The human digestive system is a complex arrangement consisting of several organs. Here is a list of diseases of the digestive system.
Acid reflux, hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, etc., are the most common digestive problems.
The human digestive system consists of esophagus, stomach, liver, pancreas, large intestine, small intestine, bowel, and colon. Disorders or malfunctioning in any of these organs can lead to diseases and disorders. Stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, etc., are the common symptoms of diseases related to the digestive system.
Organs of the Digestive System
The esophagus is a tube like organ that extends from the back of the throat to the stomach. It connects the mouth to the stomach.
The stomach is the biggest and the principal organ that carries out the process of digestion.
The liver lies in the upper right of the stomach and carries out several functions like the secretion of bile and the metabolism of proteins, fat, and carbohydrates. The pancreas is not an organ, but, an exocrine gland located at the back of the stomach. It secrets pancreatic juices and insulin.
It is the longest part of the alimentary canal which helps in the digestion of food and the absorption of nutrients.
It is the lowest part of the gastrointestinal tract. Its functions are absorbing water and passing the waste material out of the body. It begins at the cecum and ends at the rectum.
Diseases of the Digestive System
Acid reflux disease (GERD), hiatal hernia, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), etc., are some of the most common diseases of the digestive system. The prominent disease-causing parasites in human are Campylobacter, Salmonella and Helicobacter. The following is a list of digestive system diseases.
(* This is not an exhaustive list)
Appendicitis: It is the inflammation of the appendix. It is a serious condition, which requires immediate surgical removal of the appendix.
Alcoholic Liver Disease: As the name suggests, it is caused due to excess consumption of alcohol. The different types of alcoholic liver disease are alcoholic cirrhosis, alcoholic fatty liver disease, and alcoholic hepatitis.
Bowel Obstruction: Bowel or intestinal obstruction is blocking of the intestine (small or large). It is a serious condition as the blockage prevents food and liquids from passing through the intestines.
Barrett’s Esophagus: It is a complication of GERD. People suffering from Barrett’s Esophagus are at a high risk of suffering from esophageal cancer.
Celiac Disease: It is an autoimmune disorder, affecting the small intestine. People experience severe side effects on consuming gluten-containing foods.
Crohn’s Disease: It is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), characterized by inflammation in the lining of the intestinal tract. Genetics and improper functioning of the immune system are believed to be the possible causes.
Cholestasis: It occurs due to improper bile formation or bile flow. Causes include alcoholic liver disease, pancreatitis, cancer of pancreas, hepatitis, etc.
Cystic Fibrosis: It is a genetic disorder, affecting the digestive system and lungs. When suffering from this disease, the mucus becomes thick and can block airways, tubes, and ducts.
Colitis: It is the inflammation of the colon. It can be acute or chronic.
Constipation: It is a condition where a person has a difficulty in passing stools as they are hard and dry. Constipation is also characterized by passing stools less than three times a week.
Cholera: It is bacterial infection caused by Vibrio cholerae. It is caused by consuming contaminated food or water, and can be fatal.
Colon Cancer: It is the cancer of the colon. Colon is a part of the large intestine.
Diverticulitis: It is the inflammation of the diverticula (pouches that are present in the large intestine). The exact cause of this condition is not known.
Esophagitis: It is the inflammation of the esophagus. It is characterized into different types depending on the underlying cause.
Esophageal Spasm: It is the sudden painful contraction of the muscles. Its cause is unknown.
Esophageal Stricture: It is narrowing of the esophagus, caused due to various reasons like GERD, consuming harmful products, etc. It leads to difficulty in swallowing food.
Esophageal Ring: Also known as Schatzki Ring, it is a ring formed in the lower esophagus, that makes swallowing food difficult. Its exact cause is unknown.
Food Poisoning: It is an food-borne illness caused due to consumption of contaminated food. Infection due to virus, bacteria, or other parasites caused food poisoning.
Fatty Liver Disease: It occurs when the amount of fat in the liver increases. It is classified into two types: Alcoholic Liver Disease (ALD) and Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
Gallstones: It occurs when gallstones (small stones of cholesterol) are formed in the gallbladder. It is a common disease.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD): Acid Reflux Disease (GERD) occurs when the acid in the stomach seeps back into the esophagus.
