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Is Experiencing Swallowing Difficulty A Sign Of Cancer?

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January 19, 2021 Blog0

Having trouble swallowing can cause distress, whether from the frustration of not being able to eat and drink smoothly, or from choking or painful sensations. The medical name for a swallowing difficulty is dysphagia. Commonly, difficulty swallowing may occur when eating too quickly and food is not thoroughly chewed. However, persistent dysphagia may be a sign of a serious medical condition which requires treatment.

Experiencing recurring or ongoing swallowing difficulties could be a sign of some cancers such as esophageal cancer or stomach cancer. The tumour may block or narrow the food passage. It is best to see a doctor immediately to rule out the causes.

What causes swallowing difficulty?

There are muscles and nerves that help the body move food through the throat and esophagus. Swallowing difficulty may occur when these muscles and nerves are not working right. In other cases, swallowing difficulty may be caused by a physical obstruction, or pain during swallowing. Some conditions that cause dysphagia include:

  • Acid reflux and GERD: When stomach acid flows up from the stomach back into the esophagus, it can cause symptoms such as heartburn, stomach pain, ulcers, and difficulty swallowing. Having symptoms of acid reflux more than twice a week might be a sign of a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
  • Esophageal cancer: Esophageal cancer can happen when a malignant tumour develops in the lining of the esophageal. The deep tissues and muscles of the esophageal can be affected as the tumour grows. During the early stages of esophageal cancer, a person may not experience any symptoms. But as the cancer progresses, some may experience symptoms such as vomiting, heartburn, chronic cough, pain or difficulty swallowing, and food coming back up the esophagus.
  • Stomach cancer: Stomach cancer, also known as gastric cancer, is characterised by a growth of cancerous cells within the lining of the stomach. This type of cancer can be difficult to diagnose as people typically don’t show any symptoms during the early stages. Some of the most common symptoms of stomach cancer are nausea and vomiting, bloody stools, stomach pain, and difficulty swallowing.

When should I see a doctor for swallowing difficulty?

Encountering difficulty swallowing once in a while with no other symptoms is usually not a cause for worry. But you should get it checked out if dysphagia is repeated or prolonged, especially if accompanied by other symptoms, such as drooling, unexpected weight loss, heartburn, and coughing. Dysphagia that results in a person avoiding eating, skipping meals, losing weight or becoming malnourished is also reason to be concerned.

If you are having trouble breathing or think there might be something stuck in your throat, call a doctor immediately.

It is important to consult a doctor to determine the cause of your swallowing difficulty. Talk to your doctor about the symptoms you have and when they began. They will do a physical exam to check for any abnormalities or swelling in your oral cavity. There are a variety of tests they can perform to find the exact cause. Some tests include:

  • Barium X-ray: Use of X-ray to examine the gastrointestinal system
  • Endoscopy: A small camera attached to a long, thin, tube is inserted through the mouth to examine the throat, esophagus, stomach, and part of the small intestine
  • Manometry: A tube is inserted through the nose into the esophagus, which detects the pressure and strength of the esophageal muscles

Conclusion

It pays to be vigilant about your own health and any abnormalities. If a severe condition is the cause of your swallowing difficulty, getting treatment early is key. Your doctor can provide you with medication or recommend you the suitable treatments you need, such as surgery or chemotherapy.


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January 12, 2021 Blog

 

The liver is an organ that is part of the digestive system and sits right under the ribcage on the right side of your abdomen. Not many people realise the importance of the liver. In fact, the liver carries out multiple vital processes in the body each day. For example, it produces bile which aids the small intestine in breaking down and absorbing fats, cholesterol, as well as some vitamins. It also plays a pivotal role in filtering the blood in the body by breaking down compounds like estrogen and alcohol in the body.

With the liver’s many roles being crucial for the body’s wellbeing, it is critical that the liver is taken care of, especially for those who have liver disease. The current COVID-19 pandemic has, without a doubt, made it harder for those with liver diseases. However, this guide will introduce you to 3 tips on taking care of your liver so as to manage common issues like stomach pain or vomiting.

Reduce your alcohol intake
With the COVID-19 pandemic taking the world by storm, almost everyone, no matter their industry, is affected. More people are trying to adapt to the sudden switch of working from home. This has led to an increase in people turning to bad habits like smoking or drinking alcohol excessively.

Although it is acceptable to consume alcohol moderately, excessive consumption can be detrimental to the body. As the body metabolises alcohol, it converts alcohol into acetaldehyde, which is toxic. Normally, acetaldehyde will be further converted into acetate, and then water and carbon dioxide, for disposal by the body. However, overconsumption can slow down the metabolisation process, leading to an accumulation of toxic acetaldehyde in the body. This compound is responsible for much of alcohol’s negative impacts on the body. It can damage the liver and other nearby organs by causing inflammation and scarring.

