Constipation, diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome are some of the common digestive problems observed in people of all ages.
Digestion is a complex process, but in layman’s terms, it is defined as the breakdown of ingested food into substances that can be easily used by our body to meet its daily requirements. The food acts as an energy source for the body. So, conversion of food into fuel (energy) completely depends on how healthy the digestive system is. However, an impaired digestive system can cause malnutrition, in spite of having healthy foods daily.
Following are some common digestive issues, observed in children and adults alike.
People who are constipated experience painful bowel movement. The patient faces difficulty passing stools as the fecal matter become hard and dry. Unhealthy diet lacking in fiber is primarily responsible for causing constipation.
Diarrhea, an infection caused by bacteria, parasites or virus, often occurs due to consumption of unhygienic food. It is typically marked by loose bowel movement, meaning bowel evacuation produces watery stools. In this condition, the digestive system is unable to tolerate intake of dairy products and fatty foods and so must be avoided temporarily.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
In this condition, the large intestine (colon) is unable to function efficiently. It is observed that contraction and relaxation of muscles lining the intestinal wall push the food through the colon. However, in IBS, the muscles contract abnormally and therefore food passes through the intestine at a faster rate, leading to diarrhea. However this is not the case always, as in some instances the food moves slowly causing constipation and gas. IBS that triggers abdominal pain can be aggravated by drinking carbonated beverages and alcohol. As the cause of IBS is not known, taking necessary medicines to manage symptoms is the best option.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are the two variations of IBD syndrome. Ulcerative colitis leads to inflammation and ulcer formation on the uppermost layer of the colon. On the other hand in Crohn’s disease, the inflammation and the ulceration penetrates in the inner layers of the colon. Hence, Crohn’s disease is considered to be a severe form of IBD. Changes in bowel pattern, stomach cramps and blood in stool are some of the symptoms of IBD.
Diverticulitis refers to a condition in which the diverticula formed on the colon wall are swollen. Diverticula are small protruding structures on the intestinal wall. These abnormal tissues bulging out from the colon wall are usually observed in people over 40. Although, diverticula do not cause any sort of discomfort, when they become inflamed, they cause abdominal pain, abnormal bowel movement and nauseating feeling.
Heartburn, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition in which the digestive juices flow in the wrong direction. As we all know, the stomach and liver produce certain fluids that promote digestion. The tube that does the job of transporting swallowed food to the stomach is the food pipe. GERD occurs when the digestive juices secreted by the stomach travel in the backward direction and enter the food pipe. Heartburn triggers a burning sensation in the chest, and is usually experienced after having heavy meals.
Formation of ulcers on the lining of the stomach or the small intestine can also slow down the digestion process. A peptic ulcer is an open sore, where in the underlying tissue is badly damaged or completely eroded. Besides having spicy food on a regular basis, other factor primarily responsible for causing peptic and stomach ulcers is over growth of H. pylori bacteria in the stomach.
Digestive problems like constipation are easily curable with home remedies, and usually do not require any medical treatment. For instance, having plenty of water, following a regular exercise routine and a high fiber diet, is the best way to get rid of constipation. On the contrary, digestive issues such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease cannot be cured, but with healthy lifestyle modifications one can certainly prevent symptoms from aggravating and yet lead a fulfilling life.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.