Stomach Disorders

Understanding Stomach Disorders Image

Stomach problems are an all too common facet of modern day living. Most of us at some time during our lifetime experience the discomfort of diarrhea, nausea, vomiting or abdominal cramps, that are associated with a wide range of common stomach disorders. Stomach problems range from mild stomach upset and indigestion to more troublesome conditions such as peptic ulcers and stomach cancer, not to mention the odd bout of debilitating gastroenteritis. With irregular eating schedules, travel, work stresses and the escalation of food disorders, it’s no surprise that our stomachs pay the price.

Now, fascinating research has shown that some people are more susceptible than others to stomach problems; that our driven contemporary lifestyles may aggravate existing problems and, in some cases, may even trigger the onset of certain stomach disorders. We overeat, we eat too quickly, we consume too much alcohol, we smoke, we become over-stressed, and our stomachs begin to rebel!

Other studies have identified a link between the side effects of taking medication for the treatment of other conditions and the occurrence of gastrointestinal disease. Gastric surgery is a common culprit shown in studies to be an underlying cause of delayed gastric emptying.

The good news is that most of the symptoms of common stomach problems are treatableif such research continues to reap benefits. Participation in current clinical trials, therefore, offers real hope through research.

Digestion: How a Healthy Stomach Works

Digestion begins when you chew your food. Chewing releases saliva, which helps the food move smoothly from the esophagus to the stomach and begins the digestion of carbohydrates. Even at this early stage of the digestion process, if you don’t chew your food slowly, problems can begin when the undigested food reaches your stomach.

When the food reaches your stomach, it is broken down by a combination of muscular contractions, called peristalsis, and a cocktail of chemicals. A healthy stomach produces sufficient levels of hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes, including pepsin, that ensure that the food is properly digested.

Stomach problems can arise, however, if the protective mucus lining becomes damaged, or if the stomach produces too much acid.

From the stomach, the partially digested food passes into the duodenum, the upper part of the small intestine. Food that has been thoroughly digested should have a thin liquid consistency when it leaves the stomach.

This section is divided into multiple articles, covering topics such as peptic ulcer and upset stomach.