The digestive system, also known as the gastrointestinal tract (GI), is an intricate and extensive part of the body. It stretches from the mouth, all the way to the rectum. The system is made up of the esophagus (food tube), the stomach, large intestines, small intestines, the liver, pancreas, and the gallbladder.
It is the primary point of entry for most of the food substances that get into the body, and it carries out digestion, which is essential for breaking down food into nutrients. The body then uses these nutrients for energy, growth, and cell repair. The GI tract is not a passive system and therefore has the capability to sense and react to the substances that pass through it. Due to the different types of food that we take and the reactions taking place therein, the digestive system is prone to malfunctions.
Digestive issues are simply disorders of the digestive tract. Some can be mild while others can be severe. The high risk conditions need prompt medical attention, and if not attended can progress into chronic illnesses. It’s therefore, very important to understand these disorders so that you are able to keep your health in check. Some of the common problems are discussed below.
Some Common Digestive Disorders
This condition occurs when your digestive system, for some reason, can’t tolerate certain foods. It’s different from the normal allergies and does not cause hives or respiratory problems, as it only affects digestion. It has symptoms such as a headache, diarrhea, irritability, bloating, gas and vomiting.
An example of food intolerance is Lactose intolerance, whereby patients lack the enzyme responsible for digestion of lactose, which is mostly found in dairy products.
Chest Pain: GERD
This is a condition trademarked by a burning sensation in the middle of the chest, accompanied by some pain. It’s an occasional occurrence for many adults and occurs when stomach acid backs up into your esophagus, a condition known as acid reflux. It often happens after acidic meals, especially at night.
Though heart burns are common occurrences, a more frequent occurrence might indicate gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a chronic condition that can interfere with your daily life and damage your esophagus. Its symptoms include a dry cough, sore throat, chest discomfort, sour taste in mouth and swallowing difficulties.
Over-the-counter drugs can be taken to deal with heartburn, but cases of GERD require stronger treatments such as medication or surgery.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
This is a type of chronic swelling which can affect a number of parts of the digestive tract and cause some general digestive ailments like abdominal pains and diarrhea. Symptoms include incomplete bowel movement, night sweats, fatigue, loss of appetite and in severe cases, rectal bleeding.
This is where a person is diagnosed with little pebbles in the gall bladder. These deposits are primarily made of cholesterol and bile salts. These small stones do not necessarily require treatment in most people. However, in some cases it may necessitate the removal of the gall bladder.
Other Common digestive disorders include;
- Celiac disease
Some digestive issues can be quickly resolved, while others require medical attention by a gastroenterologist, a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating digestive diseases. Some serious signs of digestive issues include;
- Continuous vomiting
- Blood in stools
- Abnormal sweating
- Severe abdominal cramps and sudden, unintentional weight loss.
If you experience some of these signs, you should make an appointment with a doctor immediately, to prevent cases of severe GI disorders.