Digestive Disorders: What You Need to Know
Digestive disorders encompass a wide array of conditions that affect the gastrointestinal tract. These disorders vary in severity, from minor annoyance (such as mild heartburn) to potentially life-threatening illness (such as a perforated ulcer).
Here are seven common digestive disorders to be aware of:
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter relaxes at the wrong times, allowing acid from the stomach to enter the esophagus. One possible cause of GERD is a hiatal hernia, a protrusion of this same sphincter and the upper portion of the stomach into the chest cavity.
2. Gastritis and Gastric Ulcers
Gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining) and gastric ulcers (breaks or open sores in this lining) are most commonly caused by infections or the use of certain medications.
3. Duodenal Ulcers
Ulcers can also occur in the duodenum when stones that form in the gallbladder keep bile out.
4. Crohn’s Disease
Chrohn’s Disease is an inflammatory disorder that primarily affects the small intestine; it may also damage the large intestine and any other part of the digestive system.
5. Ulcerative Colitis
This inflammatory disease affects only the large intestine. Diarrhea occurs when waste products move through the large intestine too quickly; constipation results when this movement is too slow.
Diverticula (small pouches) can bulge outward through weak spots in the wall of the large intestine in a condition called diverticulosis. Infection or inflammation of these diverticula is called diverticulitis.
These are clusters of swollen veins, and are thought to result from increased pressure in the veins of the rectum and/or anus.