Launching a discussion on digestive problems and gastrointestinal disorders may seem out of place in the presence of acquaintances, but complaints about digestion are real health issues that require attention. Every year, many people rush to hospitals and clinics due to a wide array of symptoms caused by stomach problems.
What you can do right now is to learn more about the most common problems with the digestive system. Most of these diseases require lifestyle changes not only over the counter drugs.
Here’s a list of the most common digestive health problems that affect almost every person on the planet.
1. Burning Chest Pain: Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease and Heartburn
Almost every person knows about gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. This chronic disease happens when stomach acids or food, flows back to the esophagus. The reflux irritates the lining of the esophagus and results to GERD.
Acid reflux and heartburn are two conditions that could indicate GERD. Acid reflux is the backwash of stomach acids. Heartburn is the burning sensation below the breastbone and in the upper abdomen area. Heartburn does not have anything to do with the heart but the feeling can be similar to a heart attack.
Although it’s normal to experience both, they could indicate GERD when the symptoms occur twice a week. This is also the case when they cause damage to the esophagus and affects your daily life.
There are antacids and over the counter drugs for people with GERD. Needless to say, the best solution is a change in lifestyle.
People with GERD need to stick to a diet that excludes trigger foods. A person with GERD should avoid coffee, soda, alcohol, chocolate, citrus, and tomatoes, to name a few.
These people are also advised against smoking and overeating. Losing weight is also ideal for those who are overweight. Stress management is another activity that these people should do. Stress can increase stomach acids so managing it is a must to keep acids under control.
2. Sharp Pain in the Upper-right Abdomen: Gall Stones
Gallstones are hard deposits in the gallbladder, the small organ just below the liver that serves as the liver’s bile storage. Doctors rarely diagnose gallstone formation at early stages. Often, people only realize they have gallstones when the deposit blocks a bile duct. The pain that ensues is hard to ignore and there’s an urgent need for medical attention.
Potential causes for gallstone include weight, genes, diet and gallbladder malfunctions. You are prone to gallstones when you are pregnant, diabetic, or obese. People taking hormone pills and cholesterol medication are also at risk.
In some cases, these stones may require gallbladder removal. Although hopeful, the procedure comes with certain risks. In fact, many people complain of having digestive problems after gallbladder removal. These complications include temporary diarrhea, inability to digest fatty foods, intestinal injury, and constipation.
Given how tiresome they are, you should try to prevent gallstones. The best way to do it is to stick to a healthy diet. Don’t follow diet fads requiring less than 800 calories in your diet. You should stick to a high-fiber, low-fat diet.
Eating raw food and whole grains should also be part of your new diet. Don’t make a sudden change in your diet though since this could trigger gallstone formation. Using about two tablespoons of olive oil in a day could also decrease the risk of having gallstones.
3. Gluten Sensitivity Digestive Issues: Celiac Disease
Some people cannot digest products containing gluten. Gluten is a form of protein found in some grains that people with Celiac disease cannot tolerate.
Celiac disease is both an autoimmune and digestive disorder. When these people consume gluten, their system attacks the protein as if it is a foreign invader. This leads to intestinal damage.
Since nutrients are absorbed in the stomach lining, people with this disease cannot get enough nutrients from their food. Even if they have a healthy diet, their body could not use those nutrients.
A person with Celiac disease should be on a gluten-free diet for the rest of his or her life. Villi, the hair in the stomach lining that is responsible for nutrient absorption, heals in just six months. After the villi recovers, the body get back on track. However, the symptoms that come with it could return should that person add gluten to his or her diet again.
In severe cases, a person gets the required nutrients to the body through an IV fluid. Since their system could no longer repair itself, it’s necessary to transfuse nutrients to the body.
Gluten-free diets are life changing but people with Celiac need to make this change to stay healthy.
4. Chronic Autoimmune Digestive Disorders: Crohn’s Disease
Even when there have been many leaps in the field of medicine, practitioners still lack knowledge on Crohn’s disease. This condition is hereditary although the cause remains unknown. This is often a disease of the young since diagnosis often happens before the age of 30.
This is one of the digestive problems in children. Kids who have this disease face unique problems such as weaken the bones, delay puberty and stunt the bones.
Here the body’s immune system treats harmless food, virus or bacteria in the gut as foreign invaders. So, people who have this disease experience joint, eyes, skin, and mouth inflammation. The presence of food or bacteria in the gut may cause inflammations that could be potentially fatal.
