Pioneer Health

‘Rise in GI diseases’

‘Rise in GI diseases’

Dr Ajay Kumar talks to Sangeeta Yadav about the alarming rise in gastrointestinal diseases due to lifestyle change, how to prevent it and some success case studies

What is the present scenario of gastrointestinal (GI) disease in India?

Diseases like diarrhoeas, hepatitis, typhoid, TB of the intestinal tract etc are still prevalent, but what is alarming is the rise of lifestyle diseases like irritable bowel syndrome, Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s and non-alcoholic fatty liver and cancers of the food pipe, colon and liver, pancreas and gall bladder.

What are the reasons?

It could be due to regular intake of fastfood, and irregular food habits due to erratic working hours, lack of exercise, enough stress, etc. Decreasing fibre in the diet contributes to GI disorders. Habits like tobacco, pan masala has continued to cause more GERD, dyspepsia, oral and food pipe cancers. The unclean water and sanitation can cause waterborne diseases which typically involve the GI tract and liver predominantly. Spicy food can also be more irritant for GI tract.

What are the early signs?

Unexplained weight loss, anaemia, gastrointestinal bleeding, unexplained chronic liver disease or abdominal pain. People prone to increased GI disorder should undergo annual checkups for Liver function tests, lipid profile, screening colonoscopy etc.

What are the preventive measure?

The key to healthy digestive tract is clean water, clean food and habits like small frequent meals, avoiding excess of oily, spicy, cola drinks, tea and coffee etc. Regular exercise, increased fibre intake etc are also helpful in long-term. During pregnancy and growing ages, one should be very careful with certain foods. During summers, it is better to take more of liquids.

What are the home remedies being used for treatment?

Common examples are different mixtures including fibre, trifla, amla etc for constipation, baking soda for acidity, use of fennel, ajwain for indigestion etc.

Can you share success case studies of gastroenterology diseases?

The four examples will suffice:

Oral rehydration solution: a simple, cheap, effective means of rehydration in diarrhea patients by understanding the basic physiology of water absorption has helped save many lives, especially in children.

Discovery of H pylori by Australian scientists as an etiological agent for peptic ulcers, has helped in preventing recurrences of this disease.

Prevention of Hepatitis B by vaccination has helped reducing the prevalence of this fatal infection in the large population.

Cheap, short treatment of hepatitis C by oral medicines is helping to eradicate it by reducing the disease burden in the society.

Is the treatment cost-effective?

Treatment becomes cost-effective by reducing the prices of drugs and technology used in treating diseases. Indian pharma has always done best in this area by providing cheaper drugs. The prime example is newer drugs for Hepatitis C being provided at real cheap rates in the Indian market as compared to the west. Same way, some of the instrument companies are working to cut down the costs of the Endoscopes, accessories, stents etc for the Indian market.



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