Gastrointestinal disorders or digestive problems

Recommend to others!

1. Overview

Gastrointestinal tract is a long muscular tube that functions as a food processor for the human body. The digestive system consists of mouth and salivary glands, stomach, small intestine and large intestine, liver, pancreas, colon and gallbladder.

Irritation and inflammation of various parts of the gastrointestinal tract are identified as gastritis (stomach), colitis (colon), ileitis (ileum or small intestine), hepatitis (liver), and cholecystitis (gallbladder).

Gastrointestinal system is not a passive system. It has sensorial role and reacts to materials flowing through it. To have a healthy digestive system, every person needs different types and amounts of food.


1. Overview
2. Digestion
3. Dietary changes and gastrointestinal disorders
4. Symptoms of gastrointestinal disorders
5. Diagnosis
6. Psychological evaluation
7. Investigations
8. Endoscopy
9. Capsule endoscopy
10. Laparoscopy

2. Digestion

Gastrointestinal system breaks down foods by using mechanical forces (chewing) and then acts on them through a series of complex chemical processes. These chemical processes include everything from saliva to bacteria in the colon. Because the gastrointestinal system is one entrance gate of the body, everything a person eats has a relevant impact on his body.

Food that reach to the gastrointestinal system contain not only nutrients, but toxins too. Toxins can be of many kinds, from food additives to pesticides. Digestion takes place on the surface of the gastrointestinal tract by the action of auxiliary gland secretions. The two glands providing the majority of chemicals used by the gastrointestinal system are the liver and the pancreas.

Liver function is to maintain control of food surplus for the entire body by processing of food molecules absorbed in the intestines. The liver accomplishes this by eliminating these food molecules and controlled by filtering toxins that can enter the body through the gastrointestinal tract wall.

An important feature of the gastrointestinal system is that it is a sensory organ. Digestive system protects the body by detecting food that can adversely affect a person’s health by rejecting them through emesis, diarrhea or other symptoms. On its surface, the gastrointestinal system has a complex of nerve and diverse cells belonging to the immune system.

Surface or lining of the gastrointestinal tract is part of a complex detection system called MALT. Among the responses to immune sensors triggered by MALT include nausea, vomiting, pain and inflammation. Vomiting and diarrhea are defensive reactions when foods contain toxic or allergic components.

These types of food intolerance are responsible for many digestive problems. Gastrointestinal system communicates with the brain at a hormone level, being a neurotransmitter with mediating role between the brain and some chemicals.

Gastrointestinal system is a muscular tube that contracts in controlled rate to move food into different sections (peristalsis). The intensity and duration of contractions can cause cramping and diarrhea. If the contractions are slow and irregular constipation occurs. To describe a problem of intestinal peristalsis doctors use the term motility disorder.

The main causes of gastrointestinal problems are food allergies. Many chronic illnesses can be triggered by these types of allergies. Dysfunction, gastrointestinal discomfort and diseases of immune responses may result from selections or combinations of certain foods.

Diets preferred by a good number of people contain meat and dairy products high in fat, high concentrations of protein, soluble fats and toxins. Misinformation about healthy diets negatively affects human nutritional needs.

Chewing, swallowing and peristalsis are part of mechanical digestion in which food is broken down into tiny particles and is covered by digestive juices and transported through the digestive tract. Digestive enzymes break down the large molecules of food into smaller molecules that can be absorbed into the bloodstream or lymph after the chemical process of digestion.

3. Dietary changes and gastrointestinal disorders

According to human evolutionary history, humans are primarily herbivores. Human saliva contains alpha-amylase, a special enzyme whose main role is to break down complex carbohydrates into sugar compounds. A person’s teeth are designed to cut the vegetables during chewing.

The human digestive system has an important length and foods are processed slow in order to extract all the nutrients from the vegetable foods consumed. In contrast, carnivores have short digestive tract as meat is digested very quickly.

Carnivore’s digestive system is able to eliminate a fairly large amount of cholesterol that is part of their diet; carnivores have no alpha-amylase present in their saliva. Dietary changes over the past 100 years have led to heartburn, peptic ulcers and many other gastrointestinal disorders.

4. Symptoms of gastrointestinal disorders

There are five main symptoms that indicate a gastrointestinal problem. These events are generally associated with specific food allergies or dietary problems. It is very important that anyone suffering from serious gastrointestinal system problems to collaborate with his doctor to prevent aggravation of these diseases and to detect those already present.

- Nausea and vomiting – These can range from a feeling of discomfort in the stomach ailments to sudden violent vomiting. Patients with symptoms of nausea and vomiting should take into account the possibility of ingestion of a food poisoning reactive or a pathogen such as Salmonella.

