If you suffer from frequent gastric pains, there are simple lifestyle changes that you could be making to bring much-needed relief.
When the protective mucus layer of the stomach becomes weak, the stomach walls are exposed to digestive acids. These acids cause painful irritation of the stomach walls called chronic gastritis. This condition develops slowly as the stomach walls are repeatedly inflamed by these highly-acidic digestive juices.
While chronic gastritis often responds to treatment, it can cause ulcers or even cancer within the stomach. The Mayo Clinic points out that sufferers of chronic gastritis, or nonulcer stomach pain, may feel: nausea, belching, bloating, fullness, or a burning sensation in their upper abdomen or lower chest. This pain may be relieved by antacids or certain foods, like milk.
Chronic gastritis can be caused by bacterial infection, certain autoimmune diseases, or acid reflux. You are at a higher risk for chronic gastritis if you: smoke; drink alcohol or caffeine excessively; or take medicines like aspirin, naproxen and ibuprofen over a long period of time. Over-the-counter antacids or prescription acid-control medications are often recommended to ease the pain and frequency of chronic gastritis.
According to the Mayo Clinic, your doctor may also recommend over-the-counter remedies, proton pump inhibitors, medicines to strengthen your esophageal sphincter, or antibiotics. Herbal remedies like peppermint and caraway oil can also bring relief. However, many sufferers can also find relief by making simple lifestyle changes.
The Health Xchange recommends these lifestyle changes for the relief of chronic gastritis:
-Eat 5-6 smaller meals throughout the day. This reduces the load on your digestive tract and can lessen the bloating you feel after meals. Try to eat at the same time every day and don’t skip meals. This keeps your gastric juices at a regular level and trains your stomach to only release these juices when there is food in your stomach to be digested.
-Avoid eating foods that may irritate your stomach. Identify the foods that trigger your chronic gastritis and remove them from your diet. Avoiding spicy, acidic, fatty, and fried foods, as well as carbonated and caffeinated beverages, can also help to keep your symptoms under control.
-Chew your food. Eating slowly and thoroughly chewing your food makes it easier for your stomach to digest what you have eaten.
-Stop smoking. Smoking increases the amount of acid in your stomach, which can lead to episodes of chronic gastritis.
-Drink responsibly. Alcohol thins the lining of your stomach and makes it more vulnerable to attack from digestive acids.
-Relax. When you experience periods of high stress, your body produces and releases more digestive juices into your stomach. Practice relaxation techniques to reduce stress, such as breathing exercises or yoga. Participation activities or hobbies with your family or friends can also lower your stress levels.
The Mayo Clinic also recommends regular exercise for the relief of chronic gastritis, or nonulcer stomach pain. After talking with your doctor, try to be physically active 30-60 minutes most days. However, do not exercise right after you eat as this can trigger episodes chronic gastritis.
SOURCES: http://www.healthxchange.com.sg/healthyliving/SpecialFocus/Pages/Ease-Gastric-Pain-With-Simple-Lifestyle-Changes.aspx;http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stomach-pain/DS00524; Image courtesy of Ohmega1982 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net