Digestive disorders are a part of life, and whereas a mild bout of heartburn or indigestion following a late night drinking binge and extra hot curry might be rather self inflicted and short lived, for some people digestive disorders can reach a whole new level and cause massive amounts of discomfort, pain and inconvenience.
Indigestion can be caused by many different things, a condition in the digestive tract, for example, like gastroesophageal reflux disease (we’ll call that GERD, much easier to spell!), a peptic ulcer, abnormalities in the bile ducts or pancreas – very often indigestion is short lived and some people are susceptible to it after eating specific foods, and ease their discomfort by chewing on minty chalky tablets of some description, in fact some people never leave home without them (mostly mothers in law, in my experience).
GERD is often symptomised by frequent painful heartburn, in fact, many people don’t even know that they have GERD, or acid indigestion. Some people who suffer from GERD don’t suffer from heartburn, but experience asthma type symptoms, a dry cough and may have trouble swallowing. The following foods are renowned for aggravating the symptoms:
- citrus fruits
- fried and fatty foods
- onions and garlic
- coffee and tea
- spicy foods
- mint flavorings
- salsa, chili and pizza
So the choice is, do you eat those things and suffer, or keep away from them and relieve your symptoms – it’s really down to your personal decision.
Heartburn is something different from indigestion, it’s caused by acid from the stomach rising up into the esophagus – very often you can get heartburn and indigestion at the same time, but they are not the same thing.
Gas is something which everyone has and emits, in one way or another, but some people do seem to have a lot more of it than others, and I’m not talking about the hot air coming out of their mouths . . . Apparently, it’s normal to have between 1 and 4 pints of gas a day, and pass gas 14 times daily – I know a couple of boys who could beat that hands down, I’ve never thought of it as being medical before though, more like bad manners. Some foods are better at causing gas than others – mainly beans, cabbage, brussel sprouts, onions, pears, artichokes, prunes, peaches, corn, pasta, potatoes – the list is pretty much endless, that explains a lot.
Lactose Intolerance means that you don’t have the ability to digest lactose, which is the sugar found in milk and its products. The cause of lactose intolerance is a deficiency in lactase, an enzyme produced by the cells which line the small intestine. Lactose intolerance is most common among older adults, interestingly it is more prevalent in some racial and ethnic populations than others. Even if you suffer from lactose intolerance, the chances are that you will be able to manage some small levels of lactose in your diet – you might find that you are okay if you only drink milk while you are eating, for example, but lactose free and lactose reduced products are available if not.