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Are You "Gastric"?--ClickHeal
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  Are You "Gastric"? Dr  Kavery  Nambisan 2012-04-30 05:48:46  

The one common ailment that is recognised everywhere in our country is popularly referred to as "Gastric."

Patients seem to love this condition and hold on to it like something they can never let go. Medically speaking, this term is meaningless in terms of illness ('gastric' simply means 'stomach'). I've learnt to understand that when a patient fondly rubs his belly and says, "Doctor... I'm suffering from Gastric," he is talking of a group of symptoms directly related to bad eating habits, namely, a burning sensation in the stomach, bloating, nausea etc. This may be the result of hyperacidity, acid reflux into the gullet or an ulcer in the stomach. These are grouped under the term, Acid Peptic Disease or APD.

Acid Peptic Disease may produce very vague and relatively minor symptoms or it may be severe in nature and require hospitalisation and treatment. Although APD is a term given to several different ailments of the digestive system, the causative factors and methods of treatment are the same, at least in a majority of cases. Only some patients need tests like endoscopy, biopsy and surgery.

The Causes:

*Irregular eating habits.

*Long intervals between meals followed by the hasty eating of fast-food which is almost always junk food, packeted and preserved snacks and cold drinks.



*Chewing of tobacco, supari or gutka.

*Excessive use of tea/coffee, especially on an empty stomach.


*Indiscriminate use of drugs like pain-killers, antibiotics and steroids.

Remedy: If you are a sufferer, have a careful look at the above list and see if you can find what you can eliminate from your life. It is surprising how most of us try to underplay the existence of one or more of the above in our lives. For instance, a person who vehemently denied having any of the above risk factors told me on further questioning, that she drinks three or four cups of strong coffee a day, cannot do without pickle for lunch, loves tucking in at Macdonalds and yes, she misses her breakfast almost every day. And of course, stress is 'normal', isn't it?

That depends on how you look at it. Stress is nothing but an overload of anxiety and worry. While a certain amount of stress is a part of life, excessive overload or sustained stress is certainly very harmful. Some of us are better in handling stress than others. It is important to do a self-check of your stress levels and see how you can overcome it. Sticking to a reasonable routine in your daily life, spending 10-15 minutes every morning quietly reflecting on the day ahead, deep breating, yoga, walking, a brief period of rest in the afternoon, prayer and meditation and daily time for relaxation and fun are all known to help control the stress or anxiety in our lives.

Drugs that control acidity. The symptoms of most conditions associated with acidity are caused by the increased production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. Normally, there is a small amount of acid in gastric juice which is produced by the stomach to help the normal digestion of food. Due to one or more of the causative factors mentioned above, there is an increase in acidity and it gives rise to the problems which are clubbed together under the term Acid Peptic Disease. The drugs - tablets, capsules and liquids - help neutralise or reduce the acid content in the stomach. While it is okay to take one of these medicines to control your symptoms, it is best not to take any of them regularly. Many of them have serious side effects if taken over a long period of time. Unfortunately, many doctors are unaware of this and encourage patients to take them frequently. It is quite common for doctors to routinely prescribe anti-acidity drugs when they are being treated with antibiotics for any infection. But if you are otherwise healthy, you can take a course of antibiotics without problems, provided you take them after a meal and drink plenty of water. Also make a habit of drinking a cup of curds every day. It is a great acid-neutraliser.

Talking of curds (or yoghurt ), sour foods are not always acid in nature. Lime juice, curds, mango, orange and gooseberry are not at all harmful in people with high acidity, if taken after a meal. On the other hand, an excess of non-vegetarian food, fried items, colas and almost all junk food will increase acidity. And that includes bakery items.

Acid Reflux. Some people suffer from this distressing condition that causes acid from the stomach to rise into the gullet causing 'heartburn' (burning sensation in the chest) or chest pain that can be confused with a heart problem. If you have this problem, raise the head end of the bed by placing two or three pillows beneath the mattress and then using a thin pillow for your head in the usual way. This will raise the level of the chest as compared to the lower part of the body, and prevent acid from rising up into the gullet.

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