Due to differences between traditional ways of treating illnesses and modern medicine, there are many inaccurate theories about illnesses, most of which stem from folklore, old tales and other such sources. However, even though these stories and theories are mostly harmless and benign, they can lead to misunderstanding and improper diagnosis in some cases.
One of the groups that has been exposed to many myths and unreal speculations throughout history are the most common digestive problems, including heartburn, ulcers, inflammatory and irritable bowel etc. Thus, the following lines will give their best to shed some light on the matter, allowing you to differentiate facts from fiction, when it comes to digestive illnesses and problems.
Facts and Myths about Digestive Diseases
Until recently, digestive diseases were a matter of mystery and speculations. For example, many people believe, even today, that spicy food triggers the formation of stomach ulcers. However, this presumption is false since stomach ulcers are most commonly caused by a bacterial infection or develop as a side effect of drugs such as Aspirin, ibuprofen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. The bacterial infection triggering stomach ulcers can be treated with antibiotics. On the other hand, if drugs have caused this condition, one can overcome it through abstinence from the medications in question or by taking stomach-protective drugs or antacids. Unfortunately, another potential cause of stomach ulcers is cancer, so this condition needs to be further looked into.
Moving on to heartburn. There is an illogical theory that cigarette smoking alleviates heartburn. In reality, this action only makes matters worse since smoking causes the lower esophageal sphincter, a muscle separating the stomach from the esophagus, to relax, granting the stomach acids access to the esophageal area.
As far as celiac disease is concerned, many people claim that this is a rare childhood disease. Of course, like all other myths above, this one is not true as well. Namely, celiac disease affects both children and adults and, in fact, each 200th person in the US suffers from this condition. Surely, the symptoms may appear during childhood, through diarrhea, growth inhibition and failure to thrive, but celiac disease can also strike people during their adult stage of life. Bloating, diarrhea, pain in the abdominal area, skin rashes, anemia and osteoporosis, all can be signs of this disease.
Another disease which is prone to being misinterpreted is diverticulosis. Basically, it is through to be a serious, yet uncommon problem. However, the vast majority of American citizens who are older than 60 suffer from diverticulosis, even though this condition is asymptomatic in most cases. In fact, only 10% of cases experience serious complications such as infections, bleeding or colon perforation.
Next, many people believe that bowel regularity is a term signifying bowel movements on a daily basis. Yet, this expression, in this case, is misunderstood. If you experience bowel movements from three times a day to three times a week, you are considered to be healthy. Moreover, some healthy individuals cross these borders without having any health issues.
Speaking of bowel processes, those who believe that using enemas to stop frequent onsets of constipation is a proper action to take, are wrong. In the long run, enemas inhibit proper actions of the intestine, leading to malfunction.
Also, rest assured that psychological problems do not trigger inflammatory bowel disease. Even though experts are still unsure about the exact culprit, they suspect a virus or a bacterium is compromising one's immune system.
Additionally, contrary to popular belief, cirrhosis is not caused by excessive alcohol consumption only. Simply, cirrhosis is a consequence of excessive scarring of the liver. As far as this condition is concerned, in only 50% of cases in America, the culprit is alcohol. In other cases, cystic fibrosis, alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, biliary atresia, hepatitis, glycogen storage disease and many other rare conditions lead to liver cirrhosis.
Finally, we have reached the area of ostomy surgery. A great number of people think that this procedure leads to erectile dysfunction in men and infertility in women. However, ostomy surgery is not involved in any of these. Basically, during this surgery, a small part of the small or large intestine is removed and the rest of the intestine is connected to an opening in the abdomen. Most men do not lose their ability to achieve erection after this surgery and it definitely does not lead to sterility in women.
Statistic Information about Digestive Diseases
Nowadays, digestive disorders cost $18 billion a year, due to the price of treatments and absence from work. Moreover, according to recent research about 30,000 Canadian citizens die due to digestive illnesses. In general, 10% of all hospitalizations are because of these conditions and 10 million Canadians have H. pylori infection, being the main cause of stomach ulcers. As for Barret's esophagus, 800,000 Canadians live with it while more that 330,000 suffer from celiac disease, 73,000 of whom are children. These children are misdiagnosed in 30% of cases.
All in all, digestive diseases need to be analyzed and studied further since, on many occasions, misdiagnoses and misinterpretation are related to them, due to a lack of knowledge and capability of differentiating myths from fiction.
So, if you happen to suffer from a digestive disease, seek medical assistance without trying some ancient magical recipes on your own.