(PRODUCT IN FOCUS: JINGHUA WEIKANG)
There's something about digestive difficulties that makes them hard to discuss in polite company—which leaves many of us suffering one problem or another in silence. What's more, digestive disorders are placing a "growing burden", causing an unprecedented number of clinic visits and hospitalizations. Yet fixes can be as simple as making informed lifestyle changes or taking over-the-counter remedies.
If you have unexplained stomach pain, consider this before reaching for a painkiller: "The worst thing to do if ulcers are suspected is to take aspirin or other NSAID [nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug] pain reducers," Gold says. "They worsen it and don't help."
Instead, if you think you have a peptic ulcer —and 25 million living Americans will get one at some point—consider getting tested for Helicobacter pylori, experts advise. By disrupting a protective layer of mucus, that bacterium causes ulcers, which are sores in the lining of the stomach or first stretch of the small intestine. Other causes include smoking, which can elevate stomach acidity, and excessive NSAID use. Alcohol use may also be a factor, but it's unclear whether that alone can cause ulcers. (The old theory blaming factors like stress isn't totally wrong: Stress can aggravate symptoms of peptic ulcers and delay healing.)
Left untreated, ulcers can cause internal bleeding and may eat a hole in the small intestine or stomach wall, which can lead to serious infection. Ulcer scar tissue can also block the digestive tract. And long-term H. pylori infection has been linked to an increased risk of gastric cancer.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder that affects the large intestine (colon). Irritable bowel syndrome commonly causes cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea and constipation. IBS is a chronic condition that you will need to manage long term.
Diarrhea describes loose, watery stools that occur more frequently than usual. Diarrhea is something everyone experiences. Diarrhea often means more-frequent trips to the toilet and a greater volume of stool.
In most cases, diarrhea signs and symptoms usually last a couple of days. But sometimes diarrhea can last for weeks. In these situations, diarrhea can be a sign of a serious disorder, such as inflammatory bowel disease, or a less serious condition, such as irritable bowel syndrome.
Gastrointestinal (GI) disorders are common among all people, including those affected by diabetes. At some point in any patient's life, the chances that he or she will develop a GI tract problem, be it peptic ulcer disease, gallstones, irritable bowel syndrome, food poisoning, or some other malady, are extremely high.
As many as 75% of patients visiting diabetes clinics will report significant GI symptoms. The entire GI tract can be affected by diabetes from the oral cavity and esophagus to the large bowel and anorectal region. Thus, the symptom complex that may be experienced can vary widely. Common complaints may include dysphagia, early satiety, reflux, constipation, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Many patients go undiagnosed and under-treated because the GI tract has not been traditionally associated with diabetes and its complications.
As with other complications of diabetes, the duration of the disorder and poor glycemic control seem to be associated with more severe GI problems. Patients with a history of retinopathy, nephropathy, or neuropathy should be presumed to have GI abnormalities until proven otherwise.