Digestive System Diseases

Digestive system diseases are disorders of the digestive tract also commonly referred to as the gastrointestinal or GI tract. In digestion, the human body breaks down foods and drinks into smaller molecules the body uses for a number of functions, some crucial to life itself. Digestion takes place in the digestive tract consisting of the oral cavity, the esophagus or swallowing tube, the stomach, the small intestines and the large intestines. The process of digestion also requires a number of different organs including the liver, pancreas and gallbladder.

Digestive system diseases – An overview

Digestive system diseases have many symptoms, some more common than others. In general, the first telltale signs of problems in the digestive tract involve the manifestation of some of the following symptoms:

  • – Bleeding
  • – Bloating
  • – Constipation
  • – Diarrhea
  • – Heartburn
  • – Incontinence
  • – Nausea and vomiting
  • – Pain in the belly
  • – Swallowing problems
  • – Suspicious weight gain or weight loss

By definition, a digestive system disease is any healthcare problem that occurs in the digestive tract. Conditions may range in seriousness from mild to life threatening. Of the many digestive system diseases, cancer, irritable bowel syndrome and lactose intolerance are the most common medical conditions. Other digestive system diseases include gallstones, cholecystitis, and cholangitis. Rectal problems such as anal fissure, hemorrhoids and rectal prolapse, esophagus problems such as stricture and achalasia, liver problems including hepatitis B and C, cirrhosis and liver failure and pancreas problems such as pancreatitis and pancreatic pseudocyst are also classified as digestive system diseases together with gastroesophageal reflux disease, peptic ulcer disease and hiatal hernia. In general, diagnostic tests for digestive problems include colonoscopy, upper GI endoscopy, capsule endoscopy and endoscopic ultrasound.

Today, with the advance of medical technologies, it is possible to perform several surgical procedures on the digestive tract. These include procedures done using endoscopy, laparoscopy and open surgery. Organ transplants can also be performed on the liver, pancreas and small intestine.

Suspect you have a digestive system disorder? Act now

Within the medical community, a gastroenterologist is a physician specialist with extra training in the diagnosis and treatment of digestive disorders. Other health care providers involved in the treatment of digestive diseases include nurse practitioners, nutritionists or dietitians and primary care doctors.

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