain might come before having the meal when feeling hungry or come after the meal when feeling full. These symptoms will get better if taking the food. If the symptoms become more severe, they may include vomiting blood, black stool, loss of appetite, or weight loss. The factors that cause gastric disorders are:
• Helicobacter Pylori Bacteria which can be contracted from eating food or drinking dirty water contaminated with this bacteria, which will cause gastric ulcer and some types of stomach cancer.
• Some painkillers for joint and bone (Aspirin and NSAID), including acne medication that can cause ulcer in the stomach and esophagus until they become more inflamed.
• Smoking or drinking alcohol can increase the rate of having a stomach ulcer, slow down wound healing, or cause it to be chronic more easily. It can also cause a poor response to treatment by medication.
• Stress and eating spicy food or not eating on time
• Infection in the gastrointestinal tract, such as diarrhea or food poisoning
The symptoms of a stomachache that you should see a doctor for immediately are black stool, weight loss, pale, yellow (jaundice), severe pain for hours, continue vomiting severely or vomiting blood, feeling pain or having difficulty swallowing, a family member has gastric disorder history, feeling a lump in the stomach, or enlarged lymph node. If the patient feels pain, bloated stomach, discomfort, or heartburn for not more than 2 weeks, basic self-care can be done, such as taking antacids; abstaining from smoking, alcohol, and spicy food; eating food on time; exercising; and abstaining from taking medication for joint and bone pain unnecessarily. If the symptoms do not improve after following the practices above or the symptoms occur for more than 1 month and there is significant warning signs from the beginning, further diagnosis is needed to check the stomach whether there is a tumor or cancer or not.
2nd: Gastroesophageal Reflux
It is a condition when the acid or the digestive enzyme flows up to the esophagus and causes inflammation in the esophagus. The patient will feel burning around the chest and the xiphoid, which is called heart burn. Sometimes, the pain might go to the neck. The patient may feel a lump in the throat. They may also have difficulty swallowing or feel pain while swallowing as well as a sore throat and sore tongue, especially in the morning. The patient may taste the bitterness of the bile or sourness of the acid in the throat. There will be some phlegm in the throat or feeling of irritation in the throat all the time. The patients will often belch, feel nausea, feel tightness in the chest, like the food is not digested. If the symptom is severe, it can cause chronic hoarseness or morning hoarseness or voice will sound different. It will also cause chronic coughing, feeling of choking at night, often clearing the throat or coughing, difficulty breathing becomes worse, and chest pain, as well as pneumonia will come and go. The risk behaviors for gastroesophageal reflux are drinking alcohol; overweight; smoking; eating sour and spicy food or foods that are preserved, oily, and hard to digest; eating too much food until feeling too full; like to eat chocolate and drink coffee or soft drinks; feeling stress; and like to eat oily food, fried food, onion, garlic, and tomato.
How should you treat the symptoms if they occur?
• Lose weight if you are overweight as it will cause high pressure in the abdomen, which can cause gastroesophageal reflux
• Abstain from smoking as smoking can cause lots of acid and weaken the sphincter
• Wear loose clothes
• Abstain from food for 3 hours before bedtime
• Abstain from oily and fried food; food that contains onion, garlic, tomato, peanut, sweets, butter, and egg; and food that is too spicy, sour, and salty
• Eat until you are full
• Avoid drinking tea, coffee, soft drink, beer, and liquor
• Lie with head elevated about 6-10 inches by bolstering at the legs of the bed. Do not bolster the head with pillows as it will increase the pressure in the abdomen.
• Have small meals
• Should go to bed or lie down after having a meal for at least 3 hours
• Reduce the stress 3rd: Diarrhea
It is the defecation of liquid or watery stool more than 3 times per day, or blood in stool for only 1 time in 24 hours. Normally, diarrhea will improve on its own within 2-3 days without receiving treatment. If it lasts longer, come to see the doctor. Patients with diarrhea will feel bloated in the stomach as well as have stomachache, nausea, vomiting, and frequent excretion. If the diarrhea occurs longer than 3 weeks, it can be called chronic. If it is gone within 3 weeks, it is called acute diarrhea. It often comes from bacteria and viruses. Common causes of diarrhea are:
• Infected with bacteria from unclean food and water, such as Shigella and typhoid fever that comes from Salmonella
• Infected with viruses, such as Rotavirus and Norwalk Virus
• Infected with parasites, such as Giardia Lamblia or Entamoebahistolytica
• Allergic to food and milk
• Medication, such as antihypertensive, antibiotics, and laxative
• Inflammation in the intestines
The initial treatment is drinking water frequently. Drink water that contains minerals or beverages that are fat-free. When the diarrhea lasts longer than 3 days with severe stomachache and fever, come to see the doctor.
4th: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
It is a condition when there is an abnormality in the systole of colon, which causes a stomachache and frequent excretion. The patient will have a stomachache with abnormal excretion. Some people might have constipation, diarrhea, or constipation with diarrhea. The key symptom of irritable bowel syndrome is stomachache or bloated stomach with change in excretion. The stomachache will occur when excretion becomes more frequent or less frequent or when there is constipation or watery diarrhea. The pain will get better when the excretion stops. For diagnosis and treatment, the doctor will assess the problem of each patient. For example: Some patients might have minor symptoms that do not disturb their daily activities but come to see the doctor to be diagnosed or are concerned about having a serious disease. The doctor will provide suggestions or perform the diagnosis to confirm that the patient does not have a serious disease. Medication is not needed with this group of patients. However, if the symptoms become serious and disturb daily activities, medication might be needed to alleviate the excretion.
5th: Hepatitis B
This disease is quite scary as we do not pay much attention to Hepatitis B, which can be contracted from the mother to the baby while giving birth, especially with a mother who does not know that she is infected with Hepatitis B in her body. If the infection occurs to the baby within the first year, there is a high chance of chronic infection. The contraction from the mother to the child is a significant form of infection that occurs in Thailand, including the transmission via sexual relationship, mutual usage of needles, acupuncture, injection or improper piercing on the body with no sterilization, blood transfusion, dialysis, organ transplantation, and contracting from family member by using objects contaminated with blood or secretion, such as razor and nail clipper. When the virus gets into the body, the disease will incubate in the liver and cause acute Hepatitis B. About 30 percent of patients do not have obvious symptoms. Symptoms include low fever, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue, followed by yellow body and eyes. By the time the symptoms become obvious or a lump is found, the patient is mostly in the end stages. Therefore, the best thing is to receive an examination when the risk factors occur. For example: When hepatitis or liver cancer is found in the relatives of the patient. Always take care of physical health. Abstain from alcoholic drinks. Avoid using various chemicals or toxins. Control the weight. Have food that is good for your health. Exercise and have enough rest. At present, there is modern medical equipment, like Fibroscan, to check for cirrhosis, which is suitable for those who regularly drink liquor. The examination is done by using the principle of reflection of sound, which takes about 5 minutes to know the results. In case of chronic Hepatitis B, the process to completely eliminate the virus is difficult, meaning there is less chance to be completely cured. The important objective of the treatment is to reduce the inflammation of the liver to reduce the risk of cirrhosis and liver cancer. Paolo Hospital Phaholyothin Tel : 0-2271-7000