Gastritis: It is the inflammation of the lining of the stomach. It can be acute or chronic, and is caused due to several reasons like infection, long-term use of painkillers, etc.
Gastroenteritis: Also known as stomach flu, gastroenteritis is the inflammation of the stomach and intestines. It is caused due to bacterial or viral infection. Viral gastroenteritis is also known as stomach flu.
Gastroparesis: It is caused due to improper functioning of the stomach muscles, which leads to inability of the stomach to get emptied properly. Feeling of fullness quickly, loss of appetite, vomiting, nausea, etc., are some of its symptoms.
Gastric Cancer (Stomach cancer): As the name suggests, it occurs when cancerous cells grow in the stomach. It is difficult to identify at an early stage as its symptoms are similar to other digestive system diseases.
Hemorrhoids: It is a condition characterized by swollen veins in the anal region. Hemorrhoids or piles can be internal or external, and can be painful.
Hiatal Hernia: It occurs when a part of stomach protrudes upwards through the diaphragm. It is commonly observed in older people.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): It is characterized by a wide variety of symptoms like abdominal pain, abdominal cramps, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, etc.
Indigestion: Also known as dyspepsia, it is a condition caused due to difficulty in digesting food. It is a symptom of several other diseases.
Inguinal Hernia: It occurs when a part of the abdominal cavity protrudes through the inguinal canal. It causes a bulge in the region which can be painful.
Jaundice: It is caused due to excessive building up of bilirubin in blood. It is easily identified as the skin turns visibly yellowish.
Liver Abscesses: It is formation of pus in the liver. It can be a potentially life-threatening condition.
Liver Cirrhosis: It is caused when healthy tissues of the liver are replaced by scar tissues. Scarring is a gradual non-reversible condition.
Liver Cancer: It is cancer that originates in the liver or spreads from other parts to the liver. It is also known as hepatic cancer.
Liver Failure: Liver failure, or hepatic failure, is the damage of liver caused due to hepatitis, cirrhosis, use of certain drugs and medication, etc. It can be acute or chronic.
Meckel’s Diverticulum: This is a congenital abnormality. It is a small bulge at the lower portion of the small intestine. It can lead to symptoms like abdominal pain, gastrointestinal bleeding, etc.
Mesenteric Ischemia: It is caused due to decreased blood supply to the intestines. The condition is common, but not limited to, older people.
Ogilvie Syndrome: Also known as Colonic pseudo-obstruction, this condition is occurs due to abnormal dilation of the colon. In this case, no mechanical or physical obstruction is present.
Peptic Ulcer: They are ulcers or sores that are formed on the lining of the stomach. Peptic ulcer is categorized into different types, viz., esophageal ulcer, duodenal ulcer, gastric ulcer.
Pancreatitis: It occurs when the pancreas get inflamed. Pancreatitis can be acute or chronic.
Pancreatic Cancer: It is the cancer beginning in the pancreas, and is one of the most common types of cancer in the world. It is not easily diagnosed at an early stage.
Salmonellosis: It is caused due to salmonella (bacteria) infection. The infection is usually caused due to consumption of contaminated food.
Short Bowel Syndrome: It is characterized by improper absorption of food nutrients in the intestine. It can occur due to a disorder or because of surgical removal of a part of the intestine.
Shigellosis: It is infection in the intestine caused due to Shigella bacteria. Diarrhea is the most prominent symptom of the disorder.
Typhoid: Also known as typhoid fever, it is bacterial infection caused by Salmonella Typhi. It is highly contagious.
Viral Hepatitis (A, B, C, D, E): It is inflammation of the liver caused by virus. It can be acute or chronic.
Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome: It is a rare disease, where a tumor is formed inside the intestine, which leads to production of large amount of acid in the stomach. The tumors are called gastrinomas, and they can be cancerous (malignant) as well as non-cancerous (benign).
There are preventive measures for many of the aforementioned diseases. Following the precautionary measures can be helpful to a great extent in preventing these diseases.
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.