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What are the Different Types of Gastrointestinal Disorders?

By D. Jeffress
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Gastrointestinal disorders are medical problems that disrupt the body's ability to absorb nutrients and expel waste. Many people experience pain, inflammation, nausea, and other uncomfortable symptoms related to gastrointestinal malfunctions. Some of the most common gastrointestinal disorders include constipation, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and cancer.

Constipation is a very common problem that affects most people at some point during their lives. The condition can be caused by a number of factors, including dehydration, sickness, a lack of fiber in the diet, excessive stress, or a range of more serious gastrointestinal disorders. Most cases of constipation are temporary and symptoms are generally relieved in a few days by drinking plenty of water, engaging in regular exercise, and consuming more fiber. An individual who remains constipated for several days, or experiences frequent episodes, should consult a doctor to check for serious disorders and prescribe appropriate medications.

There are several different types of inflammatory bowel disease, gastrointestinal disorders that causes significant abdominal pain and inflammation of the stomach lining, digestive tract, and colon. The most common types of inflammatory bowel disease are ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. An individual suffering from ulcerative colitis often develops ulcers and inflammation in their intestines, leading to painful bowel movements, rectal bleeding, diarrhea, fatigue, and dehydration. Crohn's disease primarily affects the digestive tract and stomach, and results in symptoms very similar to those of ulcerative colitis. There are no proven medical cures for most forms of inflammatory bowel disease, though individuals can find relief from their symptoms by taking anti-inflammatory medications and improving their diet and exercise routines.

Irritable bowel syndrome is a disorder that causes functional problems in the large intestine. Bloating, excessive gas, stomach pain, and cramps occur frequently in people with the disorder, and may be accompanied by bouts of severe diarrhea or constipation. The condition is most likely to develop in individuals who are under excessive stress, maintain poor diets, experience hormonal imbalances, or have a genetic predisposition to gastrointestinal problems. Irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic, long-lasting condition in most patients, and doctors usually suggest long-term management strategies such as taking fiber supplements and avoiding certain problem foods.

Perhaps the most dangerous of all gastrointestinal disorders is cancer in the stomach or colon. Cancerous tumors can severely disfigure and disrupt the gastrointestinal tract, leading to serious medical problems and often spreading to other parts of the body. Cancer in the colon or stomach can cause nausea, pain, indigestion, internal bleeding, fatigue, and weight loss. Individuals who suspect they may have cancer should consult primary care physicians or oncologists immediately so that proper diagnoses and treatment plans can be made.

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