Was it something you ate? Dr. Melvin Look, General Surgeon at PanAsia Surgery Group who specialises in gastrointestinal disorders, helps you deal with these common digestive concerns.
Bloating isn’t just something that happens to women during that time of the month.
“Bloating can be caused by overeating, or by eating foods that are rich or very fatty,” explains Dr. Look.
In addition, eating too quickly can cause you to bloat and feel uncomfortable.
Sometimes, it can be severe enough to cause a swollen abdomen. Thankfully, bloating is rarely a sign of serious illnesses and can be easily treated.
How to deal: “The easiest way to beat bloating is to control your food portions, ease up on fatty foods and chew slowly to give your body time to process the food intake,”
If you’re prone to stomach cramps or even vomiting after a dose of creamy ice cream, chances are, you’re suffering from lactose intolerance.
What does that mean exactly? “Your body is unable to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk or milk-based products,” Dr. Look explains.
Lactose intolerance can also develop as you age, as your body loses lactase, an essential enzyme for the digestion of lactose.
How to deal: “Monitor your dairy intake to see which types of milk-based food products trigger your symptoms,” says Dr. Look.
A common digestive problem, constipation can make it difficult to have bowel movements or can result in irregular bowl movements.
This can be cause by eating too little fibre, leading a sedentary lifestyle or changing up your daily routine.
Constipation is also a known side-effect for certain antacids or anti-depressants and “may lead to straining at hard stools, which may predispose people to hemorrhoids and anal fissues,” warns Dr. Look.
How to deal: “Combat constipation by increasing your daily intake of fruits and vegetables. Getting adequate hydration is important, too,” notes Dr. Look.
Medicating with laxatives isn’t recommended as a long-term solution, as this can make you become dependent on artificial stimulation for relief. Plus, you should review any prescription medication you are taking “to see if it may cause gastrointestinal side effects.”
Do you experience abdominal pain, bloating or diarrhea after consuming foods that contain gluten?
In this genetic disorder, gluten triggers an abnormal immune response, which can damage your small intestine, so that it cannot absorb nutrients from food, leading to anaemia, osteoporosis or an increased risk of lymphoma.
How to deal: Dr. Look recommends visiting a doctor, who will administer a physical exam or blood tests to confirm the diagnosis.
To stay well, Dr. Look suggest avoiding foods made with wheat, barley, or rye (yes, this includes beer, too) and upping your meat and veggie intake.
You Cramp, A Lot!
“Abdominal pains can sometimes start acutely and progress quickly in severity. This may be accompanied by fever, vomiting or other associated symptoms,” says Dr. Look.
Such intense cramping can be a symptom of serious conditions such as perforated ulcers, acute appendicitis, pancreatitis, cholecystitis and so much more.
How to deal: Make an appointment with your doctor immediately if the pain is persistent. Most of these conditions are easily treated, but, in severe cases, may require surgery.
Your Chest Burns
Occasional heartburn is normal, but frequent and excessive episodes may be caused by an abnormal backflow of acid and gastric juice from the stomach into the oesophagus — a condition that is know as gastroesophageal reflux disease.
It typically occurs in those who are overweight or as a side-effect from medications such as painkillers or anti-depressants.
Dr. Look explains that common symptoms include chest discomfort, food regurgitation, excessive belching, throat discomfort and even chronic coughing.
How to deal: While reflux is usually controlled with a course of acid blockers or other measures like weightloss and avoiding spicy, fatty or oily food, Dr. Look says that long-standing reflux may cause cancerous changes in the oesophagus.
A gastroscopy procedure can help diagnose the disease and exclude other harmful diseases such as oesophageal cancer.
Text: Pinky Chng/The Finder