Digestive diseases can be mild or severe, and range from gastroesophageal reflux disease to cancer. Common digestive disorders include Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Crohn's disease, celiac disease, lactose intolerance, and hiatal hernia. Chronic diarrhea can be an indication of a more serious problem that requires medical intervention. Chronic constipation is generally defined as having fewer than three bowel movements a week for three weeks or more.
Gastroenteritis is caused by a viral or bacterial infection in the intestine, such as E. coli or salmonella. Hemorrhoids are common in people age 45 and older, and can be caused by straining during bowel movements, family history, or spending too much time on the toilet. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is long-term inflammation in the digestive tract, with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis being the two most common types.
The cause of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is unknown, but thought to be related to the interaction between the brain and gut. IBD is thought to be caused by a faulty immune system that responds incorrectly to environmental triggers. Common causes of constipation include dehydration, lack of fiber in the diet, and certain medications and health problems that can slow down the digestive system.
What are the Symptoms of Digestive Disorders?The symptoms of digestive disorders vary depending on the type of disorder.
Common symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, gas, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and changes in appetite or weight. Other symptoms may include rectal bleeding, fatigue, fever, joint pain, and skin rashes.
How are Digestive Disorders Diagnosed?If you experience any of the symptoms of digestive disorders for more than a few days, it is important to see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment. Your doctor will ask about your medical history and perform a physical exam.
They may also order tests such as blood tests, stool tests, imaging tests (such as X-rays or CT scans), endoscopy (a procedure that uses a thin tube with a camera to look inside your body), or colonoscopy (a procedure that uses a thin tube with a camera to look inside your colon).