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Gastrointestinal diseases at epidemic proportions

Gastrointestinal diseases at epidemic proportions
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ndia in particular South India is facing increasing incidences of gastrointestinal diseases. 

Hyderabad: India in particular South India is facing increasing incidences of gastrointestinal diseases.

On the one hand there is the problem of malnutrition and infections like food poisoning, diarrhea, malabsorption, tuberculosis and on the other increasing number of chronic diseases like Irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease like crohns and ulcerative colitis and also gastrointestinal cancers. Excessive alcohol consumption, sedentary life style, increasing diabetes has also seen rapid increasing incidence of liver and pancreatic diseases too.

One of the common gastrointestinal conditions which is on the rise and a cause for concern is the Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). There is a gradual increase among young patients, in the age group of 22-40 years, seeking medical help for IBS. Population based studies estimate that IBS is seen in at least 20% of general population of which approximately only 20% seek medical help. It is estimated that 20-50% of gastrointestinal consultations relate to this symptom complex.

Most common symptoms of IBS are abdominal pain or discomfort or cramps associated with excessive gas formation, flatulence, belching, bloating and either diarrhea and/or constipation.

IBS is not a disease; it's a functional disorder, where the bowel doesn't work or function correctly. The main function of the intestine is to absorb and digest the food otherwise you would be losing weight and having malabsoprtion problems, which are not seen in IBS.

For the intestines to contract and relax we need lot of chemicals, nerve and pressure receptors and it is thought that when these mechanisms go haywire then either you end up having diarrhea (if hyperactive) or constipation (if underactive). If there is weight loss, blood in the stools or prolonged diarrhea or even constipation happens, then we need to look at excluding other serious conditions like ulcerative colitis, crohns disease and even sometimes bowel cancers too.

It is very important to consult a gastroenterologist if there are any of these alarming symptoms. If diagnosed early these GI diseases have excellent treatment outcomes said Dr Naveen Polavarapu, consultant, gastroenterologist and transplant hepatologist, Apollo Hospitals, Jubilee Hills.

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