Common Diseases of the Digestive System

The digestive system is prone to develop a host of medical conditions that can cause different symptoms. Here is a brief overview of some of the common digestive diseases.
HealthHearty Staff
Last Updated: May 31, 2018
We all know the importance of a healthy digestive system in the human body. The system comprises the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum, and the anus. These hollow organs are interconnected to form the digestive system, that helps the body in breaking down the food we eat and absorb the nutrients in it. Diseases that affect any of these organs are classified as digestive diseases.
Common Digestive Diseases
As mentioned above, the organs of the digestive system may develop different medical conditions. While some of them affect a particular organ or a part of that organ, some others affect more than one organ of the system. Given below are some of the common medical conditions that affect the digestive system.
Ulcers
Ulcers are open sores or lesions that develop on the walls of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. This condition can be caused by various factors, like stress, lifestyle, and medication. While duodenal ulcers are very common, stomach ulcers are not rare.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is also common. The characteristic feature of this condition is heartburn. Otherwise known as acid reflux disease, this condition is caused by the abnormal reflux of the stomach contents (including acids) to the esophagus.
Gastritis
Gastritis is a digestive disease that is caused by bacterial infection, regular use of medication like NSAIDs, and excess alcohol consumption. Gastritis can cause bloating, vomiting, diarrhea, indigestion, and abdominal pain.
Gastroparesis
When the movement of food from the stomach to the small intestine gets too slow or stops totally, the condition is called gastroparesis. The symptoms of gastroparesis include nausea, heartburn, upper abdominal pain, vomiting, and bloating resulting in a poor appetite and weight loss. This condition is caused by malfunctioning of the stomach muscles and is treated with medication to stimulate the muscles.
Celiac Disease
Celiac disease or gluten intolerance is another common digestive system disease. It is a type of autoimmune disease that affects the small intestine. In people with this condition, the immune system reacts to gluten in some food products, like wheat. This causes damage to the small intestine walls, which in turn, hinders nutrient absorption. Celiac disease symptoms include diarrhea, pain, bloating, pain and anemia.
Crohn's Disease
Common diseases of the digestive system include Crohn's disease, which is characterized by inflammation of the walls of the digestive tract. While the intestines are found to be mainly affected by Crohn's disease, even other parts of the digestive tract may develop this condition. Symptoms include ulcers, diarrhea, abdominal pain and blood in stools.
Ulcerative Colitis
Ulcerative colitis is another inflammatory condition that affects the large intestine. This condition is characterized by ulcers, blood in stools and abdominal pain. Untreated ulcerative colitis can lead to perforation of the colon and other complications.
Diverticulosis
Diverticulosis is a condition that affects the large intestine or colon and is characterized by the formation of pouches on the colon wall. These pouches bulge outwards, thereby causing pain and discomfort, along with bloating and constipation. Inflammation of these pouches is called diverticulitis that can cause fever, nausea and severe pain.
Constipation
Constipation is a common digestive system disorder. It can be caused by different factors, like lifestyle, diet, medication, and medical conditions. It can be defined as infrequent bowel movements (less than three times a week), and hard to pass dry stools. Constipation can be relieved with laxatives. Lifestyle changes and treatment of the underlying problem can relieve this condition.
Rectal Prolapse
Rectal prolapse is a common condition, wherein the walls of the rectum bulge outward through the anal opening. This condition is categorized into three types, as per the degree of prolapse. Rectal prolapse is mostly seen in elderly people and those with constipation.
Anal Fissures
Anal fissures are cracks or cuts on the skin that lines the lower part of the rectum, called the anus. This condition is characterized by rectal bleeding and pain. It is mainly caused by hard stools, that are difficult to expel. Other causes include anal sex, syphilis, and HIV. Most of the acute anal fissures disappear within a few days, chronic ones may take two to four weeks to subside. Some of them may require surgery too.
There are many other diseases and disorders that can affect the digestive system. If you go through the list of common infectious diseases, you can come across numerous conditions related to this system. They include cholera, typhoid fever, staphylococcal food poisoning, bacillary dysentery, and salmonellosis. So follow a healthy lifestyle and avoid most of these diseases.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.
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