Main­tain well-reg­u­lated life­style to avoid stom­achache

The Jakarta Post - - NATIONAL -

The hec­tic and hard-driv­ing life­styles of pro­fes­sion­als that lead to poor self-care, not to men­tion per­sonal dis­tress, have re­sulted in so many in­di­vid­u­als in their pro­duc­tive years - from as young as 30 or 40 – to also suf­fer from the ill­ness.

Two stom­ach con­di­tions com­monly found in peo­ple of pro­duc­tive age are dys­pep­sia and gas­troe­sophageal re­flux dis­ease (GERD), ac­cord­ing to Maya­pada Hos­pi­tal Tangerang in­ternist and gas troen­tero he pa to lo­gist, H end ra Nur­jadin, MD.

Both ill­nesses are mainly caused by stom­ach acid, but they have dif­fer­ent symp­toms. Dys­pep­sia symp­toms in­clude bloat­ing, dis­com­fort in the stom­ach and nau­sea, cou­pled with stom­achache and a feel­ing of be­ing sa­ti­ated all the time. GERD, mean­while, as its name sug­gests, also in­volves re­flux of stom­ach acid into the esoph­a­gus (food pipe) – the throat -- caus­ing a pa­tient to ex­pe­ri­ence heart­burn, dif­fi­culty or pain in swal­low­ing, chronic cough and hoarse­ness, as well as breath­less­ness.

Ac­cord­ing to Dr. Hen­dra, many pro­fes­sion­als do not have reg­u­lar meal sched­ules, with long in­ter­vals in be­tween food in­take, re­sult­ing in the stom­ach be­ing empty for a longer pe­riod and re­sult­ing in stom­achache. Poor time man­age­ment and hec­tic sched­ules of­ten make peo­ple skip meals al­to­gether.

Pro­por­tional food in­take is also im­por­tant here: when you eat too much to com­pen­sate for ex­ces­sive hunger caused by skip­ping a meal, you also in­crease your risk of suf­fer­ing a stom­achache.

Spicy and acidic foods, as well as drink­ing too much cof­fee or al­co­hol and tak­ing too many pain killers, are ir­ri­tants for the stom­ach, caus­ing ero­sion of the mu­cous lin­ing of the gas­tric cav­ity (gas­tric mu­cosa) and lead­ing to stom­achache.

Smok­ing is also a risk fac­tor for the con­di­tion and harm­ful to the gas­tric mu­cosa layer, as nico­tine, as the pri­mary toxic com­po­nent of to­bacco, po­ten­ti­ates gas­tric mu­cosal in­jury and also im­pairs gas­tric mu­cosal de­fenses, mak­ing it more vul­ner­a­ble to ir­ri­ta­tion and also erod­ing the gas­tric mu­cosa, caus­ing se­vere stom­ach pain.

Obe­sity can also be a risk fac­tor as it dis­rupts the move­ments of the in­ter­nal ab­dom­i­nal cav­ity when di­gest­ing food.

Not to men­tion stress, which has be­come a part of modern pro­fes­sional life. Per­sonal dis­tress also in­creases the chances of de­vel­op­ing stom­achache, due to the brain-gut axis. “Stress hor­mones, such as cor­ti­sol, can trig­ger in­testi­nal motil­ity dis­or­der and cause ex­cess bile se­cre­tion, re­sult­ing in ex­cess bile in the small in­tes­tine, then re­flux back to­ward the stom­ach, ” Hen­dra said.

If left un­treated, as in other ill­nesses, stom­ach con­di­tions can cause se­ri­ous com­pli­ca­tions, such as ir­ri­ta­tion that can lead to ul­cers, caus­ing de­bil­i­tat­ing pain.

“There comes a point where dys­pep­sia just can’t be al­le­vi­ated by med­i­ca­tion, with the symp­toms get­ting worse, caus­ing pa­tients to vomit con­stantly, even hav­ing their fe­ces or gas­tric re­gur­gi­ta­tion laced with blood,” Dr. Hen­dra said.

Ex­ces­sive gas­tric acid in dys­pep­sia can be a breed­ing ground for Heli­cobac­ter py­lori, which is an acid-re­sis­tant bac­te­ria that is linked closely to gas­tric can­cer. Chronic ul­cers in the gas­tric mu­cosa layer can also lead to can­cer. In GERD, gas­tric acid re­flux can also cause the mu­cosa layer of the esoph­a­gus to thicken, yet an­other an­tecedent for a pre­can­cer­ous con­di­tion called Bar­rett’s esoph­a­gus, or throat can­cer.

Scary com­pli­ca­tions aside, stom­achache can also neg­a­tively af­fect a per­son’s pro­duc­tiv­ity at work. This dis­rup­tion even­tu­ally be­comes a turn­ing point where pa­tients in their pro­duc­tive age stop un­der­es­ti­mat­ing the gas­tric pain that they ex­pe­ri­ence, as it causes them to call in sick fre­quently, or hav­ing to leave the of­fice mid­day due to gas­tric pain that can no longer be reme­died by over-the-counter med­i­ca­tions.

To main­tain stom­ach health, there are some habits that we can ac­quire.

“We should main­tain a reg­u­lar life cy­cle. Go to bed early in the evening and wake up early. A lot of times, when you wake up late, you skip break­fast and this cre­ates a domino ef­fect of meal sched­ule dis­rup­tion,” Hen­dra said.

Main­tain the same time in­ter­val for your meal in­take. If you are used to eat­ing lunch at 1 p.m., you should prob­a­bly eat din­ner by 7 p.m. at the lat­est and eat break­fast at 7 a.m. the next morn­ing, with ad­di­tional snacks in be­tween meal times. Avoid ex­ces­sive cof­fee and al­co­hol in­take and do not smoke.

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