Infections and Inflammations
An infection is the condition of multiplication of parasitic organisms or microorganisms within the body. An inflammation is the reactions that occur in the affected blood vessels and adjacent tissues in response to an injury or abnormal stimulation caused by a physical, chemical, or biologic agent. Many people use the terms interchangeably since they have several symptoms in common and usually are treated similarly.
Appendicitis :: Pancreatitis :: Hepatitis :: Cholecystitis
Oesophagitis :: Peritonitis
Alternative names: Indigestion and Heartburn
The term 'indigestion' is a layman's term and is used to cover the symptoms of a few different medical conditions.
Medical conditions that are often described as 'indigestion' and which have 'indigestion' as a symptom are:
- Heartburn (gastro-oesophageal reflux);
- Non-ulcer dyspepsia (when you have symptoms of an ulcer but no sign of ulcer on investigation);
- Food intolerance, e.g. lactose intolerance;
- Bloating and flatulence; and
- Aerophagia (swallowing excessive amounts of air).
Many people with indigestion suffer in silence, sometimes for years, receiving little or no medical treatment apart from over-the-counter antacids.
While these are very effective in medicating heartburn, there are now many more medications available, which can provide perfect symptomatic relief.
There is also a greater awareness that acid reflux which causes the heartburn may damage the lining of the oesophagus and increase the potential for serious health problems due to the process of chronic inflammation.
It is becoming increasingly important to treat your symptom of heartburn less casually and discuss the prospects for treatment with your doctor. If your symptoms have started recently or long standing symptoms have recently become worse you should have an endoscopy.
For patients with severe symptoms or complications of gastro-oesophageal reflux, laparoscopic fundoplication is an effective surgical technique that usually improves symptoms and avoids the need for lifelong medication.