Category Stomach Pain

Gastric pain or appendicitis? Here’s how to tell

Abdominal pain can stem from a myriad of issues. Previously, I wrote about the difference between gastric pain and a stomach ulcer, in which the latter can stem from recurring gastric pain or gastritis if left untreated. Recently, I’ve been receiving a number of younger patients with bad abdominal pain and many were not able to pinpoint what exactly that pain was — though several of them thought it was gastric pain or pain caused by gas. After some tests, we found out what they were experiencing was actually appendix pain, or appendicitis.

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How do I differentiate gastric pain from a stomach ulcer?

Many stomach conditions often share the same symptoms — a dull or gnawing, burning pain in the upper part of the belly, nausea, heartburn and so on. More often than not, we’re inclined to link our abdominal pain with stomach flu or gastric pain, partly because our population is used to having recurring gastric pain attacks. That and no one would actually suspect they have a stomach ulcer — at least for the majority of my patients when I give them a diagnosis.

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What happens if I get recurring gastric pain?

I’ve been asked multiple times, “Doc, is it bad if I always get gastric pain? Is having frequent gastric pain normal?” Well, the answer is no. You might think the answer to that is obvious, but many are actually unaware of the health implications frequent gastric pain brings. As a general surgeon in Singapore, I’ve noticed that the cases of gastric pain are rising, and I can only credit that to our busy lifestyles and irregular eating habits.

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Colorectal cancer in women: Could you be mistaking your abdominal discomfort for premenstrual syndrome (PMS)?

Both women and men are at risk of developing colorectal cancer. Although men have a slightly higher risk than women (38.2% chance in men and 27.2% chance in women), it is harder to detect colon cancer in women as the symptoms are often dismissed as gynaecological or menstrual issues. These include abdominal bloating, discomfort and gas. As a trained specialist, it is relatively easy for me to distinguish between some colorectal and gynaecological symptoms, but many female patients tend to overlook those warning signs and avoid going to the doctor entirely.

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How to tell if your abdominal pain is appendicitis

When it comes to abdominal pain, appendicitis usually isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Many would automatically assume the discomfort for a bout of food poisoning, since the symptoms of both conditions are pretty similar. But unlike food poisoning, appendicitis usually rapidly worsens in a matter of hours and is considered a medical emergency.

As a general surgeon in Singapore, I’ve seen cases where patients ignore the pain or try a wait-and-see approach only to be faced with a life threatening situation. Don’t let that be you — here’s how to tell if a stomach ache is actually appendicitis and what to do should you be diagnosed with the condition.

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Normal vs. Abnormal bowel movement: What does your poop say about your health?

Your bowel habits isn’t the nicest and most socially appropriate topic to talk about, but it’s a huge part of our functioning body and a greater indicator of your health than you might think. When I see patients, I usually try to get a gauge of their bowel movement to assess their colon health — how often are they pooping? Is the process difficult?

Although there is no fixed rule on how often a person should poop, generally pooping anywhere from three times a day to three times a week is normal. Pooping also shouldn’t be a painful process. If you frequently experience bowel movements that are painful to pass or result in lots of cramping after, you should see a doctor as you could have a condition such as ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or Crohn’s disease. Also, while it’s normal to experience episodes of constipation or diarrhoea occasionally, they should not be a consistent part of your stool pattern.

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Gastric pain: A doctor’s perspective on when to be worried

In medical terms, gastric pain is used to describe upper abdominal pain or pain just right above the belly button and below the ribs. It is often confused with stomach pain. While most pain experienced in the upper abdomen indeed arises from the stomach, some of the pain may originate from other organs like the bile duct, small intestine, gallbladder, pancreas or liver. In such cases, it may signal something more serious, such as kidney stones or the presence of a stomach ulcer.

How do you tell if your gastric pain is caused by a bigger underlying problem, and when should you consult a doctor? Here’s my take.

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Stomach cancer: What to know about this silent killer

According to the World Health Organisation, cancer accounts for about 9.6 million deaths, making it a leading cause of death worldwide. Stomach cancer, or gastric cancer, is one of the most common cancers; in 2018, there were 1.03 million cases and 783,000 deaths in the same year. It is a disease we should be concerned about, especially since it is more prevalent in Asia. In Singapore, stomach cancer is the 6th most common cancer for Singaporean men and 8th for women. This means about 1 in 50 men will develop stomach cancer in their lifetime.

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Is GERD triggered by more than just our eating habits?

Acid reflux is a normal process where acidic content of the stomach flows up the esophagus, causing a burning sensation in the upper stomach or chest. It is common for people —including myself— to experience acid reflux from time to time. However, frequent reflux can irritate the lining of the esophagus, giving rise to a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

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Common signs of an unhealthy gut and how to fix them

Our digestive tract contains about 300 to 500 different species of bacteria — some harmful, and some necessary for a healthy body. We term these bacteria collectively as gut microbiomes. Many doctors who specialise in gut health agree that having a wide variety of good bacteria can provide benefits like enhance your immune system and improve symptoms of depression. Several studies done in the past two decades also demonstrate the link between gut health, autoimmune diseases, cancer and more. Simply put, if you have a bad gut, it can take a toll on your entire body.

These days, I’ve been noticing a trend in young people having gut problems, especially among the working class. I credit this to stress, lack of sleep and eating too much processed food; these facets of modern life can damage our gut microbiome.

How can you tell if you have an unhealthy gut? Here are some telltale signs.

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