You’re out on a date at a fine dining establishment when suddenly it hits you. Your chest burns, your stomach gurgles, your abdomen cramps up, and you find yourself scanning the venue for the nearest available washroom and plotting your escape route.
If you are one of the millions of people who suffer from some form of digestive disorder, this is a harsh reality you must face on a daily basis.
However, not all digestive disorders are created equally, with varying symptoms, causes, and treatments among them. Here are three of the more common tummy troubles out there.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
If you’ve been diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS as it’s known, you are all too familiar with the abdominal cramping, bloating, and diarrhea that comes long with the disorder. IBS plays no favourites and can wreak havoc on a meticulously planned picnic at the park or an impromptu family get-together.
With an estimated 10 to 15 percent of the world’s population caught in the clutches of IBS, the disorder is one of the most prevalent and has a variety of wildly different symptoms. In addition to bloating, you might suffer from constipation or diarrhea, and your bathroom business can range from hard, dry stool to loose, runny stool in the span of only a day or two.
Although the causes of IBS are not yet known, treatment for the condition revolves around your diet, which should consist of eating low-fat, high-fiber meals and avoiding foods that trigger your IBS symptoms. Another effective solution is found in the form of friendly bacteria that lives in the large intestines and aids the human immune system. Once you find the best probiotic for IBS, you may start feeling better.
You may have heard quite a bit about gluten in recent years thanks to celiac disease, an extreme sensitivity to the pesky protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. Once gluten is consumed, your immune system embarks on a seek and destroy mission and damages your villi, protrusions in your small intestines which normally aid absorption of nutrients from the food you eat.
Although 1 in 133 Americans are thought to suffer from celiac disease, a whopping 83 percent of them likely don’t know they have it or have received a misdiagnosis. The disease can strike children or adults with symptoms including abdominal pain and bloating, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, weight loss, anemia, fatigue, bone loss, depression, and seizures.
Alternatively, some people may not have any symptoms at all. The only way to treat celiac disease is to refrain from eating any foods that contain gluten, so you must be vigilant and proactive when it comes time to go to the grocery store.
Gastroesophageal Reflex Disease
Remember those chest pains mentioned in the opening paragraph? That’s GERD, as the disorder is known, a chronic digestive disease that is estimated to inflict 20 percent of Americans. Characterized by a burning sensation in the middle of your chest, acid reflux occurs when stomach acid backs up into your esophagus, usually after a meal or in the middle of the night.
If it only happens occasionally, you don’t have much to worry about. However, when these symptoms occur on a regular basis (at least twice a week) you may be suffering from GERD. In addition to persistent heartburn, other symptoms include bad breath, tooth erosion, nausea, chest or upper abdominal pain, and difficulties swallowing or breathing.
To avoid the scourge of GERD, you should refrain from consuming foods and beverages that trigger the condition. Over-the-counter antacids or other medications that cut down the production of stomach acid and esophagus inflammation may provide relief, but surgery may be required in more severe cases.