Common Digestive Disorders

Digestive disorders are common ailments affecting millions of men, women and children around the world. You can suffer from such a disorder in case a faulty function takes place during the digestive process. This fault prevents some part of your digestive system from working like it normally does. The main function of the digestive system is to process all the foods and liquids you consume and then turn them into nutrients or energy required by the body. Alternatively, the food that cannot be digested gets converted to waste matter, which gets expelled from the body, when you have a bowel movement. However, in case there is a problem with the digestive system, this regular process cannot be carried out in the normal way. These factors that can cause your digestive system to malfunction are known as digestive disorders.

While some digestive disorders are rather mild and resolve naturally, without any medical intervention, others may be severe and could require immediate or long-term medical attention. Most of us are aware of common digestive disorders such as heartburn or Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), constipation, diarrhea, gastritis, hemorrhoids, Irritable Bowel Disease (IBS) and gallstones. However, there are many other types of digestive disorders too, which include Celiac disease, peptic ulcers, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and Diverticular disease. In fact, colon cancer, rectal cancer and stomach cancer are also a part of digestive disorders, but they are the more serious type. The causes and symptoms of the different types of digestive disorders vary. The severity of the digestive condition may also vary, as it is based on factors like the type of disorder, its causes and the patient’s overall health condition.

Almost all of us have suffered from a digestive problem at some point or the other. In some cases, these problems are a one off occurrence, which usually lasts for a short period of time, like a couple of days or so. However, in several instances, digestive problems can be chronic, where they last for a long period of time. Some chronic digestive disorders can also be recurrent; their symptoms may come and go.

In many instances, it is quite easy to get relief from the uncomfortable symptoms of a digestive order, using simple home remedies, herbs and over the counter medication. However, it is important to consult a doctor and undergo a medical test to identify the type of disorder, as well as its possible causes, so that the appropriate treatment can be adopted. Therefore, you should visit your doctor, as soon as the symptoms of digestive disorders become evident.

Symptoms of Common Digestive Disorders

The symptoms for common digestive disorders are bound to differ, based on the type of digestive problem you are suffering from.

Heartburn or GERD Symptoms: This is a chronic digestive disease, which occurs when the stomach acid or bile flows back into the food pipe. This backwash of the acid aggravates the lining of the esophagus, triggering off symptoms like:

  • Regurgitation of sour liquid or food
  • Dry cough
  • Chest pain
  • Sensation of a lump in the throat
  • Sore throat or hoarseness
  • Dysphagia, which is difficulty in swallowing
  • Burning sensation in the chest, which could spread to the throat

Constipation: This disorder refers to the absence of regular bowel movements. You could have constipation in reaction to something you ate, as a one-off occurrence, but many people suffer from chronic constipation. The symptoms of constipation include:

  • Experiencing a feeling of rectal blockage
  • Passing stools that are very hard
  • Having less than three bowel movements in a week
  • Straining excessively during a bowel movement
  • Pain in the abdominal area
  • Feeling a sensation of incomplete evacuation after passing stools

Diarrhea: This is a very common condition, characterized by loose and watery stools, which occur more frequently than normal. Some of the other symptoms of diarrhea include:

  • Bloating in the abdominal area
  • Fever
  • Pain and severe cramps in the abdomen
  • Presence of blood in the stool on rare occasions
  • Bloody or black stool in severe and serious cases of diarrhea

Gastritis: This term actually describes a whole group of conditions, which lead to inflammation in the lining of the stomach. Some of the common symptoms of gastritis include:

  • Sensation of fullness in the upper abdomen after eating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain or a burning ache in the upper abdomen

Hemorrhoids: Also known as piles, hemorrhoids are inflamed and swollen veins in the anus and lower rectum. In most instances, this problem occurs as a result of chronic constipation and is characterized by symptoms like:

  • Bleeding during the bowel movement
  • A lump near the anus, which is painful and sensitive
  • Pain or discomfort
  • Leakage of feces
  • Swelling around the anal area
  • Irritation and itchiness in the anal area

Irritable Bowel Disease: (IBS) This disorder affects the large intestines and triggers off symptoms like:

  • Mucus in the stools
  • Alternate bouts of constipation and diarrhea
  • Flatulence or excess gas
  • Cramps and pain in the abdomen
  • Bloated feeling

Gallstones: Hardened deposits of digestive fluids that accumulate and form in the gallbladder are known as gallstones. Given below are some of the common symptoms of gallstones:

  • Sudden and intense pain in the upper right portion of the abdomen
  • Pain in the right shoulder
  • Backache, which is worse between the shoulder blades

Even though these are some of the common disorders, they need to be treated by a doctor at the right time. Therefore, it is important for you to consult your medical health care provider as soon as any of these symptoms become evident.

