What are gastrointestinal disorders (digestive system disorders)?
Common gastrointestinal disorders (digestive system disorders) include heartburn and IBS. Symptoms can include bloating, diarrhea, gas, abdominal pain, and abdominal cramps. Treatment involves a combination of medications and lifestyle changes.
What are functional gastrointestinal disorders?
Functional gastrointestinal disorders mean that the gastrointestinal (GI) tract is not working properly even though it appears normal. They are the most common complications affecting the gastrointestinal tract (including the colon and rectum). Constipation and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are common examples.
Several factors disrupt the gastrointestinal tract and its mobility (or ability to move), including:
- Eat a low fibre diet.
- There is not enough exercise.
- Other changes in travel or routine.
- Consume large amounts of dairy products.
- Resist the urge to defecate.
- Prevention of the need to defecate due to the pain of hemorrhoids.
- Over time, overuse of laxatives (stool softeners) weakens the intestinal muscles.
- Taking antacids that contain calcium or aluminium.
- Taking certain medications (especially strong pain relievers such as antidepressants, iron pills, and narcotics).
Constipation means having difficulty defecating (or having a bowel movement), which are rare (less than three times a week) or incomplete. Constipation is usually caused by inadequate “fodder” or fibre in the diet or by disruption of a normal routine or diet.
Constipation causes a person to leak during bowel movements. It can cause small, rough stools and sometimes anal problems like cracks and hemorrhoids. Constipation is rarely a sign of a more serious medical condition.
You can treat your constipation in the following ways:
- Increase the amount of fibre you eat.
- Get regular exercise.
- Shaking your intestines when you have a desire (blocking the desire can cause constipation).
If these therapies don’t work, laxatives are a temporary solution. Be aware that the overuse of laxatives can make constipation symptoms worse. Always follow the instructions for the laxative, as well as the advice of your doctor.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Irritable bowel syndrome (also known as spastic colon, irritable bowel, or nervous stomach) is a condition in which the muscles of the colon contract more than in people without IBS. Certain foods, medications, and stress are some of the factors that trigger IBS.
Symptoms of IBS:
- Abdominal pain and cramps.
- Excess gas.
- Difficulty than usual, change in bowel habits such as loose or emergency stools.
- Alternating constipation and diarrhea.
- Preventing caffeine.
- Increase fibre in the diet.
- Control which foods trigger IBS (and avoid these foods).
- Learn different ways to reduce stress or deal with stress.
- Sometimes taking medications as directed by your healthcare provider.
What are structural gastrointestinal disorders?
Structural gastrointestinal disorders mean that the intestine looks abnormal and is not working properly. Sometimes the structural abnormality must be removed surgically. Common examples of structural gastrointestinal disorders are hemorrhoids, diverticular disease, colon polyps, colon cancer, and inflammatory bowel disease.
These are blood vessels on the inside of the anal opening. When they fall into the anus due to leakage, they become irritated and begin to bleed. Finally, internal hemorrhoids are enough to come out of the anus (sink or stick).
- Improve bowel habits (such as preventing constipation, filtering during bowel movements, and defecating whenever you want).
- Your doctor is using rubber bands to remove the vessels.
- Your doctor is surgically removing them. Only a small number of patients with very large, painful, and persistent hemorrhoids require surgery.
External hemorrhoids are veins found under the skin on the outside of the anus. Sometimes after filtration, the external bleeding veins rupture, and the blood clots under the skin. This very painful condition is called a pile.
Treatment includes local anaesthesia for vein clotting and removal and/or hemorrhoid removal.
Anal fissures are fissures or fissures in the lining of the anal opening. The most common cause of anal fissures is very rough or liquid stools. Cracks in the anal membrane reveal the underlying muscles that control the passage of stool through the anus and out of the body. Anal fissures are one of the most painful problems because exposed muscles become irritated without being exposed to stool or air and can cause severe swelling, pain, bleeding, or spasms after defecation.
Early treatment for anal fissures includes pain relievers, large, bulky stools, and dietary fibre to reduce sitz baths (sitting in a few inches of warm water). If these treatments do not relieve pain, surgery may be necessary to repair the sphincter muscle.