5. Large Intestine and Colon Inflammation: Ulcerative Colitis
Symptoms of this disease include flare-ups that include belly cramps, dehydration, and urge to empty colon, weight loss, and loss of appetite. There is still no cure for ulcerative colitis. The symptoms come and go without warning and may not be back for years.
This disease happens when the white blood cells perceive bacteria in the colon as foreign invaders. This inflames the lining of the large intestines.
Food does not cause or cure ulcerative colitis. Maintaining the right diet may prevent symptoms from getting worse.
If you are lactose intolerant, try to stay away from dairy products. Stay away from spicy and high fiber foods may be ideal and try to stick to soft and bland foods. To ensure that you will get enough nutrients, a low-fiber, high-calorie, high-protein diet may be best.
This disease has an active and remission period. The inactive stage could last for weeks but it can take years before it comes back.
A diet high in both protein and calories is ideal for people with this disease. Eating meals regularly and adding a snack or two between each meal helps you get sufficient nutrients from food. Exercise and taking the prescribed mineral and vitamin supplements could go a long way in managing this disease.
6. Persistent Digestion Disorders: Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Considered as one of the most common reasons for stomach discomfort, a lot of people are intimately familiar with irritable bowel syndrome or IBS. There’s a wide array of symptoms related to IBS including diarrhea, constipation.
The cause of IBS is still unknown. Needless to say, experts seem to agree that it is due to the gut’s increased sensitivity and a problem with the digestive system.
Other angles such as stress and digestive problems are still under consideration since symptoms seem to worsen when patients are under emotional stress.
The right diet plays a vital role in managing IBS. You also need to avoid fried and processed food, caffeine, alcohol, chocolate and fizzy drinks since they are common IBS triggers. Adding probiotics to your diet through supplements like Digestive Science IBS Relief System may also be help.
7. Swollen Rectal Blood Vessels: Hemorrhoids
A lot of people suffer from hemorrhoids. Not everyone wants to talk about bloody piles, though. Sometimes, the blood vessels located in the lower part of the rectum becomes swollen and irritated which leads to bleeding.
Fortunately, what you eat makes a difference when you have hemorrhoids. Sticking to a diet that is rich in fiber is good. You should also stay hydrated since this softens the stool and helps you avoid constipation.
While hemorrhoids often go away in a few weeks, they can be so painful that you may need to visit a doctor.
8. Muscle Tearing in the Lining of the Anus: Anal Fissure
The anal sphincter, the lining of the anus, is so thin that it is susceptible to tearing. This may result in bleeding. It is common in people between 20 to 40 years old.
Anal fissure may be due to poor blood supply and too much pressure. The risks of getting anal fissures become lower as you grow older. You can prevent this by maintaining a healthy diet.
Try to load up on high fiber food and pay attention to proper hydration. You should also avoid constipation. This should be your priority to allow those muscles to heal faster.
9. Chronic Injury to the Colon’s Small Blood Vessels: Diverticulitis
Although diverticula can form in any part of the digestive system, they are more common in the colon. Diverticulitis happens when these pouches suffer from inflammation and result to bleeding. Abdominal pain, fever, and rectal bleeding accompany this condition.
Alternating constipation and diarrhea may result from this condition. You may also have chills or fever.
Antibiotics could help those pouches heal. To allow the colon to recover, maintaining a liquid diet would be ideal. There are also suspicions that diverticulitis is due to a low fiber diet. This is why doctors recommend a diet that is high in fiber to people suffering from this condition.
10. Digestive Fluid Imbalance: Peptic Ulcers
Peptic ulcers result from sores and ulcers in the stomach lining. Recent studies show that fluid imbalance in the duodenum and the stomach lead to ulcers.
This is one of the gastrointestinal problems from excessive alcohol consumption and tobacco use. Caffeine and stress may also worsen ulcers.
Ulcers heal without the need for medication. But you should take note of certain symptoms that indicate that the condition is serious such as bleeding. This is more common in older people although they can happen to anyone irrespective of age.
To get relief from these ulcers, you should eat a healthy diet. Avoid foods that could make this condition worse. Maintaining personal hygiene is also a must since H pylori may cause these ulcers.
11. Food Related Digestive Problems: Lactose Intolerance
Except for people with European descent, lactose intolerance is common. This condition indicates that a person cannot tolerate lactose in his or her digestive tract. This is due to the absence of the enzyme that breaks down lactose.
