DIGESTIVE DISORDERS - Overview, Facts, Types, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Medications
digestive disorders - WatsonsHealth


People with digestive problems like heartburn/GERD, inflammatory bowel disease, and irritable bowel syndrome have symptoms that include bloating, diarrhea, gas, stomach pain, and stomach cramps. It can be treated with a combination of medication and lifestyle changes.

Here’s more about some of the main types of digestive diseases that can affect the digestive system:


  • Appendicitis is a bacterial infection of the appendix.
  • Food poisoning can be caused by many different types of bacteria.
  • Viral gastroenteritis is a inflammation of the stomach and intestines caused by a


  • Hepatitis A, hepatitis B and hepatitis C alllead to inflammation of the liver.
  • Peptic Ulcers are open wounds that are on the lining of the esophagus, stomach and small intestine.

Inflammatory and auto-immune conditions

  • Gastritis is a group of conditions caused by inflammation of the stomach lining.
  • Hemorrhoids are swollen and inflamed veins in the anus and lower rectum.
  • Crohn,s disease and ulcerative colitis are  inflammatory disorders of the digestive tract.
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a common disorder affecting the large intestine.
  • Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas.

Functional or structural problems

  • Anal fissure refers to a tear in the mucosa (thin tissue layer) that lines the anus
  • Anal istula is a small channel between the end of the bowel and the skin close to the anus.
  • Cirrhosis of the liver is a late stage of liver scarring.
  • Celiac disease is a chronic disorder caused by intolerance to gluten.
  • Constipation is characterized by infrequent bowel movements or stools that are hard to pass.
  • Diarrheais the passing out of loose and frequent stools.
  • Diverticular disease describes a condition where small bulging “pockets” develop in the colon. These can get inflamed.
  • Flatullence in the passing of wind or gas through the anus.
  • Fecal incontinence is leakage from the bowel owing to poor bowel control.
  • Gallstones are hard deposits in your gallbladder.
  • Hiatal and abdominal hernias describe what happens when an organ pushes through the tissue that holds it in place.
  • Indigestion,heartburn, gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) and irritable bowel syndrome
  • Intestinalobstruction is a blockage of the large or small intestines


  • Oral cancer
  • Throat cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Corectal cancer
  • Cancer of the anus and rectum
  • Stomach cancer
  • Liver cancer


Symptoms of digestive diseases can include loose bowels, nausea, heartburn, vomiting, constipation, stomach swelling, abdominal pain, flatulence, bleeding from the digestive tract, and loss of appetite.


Your doctors may choose the appropriate test based on the findings of the medical history, physical examination , and,  if applicable, psychological evaluation. These tests include:

  • Endoscopes
  • X-rays  and other imaging techniques
  • Ultrasound scans
  • Tiny amounts of radioactive materials
  • Video capsule endoscopy
  • Needles
  • Pressure gauges
  • Chemical measurements

This will help your doctors diagnose and treat your digestive problems. You may be advised fasting for about 8-12 hours to clear your digestive system. Other tests may have no preparation.



There are more that 40 digestive diseases, thus treatment may vary from lifestyle changes to medication or surgery. Crohn’s disease vs ulcerative colitis, for instance, are treated separately as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), depending on the severity and symptoms.

Other Digestive Disease Treatments:

Many of these digestive diseases have the same symptoms, but they could be treated  depending on the severity, symptoms and the patient’s medical history:

  • Lifestyle changes—quit smoking, limit alcohol consumption, light exercise
  • Dietary changes—keep away from high-fat, acidic foods. Start consuming more fiber and healthy foods
  • Over-the-counter medications—antacids and pain relievers may treat less severe conditions
  • Prescription medications and antibiotics—prescriptions treat the disease and may be used for short-term or long-term depending on the condition
  • Hospitalization—some conditions require stabilization, IV fluids, stomach draining and assessment at the hospital
  • Surgery—for severe cases when the GI tract has been damaged or needs repair, surgery can remove cancerous or dead tissue
  • Radiation/chemotherapy—These treatments may be used for cancers

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