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     Volume 4 Issue 26 | December 24, 2004 |

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The Tummy Wars

Many people live with stomach ailments. Whether the problem is temporary or an everyday thing, knowing what the cause and treatment are can be extremely helpful. Some ailments are easy to recognise while others may require a visit to the doctor for a correct diagnosis. Most are easily treated at home.

Some of the most common ailments include the following:
*Constipation, defined as hard, difficult to pass stools. You may feel as if you still have to go even though you just went. Constipation is usually a result of the lifestyle you lead. Eating the wrong types of foods, drinking too little water, and too little exercise are all to blame. Many times, vitamins and other drugs can cause this condition, too. There are many things you can do at home to remedy constipation. Try to avoid laxatives unless recommended by your physician. You can become dependant on them. Eat more fibre or take a fibre supplement. Fibre adds bulk to your stool, making it easier to pass. Change your diet. Stay away from greasy, high fat foods as well as coffee and alcohol.

*Gas is a natural part of your digestive process. Often caused by the air you swallow, or foods you eat. High fibre foods can create large amounts of gas in some. These foods include beans and some fruits and vegetables. Try an over-the-counter medication if the situation warrants. Otherwise, you can try a cup of hot tea. Peppermint and camomile work well to help relieve gas pains. Or, you can try lying on your back and pulling your legs up towards your chest. The pressure from your legs on your stomach will help to move gas through the digestive tract, making it easier to pass.

*Diarrhoea, defined as loose, watery stools that occur frequently. You may suffer abdominal cramping and pain as well. Diarrhoea can be caused by a number of things. More often than not, it is usually brought on by something you ate. Medications, stress, and food poisonings are also culprits. Diarrhoea can cause dehydration if you are not careful. Be sure to drink plenty of clear fluids to avoid this. Allow your body time to expel whatever was irritating it before you resolve to taking an over the counter medication. Call your doctor, if diarrhoea lasts more than 48 hours.

*Heartburn is caused by acid in the stomach backing up into the oesophagus, causing excruciating pain in some and a taste of bile in the mouth and pains in the stomach, which can be made worse by coffee, citrus fruits, fatty foods, onions, alcohol and chocolate. In some cases, milk can ease the pains. Staying away from food that you know irritates you is important. However, if you have heartburn consistently and find yourself regularly relying on store bought medications, you should see your physician for further treatment.

*Nausea, defined as having a headache with weakness, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, and fatigue. Vomiting may also accompany any of these symptoms. Causes may include food poisoning, ulcers, medications, or a bout of the stomach flu. Pregnancy is another culprit. Seek the advice of your physician if you are pregnant and experiencing nausea. They can recommend the appropriate treatment for your condition. First and foremost, you will need rest. Try to keep hydrated. Don't eat anything if you can't handle it. However, once you are up to it, stick to bland foods, such as toast, rice, and clear soups.

*Reflux oesophagitis, brought on by stomach acid that has moved up to the gullet. This usually feels like heartburn or leaves a taste of bile in the mouth. Reflux oesophagitis can be caused by the opening of the muscle around the top of the stomach, or because the stomach is being pushed due to pregnancy or obesity. Drinking coffee and eating citrus fruits, fatty foods, onions, alcohol and chocolate often makes the condition worse as these encourage the muscle at the top of the stomach to relax.

*Ulcers have similar symptoms and are, therefore, sometimes mistaken for reflux oesophagitis. If symptoms include weight loss and black stools it is important to contact a doctor, who can determine whether or not the condition is caused by an ulcer. In nine out of 10 cases, an ulcer is caused by a bacteria called Helicobacter pylori. This bacteria can be treated with an anti-ulcer medicine and antibiotics, which also reduces the risk of contracting new ulcers.

*Irritable bowel syndrome often appears as a pain that gets worse when eating, and is helped by going to the toilet. An irritated large intestine occurs when there is a change of movement in the intestines. It usually helps to drink a lot of water and go to the toilet regularly.

The danger signs . . .
*Bloody, black or tar-like stools -- all of which suggest bleeding from within the digestive system.
*Nausea, or vomit containing blood, or with an appearance similar to ground coffee.
*Unintentional weight loss.
8Paleness and fatigue due to an unexplained lack of iron.
*Sudden, sharp pains.

If ailments persist, see a doctor and always complete the prescribed treatment.

Source: Mt.essortment.com Netdoctor.co.uk

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