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Private Health Treatments for Digestive Problems

By: Kathryn Senior PhD - Updated: 2 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
Digestion Private Healthcare Private

Private hospital treatment is available for a wide variety of health disorders. If you have problems with digestion, an eating disorder or problems with the lower bowels, going private can be a better option than waiting for NHS treatment.

Digestive Problems and Private Treatment

Digestive problems such as indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), suspected ulcers, unidentified stomach or abdominal pain are rarely an emergency but can lead to a considerable reduction in quality of life. Many people with private heath insurance choose to turn to a private hospital to seek treatment as waiting times can be much shorter than with the National Heath Service (NHS).

Private medical treatment can include a complete life history, an assessment of diet, an investigation of possible food allergies, endoscopy investigations of the oesophagus and stomach, obesity treatments and tests for possible signs of bowel cancer.

Food Allergy and Food Intolerance

Tests are available to private patients to assess which components of their diets may be causing symptoms of ill health. Allergens are introduced in very small amounts into surface injections into the skin. Any reaction observed over the next few days suggests a food intolerance that may require foods containing that component to be cut out of the diet to see if symptoms improve. Private dieticians will spend time looking at what you eat, and give you a personalised diet plan to follow, perhaps with a daily symptom diary to monitor improvements.

Investigating Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Having symptoms of abdominal discomfort, intermittent diarrhoea, bloating and a feeling of indigestion is a common collection of symptoms. Irritable bowel syndrome has no definite cause - it can be due to a problem with diet generally, a sensitivity to one particular food, or a physiological reaction to stress. GPs and other NHS health professionals tend to be short on time to deal with minor ailments that need intensive support and lifestyle change and waiting lists for treatment can be long. Private healthcare offers a speedier, more convenient route to eliminating other more serious causes of the symptoms, and to discussing coping strategies, dietary changes and other self-help measures, as well as potentially useful medical treatments.

Obesity Treatment

Although it is possible to get dietary advice and help with losing weight in the traditional ways from the NHS, it is rare for operations involving gastric bands or stomach stapling to be offered free under the health service. Obesity treatments are much more common in the private healthcare system - because patients are paying for the procedure, they are not limited to those in greatest medical need. After a medical assessment, the procedure can take place in the UK, or in a private hospital in Europe or beyond.

Treating Anorexia or Bulimia

Eating disorders are becoming more common in the developed, industrialised world, ironically at the same time that obesity reaches epidemic proportions. Bulimia, which involves a poor body image, low self esteem and a constant binging and vomiting behaviour, can occur in men as well as women. It leads to poor health, poor complexion, teeth problems and lowered social confidence. Treatment within the NHS system is possible, but is probably quicker and more tailored to the individual in the private healthcare setting, Anorexia, in which people just eat very little and literally starve themselves, can also be treated using a combination of psychotherapy and practical dietary management. Treatment is again aimed at raising self esteem and reducing poor body image.

Bowel Problems

Routine tests to check up for early signs of bowel cancer are available through private healthcare systems. The faecal occult blood test to check for tiny amounts of blood in faeces is available on the NHS or in private healthcare. Going private can mean that the follow up investigations - usually a colonoscopy, in which the inside of the large bowel is examined by an endoscopy - can be done more quickly.

If polyps or suspected cancerous changes are discovered, it is sometimes possible to remove some tissue, or the whole offending polyp as part of the investigation, or a follow up treatment can be arranged. If bowel cancer is identified, private healthcare can supply the necessary surgery and any chemotherapy or radiotherapy necessary but this is extremely expensive and usually only possible if you have medical insurance.

Keeping the Digestive System Healthy

Whatever your age, health advice from the public or private health service would always be to keep your bowel and digestive system working well by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and eating lots of natural fibre and - probably something that few of us manage - drinking around 8 pints of clean, fresh water daily.

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