You know the signs: repeated burping, massive bloat, unbearable nausea or bad stomach ache. Dr Wael Dahhan, Gastroenterologist, American Hospital Dubai, tells you how to cope with digestive issues
There’s something about digestive difficulties that makes them hard to discuss with people, which leaves many of us suffering in silence. Everyone experiences occasional digestive symptoms such as upset stomach, gas, heartburn, nausea, constipation or diarrhoea. When these symptoms occur frequently, they can cause major disruptions to your life. During Ramadan, particularly, prolonged fasting may precipitate or exacerbate gastrointestinal complaints. Fortunately, diet and lifestyle changes can have a positive impact. What are the common digestive problems? The American Hospital Dubai has seen a significant number of cases related to
gastroesophageal reflux disease and functional disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome. “There is also an increasing trend in cases of inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), besides helicobacter pylori-related gastritis and peptic ulcer disease,” says Dr Wael Dahhan, Gastroenterologist, American Hospital, Dubai. “Acute cases of gastrointestinal bleeding and gastroenteritis are also seen, in addition to liver diseases — fatty liver, hepatitis and liver cirrhosis.” With odd eating hours during the month-long fasting, cases related to digestive conditions may be seen frequently. It is important for patients with active peptic ulcer disease, active acute gastroenteritis with significant diarrhoea and active vomiting, to avoid fasting to prevent the complications of ulcers or dehydration from acute gastroenteritis. On the other hand, patients with acid reflux disease should take acid suppressing medications at sunset and before sundown to maximise acid suppression during these hours. If patients follow a sensible diet after sunset until sundown and avoid overfilling their digestive tract, fasting can be beneficial for those with acid reflux disease and functional bowel disorders and help in reducing their symptoms of heartburn, abdominal pain and bloating.” The incidence of peptic ulcer disease has seen a decline, but Dr Dahhan recommends that patients avoid fasting in cases of untreated, unhealed duodenal and gastric ulcers. “They should also avoid certain food and drinks that are known to trigger acid reflux, such as oily or spicy food and acidic juices. Dividing the food intake and fluids into three smaller parts between sunset and sundown is ideal, that would also apply to patients with irritable bowel syndrome and functional dyspepsia.” Inflammatory bowel diseases are on the rise in the Gulf region and for this reason American Hospital Dubai has focused plans to accommodate cases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. “We offer cutting edge diagnostic and therapeutic modalities where traditional diagnostic tools are offered, including colonoscopy and endoscopy,” says Dr Dahhan. “We have other advanced tests such as video capsule endoscopy and MRI enterography. “We also provide the newest options, which include traditional treatments and the latest biological agents with a dedicated fully staffed infusion centre, and surgical management if required.” If you have any digestive issues that don’t seem normal and could even be a sign of something serious, be sure to check in with your doctor right away.