There have been several questions from our users about digestive disorders. With the help of Dr. Federica Furfaro, a specialist at the Centre for Chronic Inflammatory Bowel Diseases of Humanitas, we try to clarify gastro-esophageal reflux, irritable bowel, hiatus hernia and gastric pyrosis.


Can reflux cause abdominal discomfort and swelling?

A digestive disorder in patients with gastro-esophageal reflux is not necessarily related to the disease, it may be due to a slowdown in gastric emptying. It may be useful to assess whether there are any visible changes by performing an esophageal gastroduodenoscopy, and then assess whether a therapy that increases stomach emptying can improve the condition.


Is there an effective cure for reflux?

There are different therapies for gastro-esophageal reflux disease. The most widely used drugs are proton pump inhibitors (such as pantoprazole, esomeprazole, lansoprazole), but if reflux is not acid but basic, these therapies will not work. In patients who do not benefit from these drugs it may be useful to perform PH-impedance analysis to evaluate the type of reflux, the number of refluxes and the correlation between the symptoms and the actual presence of gastro-esophageal reflux.


Does turmeric work against reflux and hiatus hernia?

Hiatus hernia is an anatomical condition characterized by the passage of a portion of the stomach from the abdomen to the chest, through a hole in the diaphragm, the most common form is the hiatus hernia by slipping, with the rise of a small portion of the stomach. Food cannot cure this anatomical condition, which in most cases is completely asymptomatic. In some cases, however, the presence of the hiatus hernia may favor the development of a gastro-esophageal reflux and the patient may show specific symptoms.

Turmeric is a natural prokinetic substance, like ginger; both help motility of the upper digestive tract pathways and may improve symptoms of gastro-esophageal reflux.


Can gastro-protectors have a contraindication?

Gastro-protectors are very useful drugs in the treatment of many diseases: esophagitis, gastritis, and gastro-esophageal reflux disease. However, it has been shown that prolonged use can increase the risk of mortality, osteoporotic fractures, clostridium difficile infections and lead to a reduction in blood levels of magnesium and vitamin B12. Therefore, it is advisable to carry out the therapy for limited periods of time and, if necessary, in cycles, but not continuously, for the whole of one’s life, as unfortunately many patients do, often even without a specific indication.


Is there a relationship between irritable colon and the brain?

It seems that there is a direct correlation, on the other hand it is said that the colon represents our second brain. This is a bidirectional correlation because just as it is true that an altered psychological state (anxiety, depression) can affect intestinal function, it is also true that irritable bowel syndrome can compromise the quality of life of patients and therefore also their mental condition.


What are the symptoms of the irritable bowel syndrome?

Irritable bowel syndrome is a pathology characterized by abdominal pain, which can be continuous, cramp-like, occasional, accompanied by changes in intestinal regularity (diarrhea, constipation or alternate ancestors).


What to do in case of an irritable colon? What are the possible treatments?

Initially, it is essential to exclude inflammatory or infectious causes that may occur with the same symptoms. Therefore, it is possible to intervene with different therapies that act on pain, intestinal motility, intestinal bacterial flora (probiotics, antibiotics) and intestinal wall trophism (prebiotics).


What to eat in case of an irritable bowel syndrome?

This depends on the type of functional impairment the patient is reporting. In patients with irritable bowels with predominantly constipation, it is advisable to take fiber and drink about 2 liters of water per day. In patients with a predominantly diarrheal history, fibers should be reduced, as should fatty and whole foods.


What to eat in case of gastric pyrosis?

It is advisable to have a varied Mediterranean diet, it can be useful to have small and frequent meals, to reduce fats to a minimum (because they delay gastric emptying), to leave out irritating foods and those substances, such as mint, that reduce the tone of the lower esophageal sphincter or carbonated drinks. In addition to proper nutrition, it is helpful not to lie down until at least three hours have elapsed since the end of the evening meal.