Digestive disorders are a group of conditions that occur when the digestive system doesn't work as it should. Digestive problems refer to any gastrointestinal disorder that occurs in the digestive tract, which is also called the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. There are six common digestive disorders that can affect people of all ages. These include gallstones, celiac disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis, and diverticulitis.
Gallstones are hard deposits that form in the gallbladder, a small pear-shaped sac that stores and secretes bile for digestion. According to the American Gastroenterological Association, nearly a million Americans are found to have gallstones every year. Gallstones can form when there is too much cholesterol or waste in the bile, or if the gallbladder doesn't empty properly. When gallstones block the ducts that lead from the gallbladder to the intestines, they can cause sharp pain in the upper right part of the abdomen.
Treatment for gallstones may include surgical removal of the gallbladder or a procedure in which a health professional will remove gallstones from the bile duct. Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition that causes the body to attack the intestinal lining if a person eats foods that contain gluten. An estimated 1 in 133 Americans (approximately 1 percent of the population) has celiac disease, according to Beyond Celiac (formerly the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness). The group also estimates that more than 80 percent of people with celiac disease don't know they have it or have been misdiagnosed with a different condition.
The main treatment for celiac disease is to follow a gluten-free diet. Common alternatives to gluten include brown rice, quinoa, lentils, soy flour, cornmeal, and amaranth. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic digestive disease that affects 20 percent of Americans, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). If you experience persistent heartburn, bad breath, dental erosion, nausea, chest or upper abdominal pain, or have problems swallowing or breathing, see your doctor.
Treatment for GERD may include lifestyle changes such as avoiding certain foods and eating smaller meals more frequently. Medications may also be prescribed to reduce stomach acid production and help relieve symptoms. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is another common digestive disorder that affects up to 45 million people in the United States, according to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders. The signs of irritable bowel syndrome can vary widely, from having hard, dry stools one day to loose, watery stools the next day.
Swelling is also a symptom of IBS. Treatment for IBS may include dietary changes such as avoiding certain foods and eating smaller meals more frequently. Medications may also be prescribed to help reduce symptoms such as abdominal pain and bloating. Ulcerative colitis is another inflammatory bowel disease that can affect up to 907,000 Americans, according to the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA).
The symptoms of ulcerative colitis are very similar to those of Crohn's disease, but the part of the digestive tract affected is only the large intestine, also known as the colon. Medications can suppress inflammation and can also help eliminate foods that cause discomfort. In severe cases, treatment for ulcerative colitis may include surgery to remove the colon.Diverticulitis is a condition in which small pouches called diverticula form anywhere where there are weak spots in the lining of the digestive system, but they are most commonly found in the colon. By age 50, about half of people have diverticulosis, according to the American Gastroenterological Association.
However, in about 5 percent of people, these pouches become inflamed or infected. Symptoms include fever, chills, nausea, and abdominal pain. Obesity is a major risk factor for diverticulitis. Treatment for diverticulitis may include antibiotics and dietary changes such as avoiding certain foods and eating smaller meals more frequently.Gastritis is inflammation of the lining of the stomach caused by infectious agents such as Helicobacter pylori (H.
Pylori), aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as Ponstan, and alcohol. Gastritis treatment depends on its cause and may include antibiotics and acid suppressants or discontinuing alcohol consumption and medications responsible for gastritis.Peptic ulcers are sores that develop on the lining of the stomach, lower part of esophagus or first part of small intestine usually caused by inflammation due to H. Pylori infection. The most common symptoms of peptic ulcers are upper abdominal discomfort or pain and bloating along with weight loss, loss of appetite nausea dark or bloody stools and vomiting.Digestive disorders encompass a variety of illnesses that range from mild to severe.
Common digestive disorders include gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), cancer, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), lactose intolerance, hiatal hernia gastritis and peptic ulcers.