It’s important to have a healthy gut, but often we ignore the signs and symptoms that can indicate an underlying problem in the digestive system. These problems are treated by a specialist doctor, the gastroenterologist (digestion doctor), who treats diseases of the pancreas, esophagus, throat, intestines, stomach and the diseases of the gastrointestinal tract.
according to dr Deo Lukyamuzi Kizza, a gastroenterologist at Case Hospital in Kampala, says digestive disorders are increasing because of our lifestyle and the types of foods we consume. Many turn to junk food, which contains large amounts of oil, salt, and sugar.
According to Dr. Lukyamuzi is one of the most common digestive problems and once this disorder is diagnosed it is important that they see a specialist to have it treated.
Chronic burping (belching) can be a symptom of inflammation of the lining of the stomach caused by Helicobacter pylori bacteria. He notes that ulcers are treatable and curable, but their full and complete treatment takes at least two months.
“If they are not cured within that time, then you could have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), hernia, polyps, stomach or esophagus cancer, or any other tumor in the stomach. As soon as the digestive doctor notices stomach ulcers that do not heal, he will immediately investigate one of the problems mentioned above. Stomach cancer can be treated and cured if caught early,” he says.
He adds that self-medication that is common today usually makes ulcers worse. Many people go and buy over-the-counter medicines to treat ulcers, but end up making the condition worse because they don’t know what medicines to take and for how long.
Many have experienced at least one episode of constipation (when a bowel movement is painful and distressing) in their lifetime. It can be caused by dehydration, some medications, a sudden change in eating habits, changes in sleep patterns or when traveling, or chewing food improperly. It makes the body toxic as the waste gets stuck inside and if this persists for some time one needs treatment.
This is when stomach acid is backed up into the esophagus, which is why frequent heartburn can be a sign of GERD. Eructation, a sound made by air in the esophagus. may be due to GERD. This reflux can also lead to ulcers and a burning sensation that can worsen appetite.
“This disease usually manifests as heartburn; a painful burning sensation in the throat that occurs when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus,” says Dr. Lukyamuzi.
Treating this warning symptom is important because reflux can cause serious damage to the esophagus over time. He therefore recommends that people who experience frequent heartburn receive appropriate diagnosis and treatment before the condition worsens.
Bloating is the accumulation of gas or air in the stomach and intestines. This can be due to the reactions of gut bacteria to certain foods or swallowing excessive air while eating or talking. It fills you up even if you have eaten very little. It usually returns to normal once food is digested, but if you’re experiencing persistent bloating with pain and sometimes vomiting, there could be an underlying problem that needs to be checked out by a digestive doctor.
dr Lukyamuzi says complications like irregular bowel movements (constipation), hemorrhoids, and colon cancer can cause one to bleed through the stool. Hemorrhoids (piles) are swollen and inflamed veins in the lower rectum and anus caused by straining the vein when having a bowel movement, pregnancy and obesity. This bleeding should never be ignored and treated as an emergency.
The most common symptom of pancreatitis is swelling of the pancreas, a small gland in the digestive system. It is usually accompanied by abdominal pain, nausea, tenderness in the abdominal region, acute pain after eating, and vomiting. It can start suddenly and last for days.
It is caused by gallstones, alcohol consumption, cystic fibrosis, pancreatic cancer or obesity. If you notice any of the above symptoms, you should see a doctor immediately.
”There are other symptoms and digestive upsets that should never be ignored, such as pain and difficulty swallowing food and water are a sign of an infection in your esophagus or throat, which is where the food particles travel,” says Dr. Lukyamuzi.
It’s a type of autoimmune disease triggered by gluten. Gluten is a type of protein found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. Therefore, foods such as bread, baked goods, meat substitutes, pasta, pizza, salad dressings and beer, among others, contain gluten.
Celiac disease affects people with gluten sensitivity or gluten allergy. Therefore, they should not eat any foods containing gluten. However, when they eat gluten, they develop severe symptoms and reactions.
Symptoms of celiac disease include diarrhea, fatigue, bloating, abdominal pain, weight loss, constipation, nausea, and vomiting. Severe cases can cause anemia or a decrease in the body’s iron levels, osteoporosis, ulcers, and nervous system injuries. Therefore, it is important to see a doctor if you have severe celiac disease symptoms.