Many people misunderstand Gastrointestinal issues, including the definition. Gastrointestinal is an abbreviated term referring to any conditions or diseases that affect digestion. This article explains the umbrella term and the most common issues people experience within their gut.
So, What Are We Talking About When We Say Gastrointestinal Issues
Gastrointestinal disorders are illnesses affecting the gastrointestinal tract, including all organs of the tube from the mouth to anus, including stomach aches and pains, irritable bowel syndrome, reflux disease, ulcers, and cancer. These issues are typically aggravated by anything that interferes with the function of digesting foods and absorbing nutrients.
The First Five Gastrointestinal Issues Are:
1. Heartburn - is a common condition that causes chest pain or discomfort after eating or sleeping due to acid reflux into the esophagus.
2. Constipation - occurs when bowels do not move through the digestive tract within three days of a typical transit time. Some people have more frequent bowel movements, while others can go three days without action.
3. Diarrhea - is an increase in what you usually experience in your stools or lack of bowel movements. There are two common types, chronic and acute, defined by cause and length of time your experience symptoms.
4. Inflammatory Bowel Disease - is when the immune system seems to attack the gastrointestinal tract and is a chronic disease that causes inflammation of the digestive tract. The most common types are ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.
5. Hernia - a hernia is a protrusion of an organ through the surrounding tissues that typically contain it. As a result, a part of the abdominal wall that would usually be holding something in place now has nothing to support it, and that's why the stomach or intestine protrudes out from under the skin, where they can cause pain and discomfort.
The Next Five Gastrointestinal Issues Are:
6. Diverticulosis - the presence of sac-like pouches along the colon pushing through weak spots in the colon wall. Putting pressure on our digestive system causes all sorts of wear and tear, resulting in inflammation, bleeding, infections, and other health problems.
7. Pancreatitis - pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas that occurs when digestive enzymes cause damage to this organ which is located behind your stomach in the top left part of your abdomen.
8. Gallstones - are made up primarily of cholesterol when there is too much cholesterol or bilirubin in bile, causing problems with bile flow, leading to stone formation in the gallbladder. The stones can vary in size from smaller than a grain of sand to larger than a golf ball and can range in color from yellowish-green like bile-colored (the most common form) to dark brown (when bilirubin predominates).
9. Liver Disease - liver disease occurs when the liver is damaged and doesn't function normally. It can be caused by viral hepatitis (liver infection) or excessive drinking, obesity, or other factors like genetic predisposition. Alcoholic cirrhosis is an example of chronic liver damage due to alcohol abuse, resulting in scarred and hardened tissue replacing healthy liver cells.
10. Stomach Cancer - Stomach cancer originates in the stomach, also known as gastric carcinoma. It develops from specific types of cells within the stomach lining itself. The symptoms are often vague, so signs are only discovered once cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
Common Gastrointestinal Issue Symptoms
The symptoms depend on where you have your gut problems; symptoms can include heartburn, nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting blood or food that looks like coffee grounds, upper abdominal pain or tenderness, indigestion or bloating after eating, difficulty swallowing, weight loss over time, and fatigue.
There are various treatments available, including medications to reduce symptoms by acid-blocking drugs, surgery to remove part of the stomach or treat problems with the esophagus, and chemotherapy. No matter what is bothering your gut, seeing a Gastroenterologist and getting diagnosed is key to finding relief.
When Is My Gastrointestinal Issue A Problem?
These gastrointestinal issues may become serious if they don't resolve after several days with strict adherence to medical treatment and guidelines. If you cannot find relief from managing your symptoms at home, it is time to see your gastroenterologist.
GI Associates Can Help Keep Your Gut Healthy
GI Associates can help with a wide variety of gut conditions. Contact us today if you'd like to see a physician or have more questions. We treat all gastrointestinal issues and disorders with quality, comprehensive care.