Digestive diseases and disorders can be challenging to understand. They are often grouped together and referred to as digestive system diseases However, there are many different types of these disorders. Some of them are more common than others.
This article will discuss some of the most common digestive diseases and their associated disorders. Afterwards, you will learn about the causes, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of these diseases. Read on to learn more.
What Is Digestion and Why Is It Important?
The digestive system is made up of the stomach, intestines, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, and small and large intestines. These are the organs that break down and digest food. The nutrients from food get absorbed into the body through the intestines.
The digestive system is the pathway the body uses to absorb nutrients from the food we eat. The nutrients the body uses to build and maintain itself are absorbed through the intestines.
The digestive system also produces hormones and other chemicals that affect different systems in the body. The nervous system, for example, is stimulated by chemicals like serotonin that are produced in the digestive system.
The hormones produced in the digestive system are responsible for regulating many important functions, including hunger, metabolism, and the immune system.
What Are the Different Types of Digestive Diseases?
There are many different types of digestive diseases. The two main categories of digestive diseases are inflammatory and non-inflammatory.
Inflammatory digestive diseases
They are caused by inflammation. These diseases include Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
There are many different reasons why a person may develop an inflammatory bowel disease. These reasons include genetics, diet, bacteria imbalance, and infections.
Non-inflammatory digestive diseases
They are diseases that do not involve inflammation. Conditions like celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome are examples of non-inflammatory digestive diseases.
What Are the Causes of Digestive Diseases?
The causes of digestive diseases vary between inflammatory and non-inflammatory diseases. In some cases, the causes of digestive diseases are unclear.
In inflammatory diseases, an imbalance in the intestinal bacteria is primarily responsible for the symptoms. This bacteria plays a crucial role in digestion and immune system function.
The balance of good and bad bacteria in the intestines is what helps maintain healthy gut bacteria and prevents inflammatory digestive diseases.
Symptoms of Digestive Diseases
The symptoms of digestive diseases vary, depending on the type of disease and the affected area in the digestive system. The symptoms can sometimes be subtle and may not be obvious to the naked eye.
Since the digestive system consists of many different organs and systems, symptoms can vary depending on where in the digestive system they appear. The following are some of the more common symptoms of digestive diseases:
This is a burning sensation in your chest that often occurs with a bitter taste in your throat or mouth. The pain might be worse when you’re lying down or after you eat. Occasional heartburn usually isn’t concerning, but if you’re experiencing heartburn several times a week, you might have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Other signs and symptoms might include coughing, difficulty swallowing and chest pain.
A sharp or dull pain that lasts more than a few minutes, gets worse with activity, goes away and then returns, or varies in intensity.
Chest pain combined with other symptoms such as dizziness, fainting, sweating, shortness of breath or nausea may be a sign of a heart attack. If you think you are having a heart attack call 911 and get help immediately.
Intestinal Gas (Belching, Bloating, Flatulence)
Flatulence, commonly referred to as farting, is passing gas from the digestive system out of the back passage. There are certain foods and drinks that can cause more gas to be produced than others such as fizzy drinks and foods such as cabbage, beans and onions.
People who eat large amounts of these types of food can often be found passing much more wind than those who don’t consume as much of them.
This refers to bowel movements that are infrequent or hard to pass. It is a common cause of painful defecation. Severe constipation includes obstipation (failure to pass stools or gas) and fecal impaction (inability to pass stools because of hardened feces).
Diarrhea is loose, watery stools that occur more frequently than usual.
Vomiting is the forceful emptying (throwing up) of the stomach’s contents through the mouth. Vomiting empties the stomach and often makes people with nausea feel considerably better, at least temporarily.
Vomiting does not always indicate a serious condition — it may be the body’s way of ridding itself of harmful substances from food or drink (e.g., alcohol or poison).
- Hepatic: jaundice, increased liver size, increased bilirubin, elevated alkaline phosphatase, increased Gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT)
- Pancreatic: unexplained weight loss, pancreatic enzymes, decreased appetite, increased stomach acid, increased bile, increased uric acid
- Gallbladder: gallstones, increased bile acids
Diagnosis of Digestive Diseases
The diagnosis of digestive diseases depends on the symptoms and the history of the disease.
Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and may conduct a physical exam of your digestive system. You may be asked to provide a sample of your stool for testing.
If the cause of the symptoms is unclear, X-rays, endoscopies, or biopsies may be performed to look for signs of damage. In some cases, a Gastrointestinal Pathologist may be called in to perform further tests.
Treatment of Digestive Diseases
The goal of treatment for any digestive disease is to improve your health as much as possible.
This will reduce your symptoms and the chance of long-term complications. Treatments for digestive diseases vary depending on the cause.
In inflammatory diseases, the goal is to reduce the inflammation in the intestines.
Anti-inflammatory medications and sometimes corticosteroids can be used to reduce inflammation. In some cases, surgical removal of the intestine is necessary.
In non-inflammatory digestive diseases, treatment focuses on managing the symptoms. This can include dietary changes, medication, and increased hydration.
Prevention of Digestive Diseases
The best way to prevent digestive diseases is to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle. This will include staying hydrated and getting enough exercise.
Staying physically and mentally active keeps your immune system strong and can reduce your risk of developing certain diseases.
Maintaining a healthy weight can also reduce your risk of digestive diseases. A healthy diet includes whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and lean proteins.
A healthy diet can reduce the risk of digestive diseases, including inflammatory and non-inflammatory diseases.
The digestive system is a complicated and important part of the human body. Diseases and disorders that affect the digestive system are common.
There are many different types of digestive diseases, and each one has different symptoms and causes.
The symptoms of many digestive diseases are similar, and it can be difficult to tell which disease you have. This makes it important to see your doctor if you experience gastrointestinal symptoms.
A doctor can determine the cause of your symptoms and make a treatment plan that will help you get better.