Diarrhea and other digestive problems are no fun, especially for people who suffer from them often. Such problems can be the result of bacteria in food, infection, stress, certain medications, or chronic medical conditions such as colitis, Crohn’s disease, and IBS. But no matter the cause, anyone who has frequent digestive problems faces daily challenges and potential embarrassments. Do you schedule your activities around your bathroom breaks? Do you turn down invitations and avoid activities in public because you fear having an accident? If that sounds like you, rest assured you’re not alone.
There's something about digestive difficulties that makes them hard to discuss in polite companywhich leaves many of us suffering one problem or another in silence. What's more, digestive disorders are placing a “growing burden” on Americans, causing an unprecedented number of clinic visits and hospitalizations, says Stephen Bickston, an American Gastroenterological Association fellow and professor of internal medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University. Yet fixes can be as simple as making informed lifestyle changes or taking over-the-counter remedies. Peppermint oil and soluble fiber, for example, can help people with irritable bowel syndrome; a 2008 British Medical Journal study suggests that both should be first-line therapies for IBS.
Here's a rundown of the latest medical wisdom on eight common gastrointestinal problems.
Symptoms of reflux, such as heartburn, are among the most common digestive ills. In a Swedish study, 6 percent of people reported experiencing reflux symptoms daily and 14 percent had them at least weekly. Such frequent symptoms …
Partner with your doctor by providing detailed feedback and asking questions about your condition and treatment program. If the medication your doctor prescribed isn’t effective or has unacceptable side effects, speak up. There may be other medications you can try. Before trying over-the-counter remedies or supplements, check with your doctor or pharmacist about possible side effects and drug interactions. Keep track of your experiences and questions so you can discuss them with your doctor.