You Asked We Answered: Your Questions on Gut Health
Dr Setya answers your questions on gut health.
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We sent out a newsletter asking you to send your questions regarding your gut problems to Dr Ashwini Setya, a leading gastroenterologist in New Delhi, and also FIT’s medical consultant.
Thank you for the overwhelming response. It highlights the need for more such platforms where you get to ask your queries directly to leading doctors and experts in the country.
Dr Ashwini Setya has answered each one of you individually. Please note these responses are not a diagnosis, but advice. Please visit a doctor for your treatment.
I have a chronic problem of reflux and bloated stomach. I have been advised by my doctor to use a pillow, but I also have cervical spondylitis so cannot use one. Please advise.
Pillow may not help because it actually would only flex your neck whereas we would like your upper body to be at a level higher than the legs so that gravity aids the return of whatever has refluxed in to the food pipe causing the symptoms. There are a few precautions you can take. You can raise the head and of your bed by keeping a block of wood or a brick under the legs of the bed. It will be a good idea to take an early dinner and keep a gap of at least two hours between the dinner and going to bed. Make it a habit to have water before your meals rather than with meals or immediately after. There should be a gap of about an hour or so before you take water after eating your food.
Read about GERD here.
I am 70 years old. For the past 6 months, I have been experiencing discomfort in my stomach due to excess gas as well as pain in my stomach. I have been to the doctor who has given me medication (colospa retard and ganitron) for the last 6 months. This has helped a bit and after passing stool, there is some relief. I have also been told that taking two table-spoons of virgin coconut oil is good, so I have been doing this for the last two months. I was also advised to take half a teaspoon of a mixture (100 grams turmeric powder, 100 grams pepper powder and 100 grams garlic powder) diluted in water before every meal to help with gas etc. I have been doing this as well for the last two months. While there is some relief, the bloated feeling and discomfort in the stomach has not gone away. I have also had a colonoscopy done and everything is clear. Please advise what else I can do ?
As the problem is fairly longstanding, I think you need a proper medical evaluation. Please see a good gastroenterologist.
I am a 20 years old, working professional. During weekdays, I have a particular routine of sleeping and eating, but on weekends, I stay awake till late night and get up very late on Sundays. I am facing severe problem of untimeliness of bowel movements. It is usually supposed to happen in the morning but even after having warm water, the movement doesn’t take place. I feel pressure during the day sometime, but that too not on a regular basis or not during a particular time slot. I need to boost my metabolism. Because of this, I am even facing skin problems. Please advise.
It is not clear from your description if you have this problem only on Sundays. If that is the case, the solution is to follow exactly the same routine as you do on weekdays. However, if it is a daily problem getting a routine stool examination to exclude any parasitic or other infection is advisable. Taking 2 teaspoonfuls of Isabgole husk with water after dinner may help.
I am a 25 year old woman and my weight is 72 kgs. I use to suffer from gastric and bloating issues. I haven’t been able to digest oily foods since my childhood. The food would get reversed in my mouth, no matter how light it would be. Sometimes, I don’t even feel hungry. I used to take a walk whenever I got time. I have severe constipation problem and I also feel that food gets stuck in my chest. Are these common issues? Please suggest any remedy or lifestyle changes are can be made as I strongly feel that this problem is leading me to obesity.
It appears that you are having a Reflux disease for that I can only suggest certain measures here but you would probably need to go to a specialist Gastroenterologist and he may advise you to undergo an endoscopy.
Meanwhile you should observe the following routine:
Take all three meals at proper time and have a very good breakfast a normal lunch and a relatively light a dinner.
Avoid drinking water immediately after meals. In fact it may be a good idea to have water before meals.
Keep a gap of 2 hours between your dinner and reclining.
Vajrasana is a very good asana to be done for 5 minutes immediately after your meals. Amongst the various yogasanas, this is the only asana permitted after meals.
You must avoid smoking and tobacco in any form, alcohol, carbonated drinks, coffee and pain killers, especially on an empty stomach.
No matter how disciplined one is while eating, every once in a while we end up eating what we have been avoiding for weeks. Sometimes, it can be on the heavier side (a large portion). A smaller helping of the same food might be okay if it’s taken infrequently. Is there something we can do to correct this? Like having hot water after bingeing on a buffet or skipping dinner if one has had a heavy lunch. Would this help?
If I got your question correctly, you are probably looking for a counter to dietary indiscretion or one off indulgence. Well I think the answer lies in moderation and regular timings of food. You don’t really need to take extreme measures for one off deviation from your disciplined eating, unless it is a binge eating. It may not be a bad idea to balance by decreasing the quantity of fat or carbohydrate on which you have binged in your next meal.
I have got gas and discomfort for sometime now, especially after eating food. In the morning, I feel that my stomach has not been cleared fully. I have chronic, irregular, irritable bowels movement. I am using ‘pancharist’ (Zandu) which helps.
