Stomach is a vital organ in a human being. It is made up of muscles and looks like a pear-shaped bag. It is elastic in nature – human stomach changes it size and shape according to the position of the human body and the amount of food present inside the stomach. The stomach of a normal human being is about 12 inches long and 6 inches wide at its widest point. The stomach plays a vital role in digesting the food we eat. It also releases various enzymes and protects our lower intestine from harmful organisms. It is located in the upper part of the abdomen just below the left rib cage.
Common Stomach Disorders in Humans
Peptic Ulcer Disease
Causes of Common Stomach Diseases
Gastritis – In the stomach there is a delicate balance between acid and the wall lining which is protected by mucus. When this mucus lining is disrupted for whatever reasons signs and symptoms of acidity result. This may result in upper abdominal pain, indigestion, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and heartburn.
Gastroparesis – The stomach motility disappears and food remains stagnant in the stomach. The most common cause of gastroparesis is diabetes. It can also occur from a blockage at the distal end of stomach, a cancer or a stroke. Symptoms of gastroparesis includes abdominal pain, fullness, bloating, nausea, vomiting after eating food, loss of appetite and feeling of fullness after eating small amounts of food.
Cancer – Stomach cancers usually occur due to fluctuations in acidity level. Symptoms are vague which include abdominal fullness, weight loss and pain. The exact cause of stomach cancer is not known but has been linked to infection with H.pylori, pernicious anemia, Menetriere’s disease and nitrogenous preservatives in the food we consume.
Peptic Ulcer Disease – This is commonly known as PUD. It is an ulcer on the gastrointestinal tract which is acidic and hence very painful. Symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, waterbrash, nausea, loss of appetite resulting in loss of weight etc.
Dyspepsia – Commonly known as indigestion or stomach upset. It is a medical condition characterized by chronic or recurrent pain in the upper abdomen, upper abdominal fullness and feeling full earlier than expected when eating.
Treatments of Common Stomach Diseases
Most stomach problems are linked to smoking and tobacco consumption; hence the intake of tobacco (directly or through cigarettes) should be stopped. Experts recommend a healthy diet consisting of fruits and vegetables. One should avoid meat and diary products.
Endoscopy – This procedure is performed as an outpatient and utilizes a small flexible camera. The procedure does require intravenous sedation and takes about 30-45 minutes; the endoscope is inserted via the mouth and can visualize the entire swallowing tube, stomach and duodenum. The procedure also allows the physician to obtain biopsy samples. In many cases of bleeding, the surgeon can use the endoscope to treat the source of bleeding with laser, clips or other injectable drugs.
X Rays – Other radiological studies frequently used to assess patients with chronic stomach problems include a barium swallow, where a dye is consumed and pictures of the esophagus and stomach are obtained every few minutes. Other tests include a 24 hour pH study, CT scans or MRI.