We never know the importance of a healthy digestive system until there are complaints about digestive illnesses. Among the systems in the body, it serves every other system for optimum health performance and carries out a lot of functions- absorption of nutrients, removal of waste products, and many more.
The digestive system contains different organs that contribute to the functions- mouth, esophagus, stomach, small and large intestine, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, appendix, caecum, colon, and rectum.
A precise meaning for the digestive system is a group of organs that breaks food (solid or liquid) into smaller forms for nutrient absorption into the body.
Digestion helps to generate energy, build the body, and repair body cells; the body uses digestion to get most of its required nutrients.
Food moves in a peristaltic movement to where they are digested. The undigested ones are removed by the muscle walls of the digestive system. During the process, the small intestine takes the nutrients into the bloodstream, and the large intestine takes the remnant for excretion.
Digestive illnesses are a deviation from normal gastrointestinal functions. It affects the organs of the digestive system with either mild or severe symptoms. This article will review the types of digestive illnesses you need to know.
Several types of illnesses affect the alimentary canal that disrupts the process of digestion, causing discomfort or pain in the body system.
It is a common type of digestive disease that happens to 6 of 8 persons that gives the bowel a hard time. The excretion of undigested foods through feces becomes hard and infrequent, which causes the large intestine to get stuffed with stored stools. It is a symptom of other types of digestive illnesses. Frequent constipation leads to hemorrhoids and anal fissures.
It is often caused by low fiber and water intake. Ensure you drink enough water, consume a fiber diet, and stay active. Your lifestyle can influence constipation.
IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME (IBS)
IBS is known by several names spastic colon, irritable colon, and nervous stomach. It is a common digestive illness. It is associated with abdominal pain, usually chronic, caused by the abnormality of the intestine.
The colon muscle contracts rapidly or lesser associated with your diet and lifestyle– stress, medicine, and food. Common symptoms include constipation, abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloating, and mucous feces.
Otherwise known as diverticulosis. It is a digestive illness linked with age, usually found in older adults of age 60 and above. The muscle wall of the stomach intestine grows weak, causing delay or difficult removal of undigested food. It is a serious condition often caused by low fiber in the diet.
Diverticulosis leads to inflammation, infection, bleeding, and obstruction of the large intestine, which can be mild or severe. It can be treated as constipation with antibiotics, but severe diverticulosis requires surgery.
ACID REFLUX AND GERD
Acid reflux is structural and functional incompetence of the large intestine muscle, which cause stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus. A consistent occurrence of acid reflux is called gastroesophageal reflux disease- GERD.
Under normal circumstances, food and other substances undergo a peristaltic movement in the digestive system. However, a deviation from this movement can detriment the whole digestive system.
Heartburn is a common symptom of GERD, most especially after having spicy or heavy foods.
GERD is usually influenced by tight clothing and frequent smoking. The possible symptoms are heartburn, impaired taste, difficulty swallowing, cough, sore throat, vomiting, and regurgitating.
Gallstones also known as cholelithiasis are solid stones in the gallbladder, and can be big or tiny. The gallbladder is located on the liver and is responsible for bile storage for the emulsification of fat and nutrient absorption. Gallstones are a digestive illness that fills the gallbladder with cholesterol, bile pigment, or calcium salts (calcium bilirubinate and carbonate) like a pure stone.
The leftovers cause it by improper emptying of the gallbladder into the large intestine, which causes blockage. Fortunately, it can be treated with medications and surgery, depending on the severity. Vomiting, jaundice, fever, abdominal cramps, and stained feces are common symptoms of gallstones.
It is a type of digestive illness that attacks the organs responsible for nutrient absorption in the large intestine called the villi. Celiac disease is not known to many as an irritation caused by oversensitivity to gluten and related to other digestive illnesses.
Consuming foods like rice or bread increases the chances of celiac disease, leading to an immune disorder, and is associated with certain nutrient deficiencies in the body. Common symptoms are abdominal cramps, bloated stomach, frequent feces, nausea, and bone loss.