Perianal tumors occur when the small anal glands that open inside the anus become blocked and cause a bacterial infection that is always present in these glands. When pus develops, a tumor forms. Treatment usually consists of removing the pus under local anaesthesia in the doctor’s office.
An anal fistula often follows the drainage of a tumor and is an abnormal tube-shaped path from the anal canal to the hole in the skin near the opening of the anus. Body waste that travels through the anal canal is diverted through this small canal and through the skin causing itching and irritation. Fistulas can also cause drainage, pain, and bleeding. They rarely heal on their own and usually require surgery to drain the tumor and “close” the fistula.
Other perianal infections
Sometimes the glands in the skin near the anus become infected and need to be drained. At the back of the anus, the back of the pelvis has tiny hairs (called pilonidal cysts).
Sexually transmitted diseases that affect the anus include anal pimples, herpes, AIDS, chlamydia, and gonorrhea.
Diverticulosis is the presence of small exit points (diverticula) in the muscular wall of the large intestine that forms in weak areas of the intestine. They usually occur in the sigmoid colon, the high-pressure area of the lower colon.
Diverticular disease is very common, occurring in 10% of people over the age of 40 and in 50% of people over the age of 60 in Western cultures. It is often caused by too little fiber (fiber) in the diet. Diverticulosis rarely causes symptoms.
Complications of diverticulitis occur in up to 10% of people with typhoid fever. These include infection or inflammation (diverticulitis), bleeding, and obstruction. Treatment for diverticulitis includes antibiotics, increased fluid intake, and a special diet. Half of the patients with complications require surgery to remove the invasive section of the colon.
Colon polyps and cancer
Each year, 130,000 Americans suffer from colorectal cancer, the second most common cancer in the United State. Using a variety of screening tests, the disease can be prevented, diagnosed, and treated long before symptoms appear.
The importance of screening
Almost all colon cancers begin as polyps, benign (non-cancerous) growths in the tissues of the colon and rectum. Cancer develops when these polyps grow and abnormal cells develop that begin to attack the surrounding tissue. Removing polyps can prevent the development of colorectal cancer. Almost all pre-existing polyps can be painlessly removed using a flexible light tube called a colonoscope. If not found in the early stages, colorectal cancer can spread throughout the body. More advanced cancers require more complex surgical procedures.
Most early forms of colorectal cancer do not cause symptoms, which makes screening tests very important. When symptoms appear, the cancer is very advanced. Blood clots or stool congestion, changes in normal bowel habits, narrowing of the stool, abdominal pain, weight loss, or constant fatigue
Most cases of colorectal cancer are found in four ways:
- Testing people at average risk for colorectal cancer starting at age 50.
- Testing people at high risk for colon cancer (for example, those with a family or personal history of colon polyps or cancer).
- Examining the intestine in patients with symptoms.
- Find opportunities in a routine inspection.
Early detection is the best prevention option.
Inflammation of the colon
There are many types of colitis, conditions that cause inflammation of the intestine. In addition to:
- Infectious colitis.
- Ulcerative colitis (cause unknown).
- Crohn’s disease (cause unknown).
- Ischemic colitis (caused by insufficient blood flow to the colon).
- Radiation colitis (after radiation therapy).
Inflammation of the colon can lead to diarrhea, rectal bleeding, abdominal cramps, and urgency (frequent and urgent need to empty the intestines). Treatment depends on the diagnosis, which is done by colonoscopy and biopsy.
Can gastrointestinal disorders be prevented?
Many gastrointestinal disorders of the colon and rectum can be prevented or reduced by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, following good bowel habits, and following cancer screenings.
Colonoscopy is recommended for average-risk patients older than 50 years. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps, a colonoscopy may be recommended at a young age. Generally, colonoscopy is recommended 10 years younger than the affected family member. (For example, if your brother is diagnosed with colorectal cancer or polyps at age 45, you should start screening at 35.)
If you have symptoms of colon cancer, you should see your doctor immediately.
Common features of gastrointestinal disorders:
- A change in normal bowel habits
- Or blood in light or dark stools
- Abnormal stomach pain or gas
- Very narrow stool
- Feeling that the intestine is not empty after defecating
- Unexplained weight loss