If someone who is lactose intolerant consumes milk or any dairy product, they feel bloated and gassy. This may also result in diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Milk and products made from it are good protein sources. Hence, you need to consume food rich in protein to supply the nutrition gap.
Some people with lactose intolerance can consume milk and dairy products albeit in small amounts. But, some cannot tolerate it without getting queasy. If you are aware that you are lactose intolerant, be mindful of the amount of milk and dairy you consume.
12. Hard and Infrequent Bowel Movement: Constipation
Among the digestive issues you encounter, constipation is one of the common. When you are constipated, bowel movement is hard or infrequent. It is not a serious condition and it may be due to your diet.
Although normal bowel movement varies, you should try to pass your bowels at least once a day. If you are constipated, try to avoid laxatives. These medicines could weaken the muscles in the anus and antacids containing aluminum and calcium. Too much dairy, low water intake, and sudden shifts in eating patterns can make this condition worse.
There are also cases where stress leads to constipation. Hence, anyone who suffers from this disorder affecting the bowel movement must pay attention to their food and lifestyle. Keeping stress levels low and regular exercise could help people with this condition.
13. Digestive Disorders: Bloating and How to Avoid It
Feeling bloated is a common discomfort that people suffer from during the holiday season. This is one of those digestive disorders which could result from eating too much or consuming foods that trigger bloating.
Eating too much is the leading cause of bloating. In this case, the remedy is decreasing meal portions. You may also be eating too fast and this can lead to overeating.
Our bodies cannot detect when we are full right away. In fact, it takes about 20 minutes before the body signals that it already had its fill. If you eat quickly, you would have had eaten more than your limit before you receive the warning from your brain.
Fatty foods may also be the culprit. Your body can digest carbohydrates and protein faster than fat. So, when you eat a lot of fat it stays longer in your digestive tract which makes you feel bloated.
Some food products to avoid include milk and dairy, whole grains, and veggies and fruits filled with starch.
14. Digestive Problems: Symptoms Related to Diarrhea
People think that the number of bowel movements indicates diarrhea. Three to five bowel movements in a day is normal depending on what you are eating. If your diet is high in fiber, stool production increases.
Unless there is an increase in the wateriness and the volume of the stool, you may not be suffering from diarrhea.
Gas, an urgency to defecate and cramping accompanies diarrhea most of the time. If there was an infection, its nausea and vomiting may also result.
When you have diarrhea, you need to avoid the reasons for the watery stools whether they are food or drugs. In diarrhea, what you want to avoid is dehydration. So, you need to increase your intake of liquids when you are constantly passing your bowels.
You can also add rehydrating salts and drinks with ions to make sure that you don’t get dehydrated.
15. Digestion Problems for Older Adults: Bowel Incontinence
The inability to control bowel movement may not be a serious medical issue. But it precludes people who suffer from it from joining social gatherings. This is also a condition which is more common in older people.
Damage to the anal sphincters is the main cause of bowel incontinence. Since vaginal childbirth increases the chances of damaging those muscles, women are more prone to accidental bowel movement than men.
There are several treatment options for fecal incontinence. Irrespective of the cause, dietary changes could help manage accidental bowel leakage. If you suffer from this condition, try your best to avoid food products that contribute to diarrhea. These foods include dairy products, caffeine, and chocolate.
For people with this condition, keeping a food journal is also helpful in identifying trigger foods. Once you identify these triggers, it would be easier to manage your bowels.
16. Stomach Lining Inflammation: Viral Gastroenteritis
Many people suffer from viral gastroenteritis each year. Some people recover even without the need for medication. This condition leads to the inflammation of the intestinal or stomach lining.
This disease happens because of viruses and they are highly contagious. Among the most common signs of viral gastroenteritis includes vomiting and watery diarrhea. Since this is contagious, it would be best to avoid sharing utensils, food, and drink with people who have this disorder.
You also need to drink enough fluids to avoid dehydration. Food from contaminated water may transmit the disease. You may need to take oral rehydration solution to avoid dehydration.
There are tons of digestion problems that could wreak havoc on our gastrointestinal tract. Since the digestive system is responsible for bowel movement, it’s vital to pay attention to it to avoid unpredictable accidents.
One of the most common patterns in all digestive problems is proper diet. The only way to see changes is to combine medication, diet, and the right lifestyle. Knowing how to deal with gastrointestinal disorders will not just help you deal with symptoms, it could improve your life.