A digestive disorder is a condition that involves the digestive system from the mouth down to the anus. This is known as the gastrointestinal tract and includes the esophagus, stomach, small intestine and large intestine. There are many types of disorders that people can suffer from and in fact, it’s very common for people to have some form of digestive disorder in their lifetime.
In a 2018 study, it was revealed that roughly 60 to 70 million people in the US suffered from a digestive disease. These diseases and disorders vary in severity, and that severity even varies within a particular disease group too. For example, if two people suffered with colitis, you may find that they have drastically different symptoms to one another. So, what are some of the most common disorders and diseases in 2021 and what are the ways in which they can be treated?
Crohn’s And Colitis
These fall under the category of inflammatory bowel disease or IBD and they are very serious, causing a great deal of discomfort and pain as well as some unpleasant symptoms. The main difference between Crohn’s and Colitis is that they affect different parts of the digestive tract. Colitis is specifically found in the colon, hence the name, but Crohn’s can affect any part of the digestive tract, understandably causing very varied symptoms. It can cause everything from mouth ulcers to intestinal cysts and can be incredibly distressing.
Sadly, as of yet, and similar to most other digestive disorders, there are no known cures. On top of this, Crohn’s and Colitis actually present themselves differently from person to person, making specific remedies very situational. However, there are a number of different tried and true methods that people can employ when suffering with a flare up of these diseases. Everyone is different, and you’ll likely find your own ways to deal with reducing your pain and discomfort, whether it’s drinking peppermint tea or clutching a hot water bottle.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
This is a much more common disorder and impacts many people’s lives. This is where the gut can become irritated by certain triggers, and these can be anything from spicy food to anxiety and stress. In fact, this is a perfect example of how our psyche is linked to our guts, as they can impact one another quite drastically.
Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS can present itself at very inopportune times, and there really is not much you can do except ride out the discomfort. This can be a combination of cramping, loose stools, flatulence, and bloating, and similarly to IBD, there are similar methods that help reduce these symptoms. Your best choice though is to try to reduce your chances of being triggered by outside sources. If a particular food is known to cause an IBS flare up, avoid it when possible, and try to steer clear of stressful situations too.
There are a few different types of acid reflux, and this is where the barriers that shut off your stomach from your esophagus don’t work properly and allow acid to rise up into your throat. This can cause severe pain and discomfort as the esophagus isn’t designed to handle the higher concentrations of acid in the stomach. The pain is generally situated throughout the chest and tends to feel like a burning sensation, hence why this symptom is referred to as heart burn. Acid reflux doesn’t always present obvious symptoms like heart burn though.
For example, Laryngopharyngeal reflux or LPR is referred to as silent reflux and can instead be much harder to detect. Sufferers may find it hard to identify LPR symptoms which can be a sore throat, a long-term cough, a constant need to clear their throat, sleep disturbance and a shortness of breath. This can often be left untreated due to the subtlety of the symptoms and can lead to more severe complications like damage to vocal cords and a narrowing of the airways. If you are concerned about this and think you may be experiencing these sorts of symptoms, speak to your doctor as soon as possible.
These can present both externally and internally around the anus and can be both frantically irritating and incredibly painful. Hemorrhoids are swollen blood vessels that can cause irritation, discomfort, pain, and even bleeding during bowel movements. While they’re not something serious to worry about, you will want to attend to minimizing the symptoms of these as well as figuring out what is causing them. Straining both during bowel movements as well as in everyday life such as when lifting heavy objects can cause hemorrhoids. These can be treated with topical ointments that reduce swelling and numb the pain, and in more serious cases, they can be removed surgically.
This is where benign intestinal pouches that often form in your gut, called diverticula, become infected or inflamed. The pouches alone aren’t harmful but when they become inflamed they can rupture which is a very serious event. You’ll likely need surgery to deal with this as a perforated bowel can lead to infection and sepsis. The chances of developing diverticulitis apparently increase with age, and also can be increased by smoking cigarettes, a lack of exercise and poor diet with lots of red meat and fat.
It’s also suggested that anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen which actually damages the gut lining to enter your system, may also contribute to this risk. It’s worth doing some research on the causes and treatment of diverticulitis to help you reduce your risk, especially if members of your family have suffered with it before, as it’s said that it may also be genetic.
This is an immune reaction that some people have to eating gluten found in wheat, barley and rye. Eating foods that contain these such as bread and cake, can leave sufferers feeling bloated, nauseous and can lead to other symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal cramping. The obvious remedy for this is to not eat foods with gluten in, but some people with Celiac disease can’t even eat food that has touched gluten, similar to other food allergies.
While these symptoms are unpleasant, they can also cause you to develop further complications due to the body’s immune response damaging the small intestine’s lining which can increase the risk of ruptures as well as reduces the ability to absorb certain essential nutrients.