Ulcerative colitis is the inflammation of the colon due to an immune disorder; the immune system mistakes foods and other substances as an invader. It is a digestive illness with a lot of discomfort.
The colon tissues get inflamed with blood in stool, diarrhea, and stomach pains. Ulcerative colitis can be severe or mild and can be treated with medications or surgery (to remove the colon) respectively. Likewise, it is best to take note of symptoms and avoid foods that trigger this digestive illness.
It is also referred to as piles. It is a common type of digestive illness linked with constipation and diarrhea. The veins at the opening of the anus are swollen due to the forced straining of feces through the anus.
Hemorrhoid causes bleeding and irritating bowel, pain, swollen anus, stool leakage, dizziness, and lightheadedness. It is often found in pregnant women and can be mild or severe. Ointment and suppository cream treats mild hemorrhoid, while surgery is required to treat severe hemorrhoid. Ensure to consume more fiber foods for good bowel movement.
An anal fissure is a painful digestive illness associated with cracking and breaking the anus opening, caused by hard and watery feces. It leads to bleeding and spasm.
These are practical tips that can keep your digestive system safe and healthy.
- High fiber diet- foods containing fiber are legumes, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruit, and whole grains. They support the easy movement of food down your digestive system, from the mouth to the anus; soluble fiber water the accumulation, and insoluble fiber adds bulk to stool. It supports weight management and prevents constipation, diverticulosis, irritable bowel syndrome, and other types of digestive illness.
- Eat healthy fats- healthy fats constitute good digestion, help prevent unnecessary snacking and keep you satisfied. Moderate consumption helps the assimilation of nutrients to avoid inflammation of the intestine.
- Exercise regularly– staying active is good for the food movement and allows quick metabolism of food substances for nutrient absorption. It supports a good excretion system for waste materials in the body.
- Eat fruits and vegetables
- Drink enough water– the body needs water for most of its activities, and water intake should be about 1.5 liters to 2.5 liters daily. It helps the digestive health, bone health, body temperature, and removal of toxic substances in the body.
- Reduce sugar intake– excessive sugar consumption interferes with the alimentary canal and forms harmful chemicals in the stomach.
- Manage stress
- Cultivate the habit of chewing foods before swallowing for enzymes to work on the food.
- Avoid red meat and processed foods.
- Eat white meat and lean meat instead.
- Quit smoking and reduce your caffeine and alcohol intake.
- Take probiotics to fend off harmful yeast and bacteria in the digestive system.
What are the common digestive illnesses?
Digestive illnesses are detrimental states of the digestive system with different types. They include diverticulosis, acid reflux, gastroesophageal reflux disease, ulcerative colitis, bloating, constipation, hemorrhoid, anal fissures, gallstones, and celiac disease.
What are the symptoms of digestive illnesses?
The symptoms associated with digestive illness are discomforting and often linked to other types of medical conditions. So, it is advisable to keep your doctor informed. Symptoms are abdominal pain, bleeding, inflammation, vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, spasm, pain sensation, and nutrient deficiencies.
What are the treatments for digestive illness?
The treatments depend on the type of digestive illness and its severity. Medication is usually recommended for some digestive diseases like constipation and bloating… but surgery treats severe cases like gallstones, hemorrhoids, and many more.
How to improve digestive health?
Improving digestive health is possible with a healthy diet and lifestyle. Tips to improve digestion are regular exercise, staying hydrated, consuming a more fiber diet, managing stress, eating healthy fats, avoiding processed foods, choosing lean meat, quitting smoking, reducing alcohol intake, and chewing foods before swallowing.
What are the causes of digestive illness?
There are several causes associated with digestive illness, usually with diet and lifestyle. Causes are poor diet, stress, sedentary lifestyle, incompetent immune system, other medical conditions, excessive alcohol intake, and smoking.