Season Change: The Culprit Behind Stomach Pain
Not everyone welcomes the spring with enthusiasm, especially those who suffer from heartburn. The change can be difficult to deal with. With the transition to spring, symptoms of heartburn may worsen in many. Luckily, there are simple remedies to help control acidity and heartburn. It is important to understand the differences in seasonal patterns and how they can bring about abdominal pain. In both children and adults, both acidity and heartburn along with other digestion issues may exist due to common chronic pain conditions, they can also be triggered by various factors that may vary with age. Nevertheless, particular attention should be paid to nutritional and lifestyle choices.
The most common causes of stomach pain are gastritis and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). Therefore, it is important to carefully choose what one eats. It is best to avoid foods that can negatively affect the oesophagus and stomach by stimulating the production of acid. Also avoid foods if they cause discomfort and burning. Some of these foods include tomatoes, citrusy fruits, spices, coffee, mint, chocolate and fatty foods in general. Gastritis is an inflammation, irritation or erosion affecting the lining of the stomach. It may present itself suddenly (acute conditions) or gradually (chronic conditions).
Activity and exercise help digestion
The balance of bacteria in the gut is affected by a wide variety of factors including stress, lack of sleep, travel, over-indulgence in rich foods, excessive sugar and refined carbohydrates, alcohol, smoking and medications such as antibiotics, steroids and hormones. Gut flora is also affected by the natural aging processes and hormonal fluctuations such as menstruation and pregnancy. Sudden illnesses and food poisoning can also play havoc on the digestive system.
Particular bad habits can also affect digestion, “With a quick work pace and a stressful lifestyle, a meal consumed during the day is easily digested. Foods consumed in the late evening take longer to digest since the system works more slowly, especially if the foods are fatty or processed. Examples of such foods include dairy heavy and fried foods.” – says Dr. Beatrice Salvioli, Gastroenterologist at Humanitas hospital.
Sleep and the bowel
The amount of sleep and changes in sleep patterns can also affect bowel habits. Just like the rest of the body, the digestive system needs time to relax and recuperate. In current urban lifestyles, many individuals don’t get enough sleep and many also stay up until early hours of the morning either watching TV or surfing the net. This is often accompanied by late night snacking, forcing the digestive system to work at an hour when it should be resting.
Antibiotics vs. bacteria
Although antibiotics kill harmful bacteria, many also kill beneficial bacteria which keep the digestive system healthy. In fact, when one takes antibiotics, up to 60% of the total amount of bacteria in the gut – both good and bad – can be killed, leading to diarrhea. The aftermath of consuming antibiotics can be countered by eating plenty of foods such as asparagus, banana, garlic, onion, leek, artichoke, etc. These foods help the friendly bacteria in the digestive system multiply. Having a probiotic preparations everyday can also help restore good bacteria balance.
Dr. Salvioli advises the following, “You should avoid lying down on the couch immediately after dinner. Make an effort to go out for a short walk since movement facilitates digestion.”
Lastly, it is recommended to avoid alcohol and smoking because they increase stomach acidity. Teas made from chamomile, valerian and lemon balm may help relieve pain and discomfort associated with digestive issues.
For more about the benefits of herbal teas read our previous article titled, “Water Retention: the Benefits of Herbal Teas.”