Gastrointestinal Drugs – Part 1
Considering the average diet of most Americans, it is no wonder the country is prone to stomach chaos, indigestion woes, gas attacks and ulcer pains. Doctors suggest healthier changes in diet for better gastrointestinal performance, but instead of giving up bad habits, the majority of people continue to give their stomachs good reason for upset. Rather than choosing good nutrition, they depend on gastrointestinal drugs to calm their troubled insides only to continue taking poor dietary choices. It is an endless cycle plagued with a plethora of potential problems from unpleasant side effects to irreversible damage to one of the body’s most vital systems. Gastrointestinal drugs – such as antacids and anti-flatulents, laxatives, stomach acid blockers and ulcer drugs – may help the junk addict rationalize a substandard diet, but the body is not so easily fooled by these chemical dangers.
Antacids and Antiflatulents (Anti-gas)
An antacid is a common follow-up to a disagreeable meal, carelessly consumed as if it were a mere after dinner mint. However, the contents of antacids deserve cautious consideration. Many antacids feature aluminum hydroxide, an ingredient used to treat stomach acid and other antacids contain a combination of aluminum hydroxide, magnesium hydroxide and simethicone. Unfortunately, aluminum can cause bone damage, and the magnesium found in antacids can cause severe diarrhea. Doctors strongly discourage older adults with severe kidney disease from using magnesium antacids. Other adverse side effects caused by antacids ingredients include painful urination, dizziness, irregular heartbeat, mental changes, muscle weakness, diarrhea, vomiting and stomach cramps.
Not only found in antacids, the combination of magnesium hydroxide, aluminum hydroxide and simethicone is also taken as an antiflatulent (anti-gas) drug. But, according to physicians, there is no evidence that simethicone alone or combined with other ingredients effectively treats excess gas. In fact, physicians believe that treating excess gas is by and large a futile process. Suffers from excess gas may actually have a bloated feeling from overeating or discomfort from eating the wrong food. In this case, no anti-gas drug will help because the problem has nothing to do with gas. In general, the passing of gas is no cause for medical concern, but rather, a cause to improve diet.
Every year, Americans spend $725 million on laxatives (constipation 1). As with antacids and antiflatulents, many people take laxatives far more frequently than necessary. This is dangerous for several reasons. First, laxatives can cause lasting damage to the intestines and can interfere with the body’s use of nutrients. Second, they can be habit forming. Of taken for long periods, they inhibit the body’s natural ability to digest food properly, causing consumer dependency. The unpleasant side effects are numerous and scientists are continually discovering additional causes for concern. For example, the laxative ingredient danthron was recently recalled in the United States because of its cancer-causing possibilities. According to physicians, laxatives should not be used to “clean out the system” or to promote intestinal regularity, a process the body generally controls naturally.
Unfortunately, even those with healthy diets are not immune to occasional constipation. Although it may be bothersome, according to physicians, constipation itself usually is not serious. For most people, dietary and lifestyle improvements can lessen the chances of constipation. A well-balanced diet that includes fiber-rich foods, such as unprocessed bran, whole-grain breads and fresh fruits and vegetables, is recommended. Drinking plenty of fluids and exercising regularly also help to stimulate intestinal activity.