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Digestive Health Archive
Could I have lactose intolerance?
Lactose intolerance can develop at any age, prompting gas, bloating, nausea, or diarrhea after people eat or drink dairy products. Secondary lactose intolerance can happen after the small intestine is jolted by surgery, illness, or injury.
The rundown on diarrhea
Everyone experiences acute (short-term) diarrhea at some time. The unpleasant experience often resolves on its own in a few days, but there are situations that require medical attention. Examples include bloody diarrhea, severe abdominal pain, a high fever, and episodes that continue for a week or longer. A medical consultation can help determine if diarrhea is related to a specific bacterium or parasite, a medication side effect, a food intolerance, or an inflammatory bowel disease.
Proton-pump inhibitors: Should I still be taking this medication?
Proton-pump inhibitors are a commonly prescribed anti-acid medication, but new guidelines from the American Gastroenterological Association recommend that they should be taken at the lowest dose and shortest duration for the condition being treated.
Beyond hot flashes
Around menopause, a decline in estrogen can trigger low-grade inflammation that leads to unexpected symptoms from head to toe. Symptoms can affect the digestive tract, skin, joints, eyes, ears, and heart, among other areas. A 2022 study found that estrogen loss can even fuel the jaw pain known as temporomandibular disorder. A year or longer can pass before many women connect symptoms with menopause. Women can take lifestyle measures to lower inflammation, such as eating more fruits and vegetables, avoiding processed foods, and exercising.
Travel tummy troubles: Here’s how to prevent or soothe them
Digestive troubles are no one’s idea of fun, but having them occur while traveling or vacationing is even worse. Here’s a closer look at three common digestive upsets, how to prevent them, and what to do if you have one.
Hospitalized patients can bring home infections
Clostridioides difficile, a bacterium that causes severe diarrhea and colon inflammation, is common in hospitalized people. New research suggests that even patients who are not diagnosed with the infection in the hospital can bring it home and expose family members.
How a fiber-rich diet promotes heart health
Fiber-rich diets may lower the risk of heart attack and stroke, in part by decreasing inflammation. This benefit appears to be facilitated by the breakdown of prebiotic fiber in the gut microbiome to create short-chain fatty acids. These compounds circulate through the bloodstream and interact with specific receptors on cells that quell inflammation. Short-chain fatty acids may also play a role in keeping blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels in check, as well as helping to prevent harmful blood clotting.
Inflammatory bowel disease and family planning: What you need to know
Inflammatory bowel disease is commonly diagnosed at a point in life when many people are planning families. People who have been diagnosed with IBD are likely to have questions and concerns regarding fertility, conception, pregnancy, delivery, and breastfeeding.
What’s the best sleep position to combat heartburn?
Among people with chronic heartburn, sleeping on the left side appears to help backed-up stomach acid leave the esophagus faster than sleeping on the right side or back, according to a study in the February 2022 issue of The American Journal of Gastroenterology.
Is it okay to use proton-pump inhibitors on demand?
When doctors say that it’s okay to take proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) "on demand" for chronic heartburn, the advice doesn’t apply to everyone. PPIs inhibit the production of stomach acid, which can back up into the esophagus and can cause pain (heartburn) and damage the lining of the esophagus. People with damage to the esophagus often stay on PPIs long-term to prevent further problems. People without damage to the esophagus can take a short course of PPIs as needed.
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