Irritable bowel syndrome is a very common problem afflicting many people around the world. Bowels may be irregular or one may feel constipated or some others may have loose stools. However, one must not ignore The Red flag signs like loss of appetite and weight and bleeding rectally. Increasing fibre in your diet and drinking at least 2.5 to 3 litres of water in a day along with the regular exercise, six out of seven days in a week may be a good idea.
I am 68-years-old and I weigh 60 kgs. My height is 170 cms. I am currently retired after having served in the Air Force for 34 years. My appetite is fine. But my stomach is not efficient in its job of digestion. Serious stomach ache and digestive problems surfaced in 1990. Gastroenterologist, after series of tests including colonscopy/endoscopy, thyroid and other blood/stool tests like Fecal Fat etc, declared that I have no serious issues. I am teetotaler, vegetarian, mainly living on fruits/salads & boiled vegetables/dal, with a bit of carbohydrates (without masala,with less oil ) & non smoker. I go to bed by 9.00 -9.30 pm and get up at 0400 - 0430 am. I do yoga/pranayamam everyday in the morning/evening for a total of 1 hour. I also do walking/cycling/bit of gardening etc. Since 1990, I switched over to Naturopathy which kept me going all along without much of a problem. Slight variations in diet after retirement have led to loss of weight from 65 to 60 kgs. My stool habits are a minimum of 3 times a day, and at least once immediately after a meal with a bit of flatulence. I have reverted back to strict diet control. Clinically it appears that there are no issues. But I have my problem of low weight and worried about poor digestion and my stool habits. Request your valuable advice/guidance.
I certainly cannot find fault with your very disciplined lifestyle and daily routine. However, my feeling is that you are going overboard as far as dietary restrictions are concerned and possibly that’s the reason why you are losing weight. As the problem has been chronic, my suggestion to you would be to show yourself to a good Gastroenterologist and seek his advice regarding any further tests that may need to be done as it is around 2 years that you had your check up done.
I take 3 main meals, never skip breakfast, time of lunch and dinner is approx 3 pm and 12 am. I am fairly healthy 44-year-old male, 87 kg weight, 186 cm height, non smoker, non drinker. I am not on medication, and do not have any major/prolong illness. I suffer from gas, acidity and tightness in stomach often, and pain in leg joints when try to jog.
I think your symptoms are due to the erratic meal timings you have. I would presume that you are going to bed immediately after taking your dinner which may be the reason for your bloating and so called indigestion. I do not think there is any link between your joint pain and your food. What I would suggest is that unless it is not possible by reason of your job requirements, you may please change your meal timings and finish your dinner by 9:00 p.m.
I have been ravaged by bloating, gas and more gas. Also I start sweating profusely many a time half an hour or so after meals. Please help.
There may be several reasons for bloating but the information you have provided is inadequate to reach a conclusion without having a detailed history and examining you. You may like to see a Gastroenterologist for this.
My stomach gets upset very frequently and lot of gas formation followed by diarrhea. I take immodium tablets and it gets cured after some days. This is happening every now and then. What is the remedy ?
No drug including Imodium should be taken without prescription. Imodium may cause distention and certain other side effects which are not very pleasant. If you are having frequent diarrhoea, depending on the duration you are suffering from it, infection may be causing it. My sincere advice to you would be not to go to a chemist and take antibiotics over the counter presuming it to be an infection. If the stool test shows a bacterial infection or another incriminating cause, please see a Gastroenterologist.
I m 62 years old, retired from bank service. I have been sick due to stomach problems. My stomach remains filled with gas. And sometime I feel pain that ranges from light to heavy.
If the pain is heavy it cannot be ignored and you should seek a proper medical consultation.
Why do I get so much gas/wind passing in the late evening and night. There is no bloating and my bowel movement is regular, once or sometime twice a day. I do eat fruits first thing in the morning and not with lunch or dinner.
Sometimes, there is over growth of gas forming abnormal bacteria in the small intestine, which causes increased gas production, especially if the diet is rich in legumes, beans and certain fruits rich in fructose, the sugar present in fruits. You may try taking a probiotic available over the counter. Natural yoghurt (curd) is another good source of probiotic (good bacteria).
I suffer from chronic constipation. Any permanent solution?
Constipation, by definition means passing stools infrequently, which may be hard. Bowel movements of less than three per week would qualify to be called as constipation according to Western standards. However, in India most often the patients refer to feeling of incomplete evacuation as constipation. If that is what you mean then I would suggest you should increase fibre in your diet, drink at least 2.5 to 3 litres of water a day. Exercise is a must. Please avoid any kind of laxatives including the so called ‘herbal’ laxatives touted as safe laxatives. Almost all of them are habit forming and eventually cause great harm to your digestive system.
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