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Digestive disorders are ailments which disrupt the digestive process. The digestion process what causes the nutrients that come from food and fluids to be broken down into smaller molecules so they can be absorbed into the blood and carried to the cells throughout the body. These disturbances can be caused by diet, disease or stress.
The digestive system includes the digestive tract and any organs that aid digestion, including the mouth, esophagus or throat, stomach, intestines, anus and rectum. Digestion begins in the mouth and is completed in the small intestine. Digestive disorders present with a variety of symptoms. These warning signs, or indicators, are signs that something is not right within the digestive system. They can include things like heartburn, gas, bloating, stomach pain or cramps, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.
Common digestive disorders include GERD, IBD and IBS. GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, is a chronic condition where the acid from the stomach backs up into the esophagus, or the food pipe. This disorder is also known as heartburn or acid reflux.
IBD stands for inflammatory bowel disease. This is a collection of inflammatory conditions affecting the colon and bowel, or the intestines. The colon is the last portion of the digestive tract where salts and water as extracted from the waste products before they are eliminated from the body. Irritable bowel syndrom, or IBS, is a blanket term for any problems that disrupt or cause discomfort in the digestive tract. Another common term for irritable bowel is spastic colon.
Digestive disorders are common. Symptoms can be caused by a change in diet or in high-stress times. Most digestive problems are caused by a disruption of the normal digestion process and are not serious. These types of disorders can be treated with over-the-counter medications such as antacids, changes to diet and stress management.
Digestive disorders, however, can be a sign of a more serious problem. Warning signs can include blood in the stool, severe abdominal pain, unintentional weight loss and heartburn not relieved by antacids. Any of these symptoms require a medical consult.
More serious conditions that result in digestive disorders can include stomach or colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer is cancer of the colon and rectum. Diverticular disease, where small pockets bulge out of the colon, can also cause digestive problems.
Hepatitis and stomach or duodenal ulcers can also cause digestive disorders. Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver. Ulcers, or open sores in the stomach or duodenum, can also cause symptoms. The duodenum is the first section of the small intestines. These types of digestive disorders require medical attention to treat and prevent further complications.
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