Dis­cussing di­ges­tive health is­sues

with Honourary Prof. Dr. Than Than Swe of the Univer­sity of Medicine, Gas­troin­testi­nal Dis­eases De­part­ment

Mizzima Business Weekly - - IN FOCUS -

Ac­cord­ing to your ex­pe­ri­ence, what types of gas­troin­testi­nal dis­eases are en­demic in Myan­mar?

As I said in my in­tro­duc­tion to this dis­ease, there is no one,re­gard­less of their age, who has never suf­fered from stom­achache, con­sti­pa­tion, di­ar­rhoea, and the most com­mon dis­ease, in­di­ges­tion. The word ‘in­di­ges­tion’ I say is dif­fer­ent from the mean­ing in Myan­mar slang. It does not mean grudge against some­one. I mean the lit­eral mean­ing of in­di­ges­tion. Most of the peo­ple are suf­fer­ing from this dis­ease. This dis­ease is not se­vere and painful but it gives a lot of trou­bles to the suf­ferer in his daily life and rou­tines. This is the com­mon dis­ease for many peo­ple. And then there are other se­vere gas­troin­testi­nal dis­eases of gas­troin­testi­nal tract can­cer, gas­troin­testi­nal bleed­ing, and so forth. Th­ese dis­eases must be treated prop­erly other­wise they will lead to death. And another dis­ease in the gas­troin­testi­nal tract may be caused by the side ef­fects of some medicines. Th­ese side ef­fects are found to have an im­pact on the gas­troin­testi­nal tract.

This dis­ease is com­mon among the Myan­mar peo­ple. So what im­pacts can our life­style and eat­ing habits have re­gard­ing th­ese gas­troin­testi­nal dis­eases? For ex­am­ple, eat­ing spicy foods, and so forth.

Yes, as a joke, I’d like to say you will feel hot in both en­try and exit when you eat chili and you will feel hot while it is in your body too. But when you eat sugar, it will give you sweet taste in en­try into your body but not on exit. Food will be medicine when you eat it prop­erly and it will be poi­son when you don’t eat it prop­erly. Our coun­try is Bud­dhism ma­jor­ity coun­try and in our Bud­dhist teach­ings, ev­ery ef­fect has a cause -fate, mind, cli­mate and diet. In th­ese four causes, we can­not al­ter our fate which has been pre­de­ter­mined to each of us. We can slightly al­ter our mind and cli­mate but not much. So the only avail­able al­ter­na­tive we can have is our daily diet. So diet or food is very much im­por­tant to us. As for the cli­mate, we can wear warm clothes in win­ter time and sum­mer wear in sum­mer time. We can change our food or eat­ing habits as we like un­like the other three causes. So we must eat food which will be suit­able for us.

We will have some trou­ble when we eat chili too much. This is com­mon among us. Don’t eat sticky rice too much if you want to avoid con­sti­pa­tion and in­di­ges­tion. And we should avoid oily food such as fret­ters (deep fried Burmese snacks). And some eat medium-cooked vegeta­bles as they think they are healthy food. Our di­ges­tive sys­tem can­not di­gest some medium-cooked vegeta­bles. All food must be and should be eas­ily di­gestible. And another thing we should take care of is the un­healthy and un­hy­gienic food such as some sal­ads and skew­ered pork snacks. We should avoid such un­healthy foods.

Yes, there will be many bac­te­ria or micro­organ­isms in our food. We will have health prob­lems when we eat th­ese un­healthy foods in­fected with such bac­te­ria.

Yes, that is cor­rect. Mother Na­ture gives us many bac­te­ria or micro­organ­isms in our body, some of them are friendly and some are un­friendly. They must be in a bal­anced con­di­tion. We will have good health when we have more friendly bac­te­ria in our body than un­friendly ones. If they are not in a bal­anced con­di­tion and un­friendly ones are more than friendly ones, we will have some health prob­lems such as di­ar­rhoea.

A mem­ber of the au­di­ence asked a ques­tion. He has acid­ity in stom­ach and it is en­larged. He has al­ready un­der­gone en­doscopy ex­am­i­na­tion. Some­times he has pain in right of the chest. He feels sweaty and cold­ness in his body. He asks what could be the dis­ease and what treat­ment he should have and what medicines he should take.

The pa­tient can­not know him­self the di­ag­no­sis of his dis­ease with the signs of high acid­ity and foam in the stom­ach. He feels acid­ity when th­ese acids go up­stream in the oe­sophageal tract. Some­times one may have much saliva with high acid­ity in mouth though this is not be­cause of a cough. This will cause foam in the mouth. So this is a gas­tric dis­ease as his gas­tric sys­tem pro­duces much more acid above the nor­mal range. As for the en­larged gas­tric tract, dur­ing en­doscopy ex­am­i­na­tion, the gas­tric tract is nor­mally in­flated. It will go back to nor­mal size after ex­am­i­na­tion when de­flated like a bal­loon. There may be no en­larged gas­tric in any­one. If the pa­tient has had gas­tric en­do­scopic ex­am­i­na­tion as he said, his physi­cian would know if there were any bac­te­ria in the gas­tric tract, and then the type of the swelling, and then the di­ag­no­sis will have been done. So he should con­sult with a gas­troin­testi­nal physi­cian by bring­ing along this gas­tric en­doscopy ex­am­i­na­tion re­sult or the physi­cian or pathol­o­gist who he vis­ited for the en­doscopy ex­am­i­na­tion.

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