Our digestive system starts right from our mouths and ends at our anus. Its goal is to process the food and drink we consume and derive energy and nutrients from it to supply to our body. The energy derived is used to make our body function and repair our tissue. The digestive system also deals with the remaining food waste after we’re done extracting all we need from it.
Digestive disorders cause millions of people around the world to fall ill. The symptoms for these vary. These disorders range from minor to major such as heartburn, nausea after overeating to colon cancer.
Diarrhea, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, abdominal swelling, flatulence, abdominal pain, digestive tract bleeding, loss of appetite and constipation can all be symptoms for a digestive disorder. Some digestive disorders affect more than one part of our digestive system.
Digestive diseases can broadly be sub-divided into four sub-types. These are –
·Infections- Hepatitis A, Peptic ulcers, Viral gastroenteritis, food poisoning and such.
·Inflammatory and auto-immune conditions – Pancreatitis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohn’s disease and so on.
·Functional or structural problems – Liver cirrhosis, anal fissure, constipation, gallstones and more.
·Cancers – Liver cancer, oral cancer, pancreatic cancer and such like.
Some common digestive disorders
·Gallstones – Gallstones are hard solid deposits that form in your gall bladder. Too much cholesterol and waste in your bile can lead to the formation of gallstones if your gallbladder doesn’t empty well. If these gallstones manage to block the ducts that lead from the gallbladder to the intestines, you can experience sharp pains in your upper-right abdomen. Medication can dissolve these gallstones. If not, the only option is surgery.
·Crohn’s Disease – Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease(IBD). It commonly affects the part of your body that connects the small colon to the bowel. No distinct cause for the condition has been determined, but it is widely accepted that family history and genetics are to blame. Symptoms for Crohn’s disease are rectal bleeding, diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss and fever. Treatment is administered according to the symptoms experienced. It can range from immunosuppressants, topical pain relievers and even surgery.
·Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) – After a heavy meal or at night, you may sometimes experience a burning sensation in the middle of your chest. It’s called an acid reflux and is caused by your stomach acid backing up against your oesophagus. Now, having an occasional heartburn or acid reflux is nothing to worry about. But if you notice that these symptoms occur as commonly as twice a week, you may be suffering from GERD. Symptoms for GERD include – persistent bad breath, nausea, tooth erosion, pain in the upper abdomen and chest, heartburn or in general, trouble swallowing or breathing. The symptoms can be treated by avoiding the food/drinks that trigger this reaction or taking over-the-counter antacids. Some cases may require a course of medication or surgery.
Most of us are too embarrassed to talk about our digestive disorders. But there is no reason we should suffer in silence when it is so prevalent in society. Make yourself aware of digestive disorders and their respective remedies so you’re prepared to fight it, when it catches you unawares.