The term "gastric” means “of the stomach”. Diseases affecting the stomach are known as gastric diseases. The initial digestion of the food takes place in the stomach. Moreover, certain micro-organisms ingested along with the food get killed in the stomach, thus reducing the chances of many intestinal infections. Therefore, it is very important to have a basic understanding of gastric disorders. A few common symptoms of the gastric disorder include acid reflux, heartburn, bloating, indigestion/dyspepsia, vomiting, and nausea.
Acid reflux and Heartburn
When acid from the stomach flows backward up into the esophagus(the tube which directs food into the stomach), the disease is known as acid reflux. It gives a feeling of burning sensation in the neck and throat area and is known as heartburn. The term “heartburn” is, therefore, a misleading word and isn't associated with the heart. Sometimes the sour or bitter taste of acid can be felt in the throat.
Occasional heartburn is common but if it starts occurring frequently, probably twice or more than twice a week, it can be associated with a more chronic condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The symptoms include vomiting, coughing, pain in the chest, difficulty swallowing, coughing, and breathlessness. If ignored and left untreated for a longer duration it can lead to esophageal cancer.
Indigestion or Dyspepsia
During indigestion or dyspepsia, one feels uncomfortable fullness during or after a meal. Pain or burning sensation occurs in the epigastric region, an area between the navel and lower end of the chest. Sometimes indigestion may also be accompanied by nausea and bloating (during which the stomach becomes tight).
One should not ignore the initial symptoms of dyspepsia, or else it may convert into a more serious condition like abnormal weight loss or gain, frequent vomiting accompanied by blood, difficult swallowing, severe abdominal pain, black tar-like stool formation, pain in the neck, jaw, and arms, sweating and shortness of breath.
Diagnosis of Indigestion/Dyspepsia
X-rays, stool, blood, and breath tests may be recommended by the doctor to diagnose indigestion. The doctor may also conduct upper endoscopy and biopsy to diagnose the condition of indigestion. During endoscopy, a long but thin tube with a small camera and light on the other end is gently inserted via mouth and esophagus into the stomach. In a biopsy, small pieces of stomach tissue are taken and are examined with the help of a microscope to look for abnormalities.
How to treat infrequent heartburns, indigestion/Dyspepsia?
The initial symptoms of these diseases can be controlled by following a few simple changes in lifestyle:
- Avoid being overweight. One should not eat spicy or oily food, coffee, tomato-based products, chocolates, and peppermint. Alcoholic and carbonated drinks should also be avoided.
- One should stop smoking because the tobacco in the smoke inhibits the production of saliva, which is a very important body buffer. Moreover, tobacco also stimulates the production of stomach acid and relaxes the muscles between the stomach and esophagus, causing acid reflux.
- It is better to eat small meals several times a day than eating bigger meals and overfilling the stomach.
- Practice yoga or other similar therapies to decrease physical as well as emotional stress.
Over-the-counter antacids can provide relief in case of infrequent heartburns and initial symptoms of indigestion. Antacids help to reduce the production of acid in the stomach and help the food to move faster into the small intestine. In case of frequent heartburns or more serious conditions, one should immediately consult a doctor to diagnose a more specific condition and start the medication on time. The dose and duration of the medication should be strictly followed. We have very efficient doctors at Dr. Monga’s clinic, who are among the best in their field.