What are gastrointestinal diseases?

Gastrointestinal diseases affect the gastrointestinal (GI) tract from the mouth to the anus. It is usually divided into two types: functional and structural. Some examples also include nausea or vomiting, food poisoning, lactose intolerance and diarrhoea.

Functional Gastrointestinal disease

Those are in which the GI tract looks normal when examined, but doesn’t move properly, is commonly known as functional gastrointestinal disease. They are the most common problems affecting the GI tract (including colon and rectum). These are including constipation, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), nausea, food poisoning, gas, bloating, and diarrhoea.

Structural Gastrointestinal disease

It’s a condition where your bowel looks abnormal upon examination and also doesn’t work properly. In some cases, the structural abnormality needs to be removed surgically. Common examples of structural GI diseases are strictures, stenosis, haemorrhoids, diverticular disease, colon polyps, colon cancer and inflammatory bowel disease.

Risk factors of Gastrointestinal diseases

Many risk factors may upset the GI tract and its motility including the below:

  • Eating a diet low in fibre – Fibre such as whole grains, legumes, beans and vegetables, helps you feel full and aids in the digestion of certain foods
  • Not getting enough exercise and an inactive lifestyle
  • Not drinking enough water
  • Travelling or other changes in routine
  • Eating large amounts of dairy products
  • Stress
  • Resisting the urge to have a bowel movement, possibly because of haemorrhoids
  • Overusing anti-diarrheal medications that, over time, weaken the bowel muscle movements called motility
  • Pregnancy

Symptoms of Gastrointestinal disease

Symptoms of digestive disorders that lead to gastrointestinal disease vary from condition to condition and are different for every person. However, there are common symptoms of gastrointestinal disease including:

  • Abdominal discomfort such as bloating, pain or cramps
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhoea and constipation
  • Difficulty swallowing saliva or food

It’s important to seek consultation with your healthcare provider or a gastroenterologist for any persisting or alarming symptoms of your digestive health.

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