Stomach disorders are very common, affecting millions of adults. The stomach is a complex organ that is responsible for digesting food and moving it through the digestive tract. When something goes wrong with the stomach, it can lead to painful and uncomfortable symptoms.
Some stomach disorders are short-lived and resolve on their own, while others can be chronic conditions requiring long-term management. This article will discuss some of the most prevalent stomach disorders that adults suffer from, the significant effects these disorders have, and provide some concluding thoughts.
What Are The Most Common Stomach Disorders In Adults?
There are several common stomach conditions that adults frequently experience. These include:
This is inflammation of the stomach lining. There are two main types: acute gastritis which comes on suddenly, usually due to infection, medications, or alcohol abuse; and chronic gastritis which occurs gradually often due to long-term use of pain relievers, autoimmune disorders, or H. pylori bacteria. Symptoms of gastritis include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and bloating.
💠 Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Also known as acid reflux, GERD occurs when stomach acid frequently flows back up into the esophagus. This is caused by weakness of the lower esophageal sphincter which is meant to prevent backflow. GERD symptoms include heartburn, regurgitation, chest pain, trouble swallowing, and nausea. It can also damage the esophagus over time if left untreated.
💠 Peptic Ulcer Disease
Ulcers are open, painful sores that develop on the lining of the stomach or upper part of the small intestine. They form when there is an increase in stomach acid production or a breakdown in protective mechanisms that defend against acid. The most common cause is infection from H. pylori bacteria. Symptoms involve burning abdominal pain that can be relieved by food, nausea, and bloating.
Often called indigestion, dyspepsia refers to recurring pain or discomfort centered in the upper abdomen. It may be accompanied by symptoms like bloating, early feeling of fullness, nausea, or heartburn. Dyspepsia can be caused by stomach ulcers, GERD, gastritis, or gallstones. Lifestyle factors like overeating, eating too quickly, spicy foods, alcohol, and stress can also contribute to dyspepsia.
This condition involves delayed emptying of the stomach contents into the small intestine. Gastroparesis can be caused by diabetes, nervous system diseases, infections, surgery, and certain medications. Symptoms include heartburn, nausea, vomiting, bloating, and abdominal pain. In severe cases, it can cause inadequate nutrition due to poor food absorption.
Significant Effects Of The Common Stomach Disorders In Adults
Stomach disorders not only cause uncomfortable symptoms, but they can lead to additional health complications if left untreated. Some significant effects include:
- Nutritional deficiencies – Many stomach conditions make it hard to properly digest and absorb nutrients from food. This can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies over time.
- Dehydration – Frequent vomiting and diarrhea from stomach disorders can result in dangerous fluid and electrolyte imbalances.
- Bleeding – Certain disorders like gastritis or ulcers can damage the stomach lining enough to cause internal bleeding. This blood loss can make someone anemic.
- Cancer risk – Having chronic gastritis or untreated H. pylori infection raises the odds of eventually developing stomach cancer.
- Perforation – Ulcers have the potential to erode through the entire stomach wall. This perforation allows digestive contents to spill into the abdominal cavity causing severe infection.
- Stricture – Reflux and inflammation from GERD can scar and narrow parts of the esophagus. This makes swallowing difficult and food can get stuck.
- Hospitalization – Serious complications of stomach disorders often require hospital care to treat dehydration, bleeding, or infections. Especially high-risk individuals may need monitoring in intensive care.
Stomach disorders encompass a variety of conditions that interfere with the stomach’s normal functioning. The most prevalent stomach problems that affect adults include gastritis, GERD, ulcers, dyspepsia, and gastroparesis. These common disorders frequently cause symptoms like abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and indigestion.
If not managed properly, stomach conditions can negatively impact nutrition, lead to dehydration, cause internal bleeding, increase cancer risk, and require hospitalization in severe cases.
Proper diagnosis, treatment, and lifestyle changes can help control uncomfortable symptoms and prevent dangerous complications of stomach disorders. Monitoring for warning signs and seeking prompt medical care is important, especially for chronic sufferers.
A: Seek prompt medical evaluation for stomach pain that is severe, persistent, or progressive; pain accompanied by symptoms like vomiting blood, blood in the stool, high fever, difficulty breathing, or swallowing; pain that wakes you from sleep or prevents you from sleeping; or pain accompanied by heartburn and trouble swallowing which can indicate a heart attack.
A: Doctors use a combination of approaches to diagnose stomach disorders including medical history, description of symptoms, physical exam, blood tests, endoscopy procedures that use a tiny camera to view the stomach lining, ultrasound or CT scans, and gastric emptying tests to evaluate digestive motility.
A: Some self-care measures that can help manage stomach disorder discomfort include avoiding triggers like spicy, fatty, or acidic foods; eating smaller, more frequent meals; remaining upright after eating; loosening tight clothing; applying heat packs or taking warm baths; sipping chamomile, peppermint, or ginger tea; taking over-the-counter antacids or acid reducers; getting adequate rest; and reducing stress through relaxation techniques.
A: See a doctor if symptoms persist for more than two weeks, are not relieved by over-the-counter remedies, disrupt your daily life, or are accompanied by fever, vomiting, bloody stools, anemia, significant weight loss, difficulty swallowing, or chest pain. Prompt care is key to properly diagnosing the underlying cause and preventing complications. People over 55 with new digestive symptoms should be evaluated as soon as possible.