There are many different digestive problems that may seem minor but lead to critical health issues. Some of these digestive problems are more common among women than men. One such digestive problem is acid reflux, known scientifically as gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD.
This condition is characterized by an uncomfortable feeling when the acid from the stomach flows up into esophagus. Acid reflux can also cause inflammation and scarring to the esophagus (Pick, 2008). Acid reflux is often diagnosed when heartburn in the chest occurs frequently.
Acid reflux is explained by the alteration of the gradient of pressure between the lower esophageal sphincter and the stomach. With acid reflux, the normal pressure in the stomach that pushes food down the esophagus is altered and the pressure from the stomach below becomes stronger than the pressure from above, causing the acid to rise back up (Pick, 2008). Acid reflux should be a source of concern because it is estimated that the 19 million Americans who suffer from it may not be aware of the risks attendant to the condition.
Acid reflux may cause damage and irritation tot he esophagus, due to delayed peristalsis caused by the acid content in the partly digested food that comes back up the esophagus (Resto, 2000). Common plans of care for acid reflux are taking antacids and H2 blockers, which provide relief for patients. Moreover, treatment of acid reflux takes time, and could even last from three months to a lifetime. The treatment goals in acid reflux are to reduce irritation and decrease reflux, and these could be achieved by changing one’s lifestyle and diet.
Recommended changes include quitting smoking, losing weight, decreasing portion size of food intake, and choosing food that increase pressure in the lower esophageal sphincter, such as decaffeinated coffee and protein-rich food. Finally, acid reflux could be avoided at night by elevating the head of the bed by six inches (Resto, 2000). Aside from taking the pills, the other treatment options are home remedies that are known to be effective in reducing the discomforting symptoms of acid reflux. Another common digestive problem is functional dyspepsia, which is a group of disorders characterized by upper abdominal pain or discomfort.
It is not easy to diagnose functional dyspepsia because its symptoms often overlap with those of other bowel disorders. Functional dyspepsia leads to physiological problems such as altered visceral sensation, nervous system dysregulation, psychological distress, and altered motility. Similar to acid reflux, the treatment of dyspepsia includes taking medication, such as antacids and antidepressants, and modification of diet and lifestyle through the avoidance of late evening meals and switching to law fat diet (Saad & Chey, 2006).
Neither taking medication or undergoing major changes in lifestyle and diet are conclusively effective in treating functional dyspepsia, because the disorder is basically covered in mystery, given its shared symptoms with other digestive disorders. When I was ten years old, I used to love eating hotdogs, ice cream, pizza, and strawberries. However, as time went on, I lost my appetite for hotdogs, while I still love eating the others. Now, I cannot stand eating hotdogs. Given the way my appetite for food changes, and the changes in my body processes, I do not imagine I would still be eating the same food I love today.
In the two examples given above, the development of either acid reflux and functional dyspepsia would dictate dietary and lifestyle changes. Thus, the possibility is not remote that I would be prevented from eating the same kinds of food that I eat today. Another example is the known decrease in metabolic rate, as one grows older. Thus, I know that in the future I would need to eat less quantity of food and eat more fiber because I would have slower metabolism in the future.