Gastroenterology &
Hepatology Center

  • Room 2006, 20/F, Crawford House 70 Queen’s Road Central, Central
都市胃病成因 (上)

Common Stomach Illnesses (Part 1)

People living in Hong Kong often have a tight life, busy work, and a lot of social events. Though, making much money does not equal having a good diet, as many metropolitans have different degrees of stomach problems. The most common problems are having stomach gas, bloating, heartburn and similar to other urban diseases, lifestyle habit are one of the main causes of illness. Our fast-paced life, irregular and the habit of wolfing down the food, all these contribute to adverse effects on the health of the stomach. In addition, mental stress, lack of exercise, often sitting and working, eating food with high fat and calories and irritating foods also worsen the condition of our digestive system. Common gastric diseases in Hong Kong include acid reflux, gastric diseases caused by H. pylori, and indigestion.

“Acid reflux” refers to the reflux of excess gastric acid from the stomach to the esophagus. Patients usually have a feeling of heartburn (that is, a burning pain in the chest). In severe cases, stomach acid can flow back to the throat, causing hoarseness, coughing or asthma symptoms, sour mouth, or bad breath. There are also patients who mistakenly think that they have heart disease because of chest pain. The causes are closely related to lifestyle habits, including overeating, lying on your back or sleeping shortly after meals, obesity, smoking and drinking, etc. These factors lead to relaxation of the sphincter muscle of the lower esophagus and increased abdominal pressure, which triggers acid reflux. Without proper treatment, the esophagus may become ulcerated and narrowed. This may also lead to precancerous lesions (Barrett’s esophagus) and esophageal cancer. If the symptoms often happen at night, it may cause long-term insomnia and other emotional problems.

H. pylori is a type of bacteria that only lives in the stomach wall, and about half of the world’s population has been infected. It is believed that the infection started in childhood. Stomach disease caused by H.pylori can be mild or severe. It can cause chronic gastritis, gastric ulcer, duodenal ulcer and even gastric cancer. Fortunately, the incidence of the diseases caused by this bacterium is only about 10%, that is, most infected people are asymptomatic. With the improvement of the living environment and hygiene in Hong Kong, the infected population has dropped from 50% in the past to about 30%, and the infection rate of the younger generation should be lower.

Patients with functional dyspepsia may experience bloating, stomach pain, stomach gas or loss of appetite, though there may not be any sign of gastrointestinal diseases nor structural issues for the stomach. The cause of functional dyspepsia is unknown for patients but it occurs frequently in urban people. It is likely to be related to the pace of life, poor eating habits, smoking, alcoholism, lack of exercise and mental stress.