Myths and truths associated with various Digestive Diseases

Myths and truths associated with various Digestive Diseases

Since ages, several myths have been found associated with digestive diseases. We have started to live with those without knowing the proper truth behind them.

Myth No. 1 – Ulcers

Ulcers are caused by eating spicy food and high levels of stress.

Truth behind it –

  • Most of the ulcers in the stomach are caused by bacterial infection. Helicobacter pylori is the most common bacteria causing peptic ulcers. These can be cured with antibiotics.
  • Taking pain medicines like aspirin, naproxen or ibuprofen and other nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) over a prolonged period can also lead to stomach ulcers. But such ulcers require stomach-protective medications, complete avoidance of NSAIDs and antacids to be used over some time.
  • Even cancers can cause ulcers.
  • Consuming spicy foods and high level of stress can aggravate the symptoms in people already having peptic ulcers. But ulcers are never caused by eating spicy foods or stress.

Myth No. 2 – Heartburn

Heartburn can be relieved by smoking (1 cigarette).

Truth behind it –

  • We might never agree to this but, the truth is that smoking cigarette can lead to heartburn.
  • When the muscle between the stomach and the esophagus (lower esophageal sphincter or LES) relaxes, the acidic content gets back into the esophagus from the stomach (reflux).
  • Smoking very often leads to esophagitis (inflammation of the esophagus), which is caused by excessive reflux over a prolonged period. This is how heartburn is caused.

Myth No. 3 – Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is a childhood disease and is rare in occurrence.

Truth behind it –

  • The celiac disease is not limited to children. Both adults and children are affected by it.
  • About 1 in every 200 Americans are prone to celiac disease due to their genetic composition (heredity).
  • In a few cases, the symptoms might initiate during childhood. The common symptoms include failure in growth, diarrhea, and failure to thrive. But these can also be initiated at any age. But these symptoms are often attributed to other medical conditions.
  • The true symptoms of celiac disease include – abdominal pain, abdominal distention, bloating and diarrhea. These are the result of the affected small intestine.
  • Other symptoms like anemia, osteoporosis, skin rashes etc. are caused due to the malabsorption of nutrients by the affected intestine.
  • Besides the above symptoms, some other non-specified symptoms may also be observed which cannot be diagnosed.
    foods rich in gluten must not be taken by celiac patients. This protein is present in barley, rye and wheat. Gluten increases the inflammation and destroys the lining of the small intestine. Gluten consumption can also interefer with the nutrient absorption.

Myth No. 4 – Bowel Regularity

One bowel everyday is called a ‘Regular Bowel’.

Truth behind it –

  • The frequency of bowel varies from person to person. It may be three in a day to 3 in a week for different individual. A few healthy persons might even fall completely away from this range.
  • But even three bowels in a day can be unusual in people with one bowel a day.
  • Continuous fluctuatiuon in the number of stool and consistency of the stools is not regular.

Myth No. 5 – Constipation

Enemas can be used everytime to treat constipation. These are harmless even after prolonged use.

Truth behind it –

  • Very limited studies have been done on the effects of enemas. So the harm of the habitual use of laxatives is not confirmed yet.
  • Some believe that laxatives can damage the colon after impairing the contractions of the muscles of the colons; if consumed over a long period.
  • Some researchers also claim that enemas are more natural and safe compared to other laxatives.
  • But an ongoing need for enemas is not beneficial, must be consulted with physician.

Myth No. 6 – Diverticulosis

Diverticulosis is an uncommon problem but is quite serious.

Truth behind it –

  • Most of the Americans above 60s are diverticulosic, excluding a few who show some complications or symptoms.
  • Several small out-pouchings or pocket-like sacs are formed in the wall of the colon which are called diverticula. Thus, the name of the condition is given as diverticulosis.
  • These diverticula become more visible and increase in the number over age.
  • An X-ray test, colonoscopy or barium enema may be used to diagnose the diverticula.
  • People with diverticulosis may develop several complications like perforation of the colon or bleeding in the colon. But this occurs in about 10% of the diverticulosic patients or lesser.

Myth No. 7 – Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Psychological problems cause inflammatory bowel diseases.

Truth behind it –

  • The Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are commonly known as inflammatory bowel diseases.
  • The exact cause of these diseases is not yet known.
  • Researchers believe that the either viral interaction or bacterial interaction with the human body might be the cause.
  • But no evidences are found supporting the myth that anxiety, tension or any kind of psychological factors can cause inflammatory bowel diseases. But these can aggravate the symptoms in people already suffering from inflammatory bowel diseases.

Myth No. 8 – Cirrhosis

Alcoholism causes Cirrhosis.

Truth behind it –

  • Alcoholism is one of the various causes of cirrhosis.
  • The scarring and decreased functionality of the liver is termed as cirrhosis.
  • In the United States, less than 50% cases of cirrhosis are caused by alcoholism, remaining is caused by diseases and other medical conditions.

Myth No. 9 – Ostomy Surgery

Men suffer from erectile dysfunction and the sexual function in women is impaired after an ostomy surgery. Following this surgery, the fertility is lost in both partners.

Truth behind it –

  • No relation exists between ostomy surgery and reproductive capabilities.
  • When a diseased part of the small or large intestine is removed, and the remaining portion is attached to an opening in the abdomen, it is called ostomy surgery. A bag is taped to the skin over the opening, in which the stool is collected. In some other cases, an internal pouch may be prepared taking a portion of the intestine that can collect the stool similar to the tapped bag. A catheter is inserted at regular intervals to empty the pouch.
  • In case of radical ostomy surgery performed due to cancer, the erection ability may be lost in men for a temporary period. This is the result of the damaged nerves in the penis.
  • In women, this surgery is never a direct cause of loss of sexual desire. The pain and discomfort following the surgery often leads to temporary loss in sexual desire and ability.

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