Causes of Common Digestive Disorders

Being a complex system, the digestive tract can be affected by many internal, external and environmental aspects. Given below are some of the most common factors that could lead to a digestive disorder:

  • Heredity: Just as in the case of any other health problem, your genetic make-up could be one of the causes or a digestive disorder. You are more likely to suffer from a digestive problem in case one or both your parents, or any close family members was prone to digestive disorders.
  • Exposure to Toxins:One of the downsides of living in modern society is the amount of pollution your body is exposed to on a daily basis. Excess exposure to mercury, food additives, radiation, solvents and chemicals could further affect your health adversely. Your body uses up larger amounts of energy to detoxify itself, and therefore, the amount of resources left for digestion may be less than what is required, which could lead to a digestive disorder
  • Use of Drugs: Most drugs affect the digestive organs, as well as the process of digestion. In fact, you may have already experienced heartburn, indigestion or other digestive problems, because of the consumption of certain medicines. Some of the most common drugs known to cause indigestion include aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, antacids, NSAIDs and antihistamines. Illegal drugs like cocaine and marijuana could have a worse effect on the digestive tract. Antibiotics can have a very severe effect on the digestive system, as they kill a high amount of naturally occurring bacteria that help digestion
  • Stress: Any kind of stress, be it mental, physical or emotional, could lead to poor digestion and consequently digestive disorders. Factors like fear, worry, tension and anger all have a negative effect on the efficiency of your digestive system.

In addition to the factors mentioned above, eating habits and poor diet can also have a severe effect on your digestive system.

Remedies for Common Digestive Disorders

There are many treatments and medicines available for curing common digestive disorders. However, many of the common and milder disorders, like constipation, diarrhea, gastritis, hemorrhoids, and so on can be easily managed with the help of a few home remedies. Given below are some of the most highly recommended herbal and natural remedies for common digestive disorders:

  • Drink fresh Aloe Vera juice, which is very high in vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients. This remedy is said to relieve diarrhea, constipation as well as other gastrointestinal problems.
  • Probiotics, which are microbial organisms, are usually found in the digestive tracts of most human. They are often referred to as friendly bacteria, as they improve the digestive process in the body. Consume probiotic yogurt at regular intervals during the day, in order to alleviate digestive disorders.
  • Different types of tea can be very helpful in alleviating digestive problems and their symptoms. Some of the most effective tea varieties include ginger tea, chamomile tea, green tea and peppermint tea.
  • Use bitter digestive stimulants and herbs like black cohosh, angelica, yarrow, skullcap, dandelion and small quantities of wormwood. Other helpful herbs include mint, lavender, fennel, rosemary, juniper, valerian, lemon balm and yarrow to name a few.

Diet for Common Digestive Disorders

A poor diet and unhealthy eating habits are some of the main causes of digestive disorders. Therefore, in order to prevent such problems, it is essential to follow a healthy diet at all times. Many health experts recommend the BRAT Diet, for dealing with certain digestive problems. The BRAT diet comprises Bananas, Rice, Applesauce and Tea (or Toast). However, you could consume other foods too, especially if you are suffering from chronic digestive problems.

Eating a high amount of fresh fruits and vegetables can increase the amount of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients in the body, which eases the digestive process and reduces the risks of digestive problems. Consumption of whole grains and cereals is also important, as it adds fiber to your digestive tract. Fiber facilitates the movement of the waste matter in the digestive tract and adds bulk to it. Therefore, high-fiber foods help alleviate constipation.

A diet for digestive disorder is incomplete without an adequate intake of fluids, especially water. Make sure that you drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water through the day.

Suggestion for Common Digestive Disorders

There are a few types of digestive problems that do not really get better, in spite of following a diet or using home remedies. Therefore, if you notice digestive symptoms that last for more than a couple of days, it may be best for you to visit a doctor at the earliest and undergo the required treatment.

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