9 Myths of Digestive Disease

Digestive health is complex area of medicine and many people have misconceptions on what is normal or healthy and what is a concern, as well as how to manage these concerns. Below are 10 myths that San Juan Endoscopy seeks to clarify for you.

Celiac Disease (or Gluten Allergy) is Rare and Always Begins in Childhood

This disease can affect children and adults equally. About 1 in 133 people have some severity of celiac disease. Symptoms include gas, diarrhea, bloating, abdominal pain, rashes, and even bone thinning. What’s worse is this disease can be difficult to decipher from other diseases that manifest the same symptoms. These individuals need to adhere to a strict diet of gluten-free foods, staying away from rye, barley, and wheat especially. Over time, consuming gluten with the disease can block nutrient absorption.

Using Enemas to Treat Constipation Repeatedly Is Not Harmful

While the evidence is not completely clear, some studies reveal that long term use of enemas can cause the colon to stop contracting and functioning properly on its own. While people think of them as more natural than laxatives, it is not normal to rely on either for regularity on a continued basis. If you cannot have a normal bowel movement without regular use of either of these methods, you need to see your doctor.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease is caused by Psychological Issues

IBD is a general term for both Chron’s disease and ulcerative colititis. The exact cause is unknown, but bacteria or a viral infection are possible causes. Stress can make the symptoms of these conditions worse, but it does not actually cause the development of IBD.

Ostomy Surgery Causes Infertility and Impotence

This is simply not true. This surgery removes part of the colon or small intestine, and the bowel is attached to an opening in the abdomen. A bag or internal pouch connected to a catheter is then used to collect stools. While impotence in men and impaired sexual function in women and men can occur temporarily after the procedure, normal function most often returns. While it does not physically affect these conditions permanently, individuals may have body image concerns which can contribute to ongoing sexual issues until they learn to adjust to their body after this surgery.

Cirrhosis of the Liver is Only Caused by Alcohol Abuse

Scarring of the liver, also known as cirrhosis, can be caused by alcoholism, but it can also be caused by many other infections and injuries, ranging from Hepatitis (B and C), fatty liver disease, drug reaction, and more. Regular monitoring for cirrhosis following the recovery from infections or when symptoms first present themselves can catch it early and facilitate the best course of treatment.

Stomach Ulcers are a Result of Eating Spicy Food or Stress

Stress and spicy food only worsen symptoms of ulcers that already exist. Stomach ulcers are caused by anti-inflammatory drugs or bacteria called Helicobacter plylori. When stomach acid is reduced, the bacteria are killed, and the use of the medication causing the ulcer is stopped, the ulcer begins to heal. Cancer can cause ulcers as well.

If You Don’t Have a Bowel Movement Every Day, You are Irregular.

The speed and frequently of which the digestive system moves varies with each individual, and can vary within a person based on the quantity and types of food they in a given time period. It is normal to have as few as three per week. You should see a doctor if the pattern that is normal for you changes suddenly or for an extended period of time (a couple weeks).

Diverticulosis is a Serious Problem

Actually, if you’re over 60, there’s a good chance you have this, but many people don’t experience obvious symptoms. This condition is defined as weak spots in the wall of the colon, which increase with age and it’s often found with a colonoscopy. While complications can cause infections and bleeding, less than 10% develop these complications.

Smoking Relives Heartburn

Because smoking irritates and can damage the esophagus, it actually makes heartburn worse. Smoking cigarettes relaxes the LES and allows stomach contents to back up into the esophagus.