Even though the majority of people avoid discussing it, having digestion problems is typical.
But there’s no need to endure your suffering in quiet. Here’s a comprehensive look at nine of the most common digestive disorders, their signs and symptoms, and the best current treatments. Do not hesitate to contact a healthcare provider if you believe you may be experiencing one of these problems.
1. The disease of gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)
You could have a searing ache in the center of your chest if you have acid reflux, a condition where stomach acid backs up into your esophagus. According to Neville Bamji, MD, a gastroenterologist with New York Gastroenterology Associates and a clinical instructor of medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, it frequently happens after meals or at night.
Even though occasional cases of acid reflux and heartburn are common, experiencing these symptoms on a regular basis or at least twice a week may indicate that you have GERD, a chronic digestive disease that affects 20% of Americans, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Consult your doctor if you frequently have heartburn, poor breath, tooth erosion, nausea, pain in your chest or upper abdomen, or difficulty breathing or swallowing.
The majority of people experience relief by staying away from the foods and drinks that aggravate their symptoms, as well as by using over-the-counter antacids or other medications that lessen stomach acid production and esophageal inflammation. Additionally, making lifestyle adjustments like raising the head of the bed, standing up straight after eating, avoiding wearing clothes that is too tight, and giving up smoking can be beneficial. However, some GERD cases necessitate more drastic measures, such as medication or surgery.
In your gallbladder, a little, pear-shaped organ that collects and secretes bile for digestion, hard deposits are known as gallstones can develop. According to the American Gastroenterological Association, gallstones are discovered in close to a million Americans each year. Gallstones can develop if your bile contains an excessive amount of cholesterol or trash, or if your gallbladder doesn’t drain completely.
Sharp abdominal discomfort in the upper right side of your body can result from gallstones blocking the ducts from your gallbladder to your intestines. Gallstones can occasionally be removed with medication, but if that doesn’t work, surgery to remove the gallbladder is the next option.
3. Celiac Illness
According to Beyond Celiac, there are approximately 1 in 133 Americans, or 1% of the population, have celiac disease (formerly the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness). Additionally, according to the organization, more than 80% of those who have celiac disease are either unaware of their condition or have received a false diagnosis of another illness.
Significant sensitivity to gluten, a protein present in wheat, rye, and barley, is known as celiac disease. When you consume gluten, your immune system launches an attack and damages your villi, which are finger-like projections in your small intestine that aid in nutrient absorption. Children may experience symptoms such as weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain, and bloating. Adults may also experience anemia, tiredness, loss of bone density, depression, and seizures.
But some individuals might not show any signs. Celiac illness can only be managed by abstaining entirely from gluten. Brown rice, quinoa, lentils, soy flour, maize flour, and amaranth are common gluten substitutes.
4. Cohn’s illness
Inflammatory bowel disease, is a class of digestive disorders, including Crohn’s disease (IBD). The terminal ileum, which connects the end of the small bowel and the beginning of the colon, is the area of the GI tract that is most frequently affected by Crohn’s disease. According to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, up to 780,000 Americans may have Crohn’s disease (CCFA).
Though the exact causation of the disease is unknown, genetics and family history are likely to have some influence. Abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, weight loss, and fever are the most typical Crohn’s symptoms. According to Dr. Bamji, the type of treatment depends on the symptoms and may entail surgery, topical painkillers, and immunosuppressants. Avoiding flare-up-causing foods such as dairy, carbonated drinks, alcohol, coffee, raw fruit, raw vegetables, red meat, and fatty, fried, spicy, or gas-producing meals can also help.
5. Crohn’s disease
Another inflammatory bowel illness that could afflict up to 907,000 Americans is ulcerative colitis, according to the CCFA. While ulcerative colitis only affects the large intestine, generally known as the colon, it shares many of the same symptoms as Crohn’s disease.
Sores or ulcers can form in the lining of the colon if your immune system interprets food or other substances as foreign invaders. Visit your doctor if you have frequent, urgent bowel motions, diarrheal pain, blood in your stool, or stomach cramps.
Eliminating foods that make you feel uncomfortable as well as taking medication to reduce inflammation may be helpful. Surgery to remove the colon may be necessary as part of ulcerative colitis treatment in extreme situations.
6. Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Is your digestive system agitated? Do you have gastrointestinal discomfort or pain at least three times every month for a few months? Another typical digestive disorder is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which could be the cause.
According to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, up to 45 million Americans have IBS, which affects between 10 to 15 percent of the world’s population. IBS symptoms can range greatly, from having loose, liquid stools one day to hard, dry stools the next. Another sign of IBS is bloating.
Although it is unknown what causes IBS, nutrition plays a major role in treating its symptoms, including eating low-fat, high-fiber meals and avoiding typical trigger foods (dairy products, alcohol, caffeine, artificial sweeteners, and foods that produce gas). It has also been demonstrated that the low-FODMAP diet, entails avoiding foods high in a group of carbohydrates known as FODMAPs (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols), which lessens the symptoms of IBS.
Additionally, probiotics from live yogurt, which include friendly microorganisms, may improve your health. Some patients find that cognitive behavioral therapy or low-dose antidepressants are effective therapies for IBS symptoms because stress can cause them.
Hemorrhoids, a relatively common ailment, may show up as bright red blood in the toilet bowl when you move your intestines. In actuality, the NIDDK estimates that hemorrhoids affect 75% of Americans over the age of 45.
Hemorrhoids are an itchy and painful irritation of the blood vessels at the end of your digestive tract. Chronic constipation, diarrhea, straining during bowel motions, and a deficiency in fiber in your diet are some of the causes.
Increase your fiber intake, up your water intake, and exercise to treat hemorrhoids. The symptoms of hemorrhoids may be temporarily relieved with over-the-counter lotions and suppositories. If at-home remedies are ineffective, speak with your doctor; sometimes a hemorrhoidectomy is required to eliminate hemorrhoids surgically.
Diverticula, which are tiny pouches that can form anywhere there are weak places in the lining of your digestive system, are most frequently discovered in the colon. Diverticulosis is relatively prevalent among older folks and rarely creates complications if you have diverticula but no symptoms. According to the American Gastroenterological Association, by the age of 50, nearly half of the population has diverticulosis. Diverticulitis is a disorder in which the pouches become inflamed or infected in roughly 5% of patients. Fever, chills, nausea, and stomach pain are some of the symptoms. A significant risk factor for diverticulitis is obesity.
Antibiotics and a clear liquid diet are used to treat mild diverticulitis so your colon can heal. Diverticulitis may result from a low-fiber diet, therefore as part of your therapy, your doctor may advise you to consume a diet high in fiber, including whole grains, legumes, and vegetables.
You could require surgery to remove the unhealthy portion of your colon if you get severe attacks that happen regularly.
9. Anal Fissure
Anal fissures are minute, oval-shaped tears in the lining of your anus, the very last part of your digestive tract. The signs and symptoms are similar to hemorrhoids, including bleeding and pain following bowel movements. Fissures can be brought on by hard stools and squeezing, but also by soft stools and diarrhea.
For this typical digestive issue, a high-fiber diet that results in well-formed, thick stools is frequently the most effective course of action. Pain can be relieved by anal sphincter muscle relaxants, topical anesthetics, and sits baths; however, persistent fissures may necessitate anal sphincter muscle surgery.