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On the left side of the abdomen is your stomach, a sac-like, muscled organ designed to digest your intake. Filled with acid and enzymes, the stomach is lined with muscles called rugae, which contract every so often to churn food, hastening digestion.
From the esophagus, food enters the stomach through a muscular valve called the lower esophageal sphincter. After the stomach has achieved its purpose, the food is then ferried down to the small intestine through yet another valve called the pyloric sphincter.
Since the stomach is a very acidic environment, a healthy lifestyle underscores the importance of eating enough and on time.
Stomach conditions and diseases
Though strong, the linings of the stomach are not indestructible. It is vulnerable to erosion, leading to a condition known as stomach or gastric ulcer. Often caused by bacteria, i.e. Helicobacter pylori, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), gastric ulcer leads to stomach bleeding. Both ulcers in the stomach and the duodenum, a part of the small intestine, are termed peptic ulcer disease.
Like ulcer, gastritis is another common stomach condition. This happens when the stomach becomes inflamed, making you feel nauseous. It may arise from an H. pylori infection, drug reaction, or excessive intoxication.
Not uncommonly, many people experience gastroesophageal reflux, a condition wherein the contents of the stomach go back towards the esophagus. A reflux causes heartburn at worst. If the reflux happens more often, then it may be a gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) already. GERD poses many problems to the stomach as well as the esophagus.
These are some other stomach diseases and conditions:
Stomach cancer. Also known as gastric cancer, stomach cancer is not common. This type of cancer is often classified either as an adenocarcinoma or lymphoma.
Zollinger-Ellison syndrome (ZES). A rare stomach disease, usually caused by GERD and peptic ulcers. In this condition, a tumor produces hormones that increase secretion of acids in the stomach.
Indigestion. Also called dyspepsia, it can be caused by almost any condition.
Gastroparesis. Diabetes and other debilitating conditions damage the neurons, impeding much-needed stomach contractions. As a result, food is emptied more slowly. It results in vomiting and nausea.
Gastric varices. Liver disease forces the stomach’s veins swell. These swollen veins, called varices, can explode anytime.
Treating stomach conditions
You may buy antacids to curb the effects of an overly acid stomach. However, antacids do not end acid production totally nor do they treat bacterial infections.
Proton pump inhibitors can block the acid-secreting pumps of the stomach. Ideally, you should take them every day to maximize their effect. Or else you can take histamine blockers, which also lessen acid secretion in the stomach.
Doctors often prescribe motility agents for gastroparesis treatment; antibiotics for an H. pylori infection; and stomach surgery for severe bleeding, bursting ulcers and gastric cancer.
For a more natural and safe approach, we recommend:
DigestAssist – relieves acute and chronic digestive problems
Gastronic Dr – relieves acute and chronic digestive disorders
Gasolve Relief – promotes digestive calm and comfort after meals to alleviate gas and bloating
all of which promote digestive calm and support the entire digestion process.
Tests for stomach conditions
A doctor may call for a gastric emptying study. In this test, he or she watches, from a scanner, how fast food is emptied down the stomach.
Another stomach test, called upper GI series, involves taking X-rays of the stomach, plus the esophagus and the duodenum. There is also another way to use X-ray to detect stomach conditions, wherein the patient takes barium. The substance travels down the body, finally resting in the stomach, illuminating the organ on the X-ray film.
Other stomach tests:
pH test – a tube is inserted into the nose, down to the esophagus. This is done to measure levels of acidity in the esophagus, helping detect GERD.
Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) – also known as upper endoscopy, this is done by inserting an endoscope through the mouth to the stomach. The camera-bearing endoscope lets the doctor see magnified images of the stomach. The doctor may maximize the endoscope to take a stomach biopsy or stop internal bleeding.