One of the by-products of alcohol in the body are fat compounds, which can lead to a build-up of fatty deposits in your liver, inflammation, as well as a higher chance of liver cancer. Hence, it is best to limit alcohol consumption. One suggestion would be to replace that habit with a healthier activity like reading or even baking.

Don’t fall for fad diets
With more people staying home and not being able to visit the gym conveniently, staying in shape has been one of the main concerns for many. This has led to many looking up easier alternatives for staying in shape and falling for appealing fad diets. A fad diet is essentially a weight-loss plan or strategy that promises dramatic results. Fad diets typically come and go like trends, and the COVID-19 pandemic has seen the surge of fad diets like the fully liquid diet which is said to help in weight-loss.

However, such fad diet methods that cause your weight to fluctuate rapidly in short periods can put excessive stress on your liver. Most people enter into fad diets because of the promised dramatic results with little to no effort. However, the damage that it can cause your liver is often more harmful than beneficial. Instead of taking the easy way out with these diets, a healthier and more long-term alternative would be to implement healthy diets gradually and supplement it with regular exercise.

Commit to a balanced diet
One of the most common reasons for fatty liver disease is obesity. People who are above the optimal or healthy BMI range are at higher risk of other liver diseases or further affecting their current liver condition.

Therefore, you should aim to keep between the BMI range of 18.5 and 22.9. This can be achieved over time through regular exercise sessions and a healthy diet.

Conclusion
Although the COVID pandemic has caused an inconvenience for many, it should not stop you from taking care of vital organs like your liver. Especially during a time like this, it should be essential to visit your doctor for check-ups regularly as well apply the tips above in your daily activities.


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December 18, 2020 Blog0

Most people know the feeling of being bloated. Your stomach feels full, and your clothes feel tight around the midsection. It could simply be the result of eating too much during the holiday season or munching on lots of junk food. For most people, bloating is harmless as most cases can be treated at home. However, unusual cases of bloating could be alarming when it starts being painful or disruptive to your daily routine.

It is important to know the signs of abnormal bloating that could be a serious medical condition, as some may be life-threatening if not treated.

What is abdominal bloating?

Abdominal bloating happens when the gastrointestinal tract is filled with air or gas. Most individuals characterise bloating as feeling full, tight, or swollen in the abdomen. The tummy can also feel hard and painful. Bloating can sometimes be accompanied by frequent burping or abdominal rumbling.

Majority of the causes for bloating are not serious. Some of the common causes include diet, swallowing air, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and menstruation in ladies. But bloating can become serious when it starts to interfere with your ability to work and participate in social or recreational activities.

What are some home remedies for bloating?

The best treatments for bloating depend on the underlying cause of the symptom. In many cases, bloating can be minimised or even prevented by making a few basic lifestyle changes. Some things that may help include:

  • Taking over-the-counter medications for gas and bloating
  • Avoiding chewing gum
  • Limiting the intake of carbonated drinks
  • Eating slowly
  • Taking a laxative to relieve constipation

If the bloating does not subside or gets worse, it could be a sign that it’s time to consult a professional.

When should I see a doctor?

While bloating is common, abnormal cases of bloating that persists or is accompanied by other symptoms might be an indication of more serious conditions. You should consider seeing a doctor if you are:

  • Experiencing other chronic symptoms: If you’re experiencing bloating by itself, it probably isn’t a big deal. However, if it is persistent and comes along with other symptoms such as fever, vomiting, and bloody stools, make an appointment with your doctor immediately.
  • Having unexplained weight changes: It is important not to disregard bloating that is accompanied by significant weight loss or weight gain. Rapid weight changes could be a sign of something wrong hormonally.
  • Always feeling fatigued: Feeling fatigue constantly could be a sign of liver disease, which could be related to cancer, alcohol use, or hepatitis. If your bloating is due to liver disease, you might feel tired, bruise easily, or develop jaundice – a yellowish tinge to the skin and eyes.
  • Experiencing pain in the abdominal area: Pain and bloating could be a sign of fluid retention (ascites) or other blockages in the gastrointestinal system. Bowel obstruction is a dangerous condition that can occur, involving a blockage in the small or large intestine. This may come with other symptoms such as constipation.

Conclusion

If you notice that your abnormal bloating is accompanied by any of these signs, visit your doctor immediately. Be sure to mention all your symptoms and let your doctor know how long you have been experiencing them as these can provide important clues that guide diagnostic testing. Never ignore a bloated stomach as it could be a symptom of something more severe.


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