Gastric and bowel diseases

Does your stomach hurt? Well, then you are far from alone. 25 percent of all Swedes have a more or less serious problem with their upper intestinal tract. Many times there is a simple explanation to the complaints and they disappear without treatment. But the pain may also be a symptom of a more serious problem, so it is important to investigate the problem, if there is no obvious reason for the symptoms.

Some diagnoses are based on the patient´s description of the symptoms, others need gastroscopy or x-ray.  The term “dyspepsia” covers several illnesses in the upper intestinal tract and includes symptoms as nausea, “heartburn”, and reflux diseases, which are often related to the patient´s food intake. Dyspepsia may also be a symptom of lactose intolerance, gluten intolerance, stomach ulcer or more serious diseases as stomach cancer or pancreas cancer.  Gastritis, which means inflammation of the mucous membrane of the stomach, is also a common condition. IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) as for example Crohn´s disease and ulcerative colitis, bring about symptoms from the intestines. IBD occurs mostly in the western world and Sweden is a high risk area with a prevalence that makes many consider it an endemic disease.

What causes the gastric problems?

Some of the causing factors discussed are stress, bacteria (Helicobacter Pylori), side effects of anti-inflammatory drugs, smoking, overweight and alcohol.  When it comes to the inflammatory bowel disease, the reasons are thought to be a combination of genetic factors, hyperactive immune system and environmental factors. The environmental factors, that are most likely to have a negative effect, are poor eating habits, stress, anti-inflammatory drugs and smoking again. An infection of the bowel is often the factor that sets the disease on. Stress increases the permeability of the mucous membrane, which makes it easier for bacteria to reach the immune system and set on the disease.

Conventional treatment of gastric problems

Drugs reducing gastric acid production are frequently used for treating dyspepsia. Unfortunately, they are used too freely and often without justification. Reports suggest a rebound phenomenon when using these drugs, which means recurrent and increased symptoms, when the cure is finished.  Side effects as tiredness, confusion, dizziness, diarrhea, gynecomastia and liver damage have been reported. 

Patients diagnosed with IBD are often treated with anti-inflammatory drugs but also with steroids, with side effects as high blood pressure and osteoporosis. Surgery is a relatively common procedure for those with IBD, a permanent ileostomy is necessary for about 10 % of those diagnosed with Crohn´s disease.

Treatment at Santa Monica

Since lifestyle factors are usually in some way related to several of the gastric and bowel diseases, at Santa Monica we try to give knowledge, inspiration and motivation for long-lasting changes of lifestyle. Our doctor, nurses, dietician and therapists work together to offer the best possible treatment protocol for each patient. Increased supply of nutrients is often necessary for those who have suffered from gastric diseases for a long period of time.

We use also different supplements to increase the amount of “friendly” bacteria in the intestines, reduce inflammation and improve the digestion and relieve symptoms. Facial reflexology, light therapy, massage and meditation are some of the therapies we use to increase the well being, reduce stress and promote relaxation. Read more about our different methods under Therapies.