Vomiting that occur immediately after eating is usually preceded by excessive salivation. Sometimes low intensity chronic nausea can install; this is caused by minor allergies or various kinds of combinations of inadequate foods.

Minor symptoms of nausea disappear along with dietary changes. Nausea and vomiting associated with migraines can be caused by food allergies.

- Bloating – Bloating can result from excess gas accumulated in the digestive tract due to digestive tract failure to support initial peristaltic contractions or may be due to insufficient amounts of digestive enzymes and bile acids needed to break down food. Accumulation of intestinal gas is different from that which occurs in the colon.

- Constipation – Constipation consist in low frequency or slowing of the peristalsis process, resulting in difficulty removing the stools. Feces can accumulate in the colon and may result in toxic reactions and pain.

The spastic colon is the consequence of colon’s contractions accompanied by painful spasms caused by feces movements blocking. Some patients experience constipation often followed by severe diarrhea and watery stools accompanied by abdominal cramps.

- Diarrhea – Diarrhea is the effect of increased frequency of bowel movements accompanied by loose or watery stools. When diarrhea occurs frequently must consider the possibility of celiac disease, which allows certain macromolecules penetrate through the intestinal wall.

When blood appears in the stool the cause may be the ulcerative colitis. Prolonged crises of diarrhea can lead to nutritional deficiencies because of poor absorption of essential nutrients.

- Abdominal pain – occurs in different forms and intensities. Cramps are caused by muscle spasms of abdominal organs. Severe or colic cramps are the response to allergic reactions to food.

Abdominal cramps located near the navel come from the small intestine, while sides pain and pain of the lower abdomen is associated with colon problems. Sometimes, some of the conditions that occur in the gastrointestinal system include depression, migraines, asthma, sinusitis and fibromyalgia.

5. Diagnosis

Usually, a doctor can determine if a person suffers from a digestive disorder based on medical history and physical examination. The doctor will determine what procedures are more appropriate in order to confirm the diagnosis and severity of disease. Then he will recommend appropriate treatment plan.

- Medical history and physical exam – The specialist will identify the symptoms by interviewing the patient and by studying the details obtained after medical history exposure. Among the questions asked by doctors include:
- What type of pain is felt?,
- Does the pain relieve after meals?
- Pain worsens when a person bends or bend legs lying down?

During the physical exam, the doctor will evaluate the patient’s weight and general appearance, these being indicators of possible digestive disorders.

During the exam, the emphasis will be placed on the abdomen, anus and rectum. First, the abdomen will be observed from different angles, will look for a possible expansion (distention) of the abdominal wall which could mean increase in size of an organ. The specialist will place a stethoscope on the abdomen with which will listen the specific sounds of a normal bowel movements and try to detect any abnormal sounds.

The doctor will try to find any signs of abnormal masses or distension of organs. The pain that is caused by a slight pressure on the abdomen and which disappears when the pressure is removed usually indicates inflammation and sometimes infection of the lining of the abdominal cavity (peritonitis).

The anus and rectum are examined by using a finger and a sample of stool will be analyzed to ascertain if there is any occult bleeding in the stool. In women, pelvic examination help distinguish the gynecological problems of the digestive ones.

6. Psychological evaluation

Considering that between the digestive system and the brain is an interdependence relation, sometimes a psychological evaluation may be necessary in the evaluation of digestive problems. In such cases, doctors do not believe that digestive problems are invented or imagined.

Gastrointestinal disorders may result from anxiety, depression or other treatable psychiatric disorders – situations encountered in more than 50% of people with symptoms of digestive disorders.

7. Investigations

Based on findings from medical history exposure and, if any, psychological evaluation, doctors decide which are the appropriate investigations. Tests may involve the use of endoscopes, X-ray radiography, ultrasound, small amounts of radioactive material, the capsule endoscope and chemical measurements.

These tests can help the specialist to locate, diagnose and treat the condition. Some investigations require to consume no food for 8-12 hours, while others do not require any preparation.

8. Endoscopy

Endoscopy involves the examination of internal structures using a flexible tube that end with a camera and a light source. The endoscope can be used to examine the esophagus, stomach, upper small intestine, rectum or lower part of the colon, rectum and anus (sigmoidoscopy), large intestine, rectum and anus (colonoscopy).

For more procedures than anoscope and sigmoidoscopy, the patient will be given medication intravenously to prevent discomfort.

9. Capsule endoscopy

Capsule endoscopy is a procedure in which the patient swallows a capsule that contains one or two small cameras with a light source and a transmitter. Such images of intestinal mucosa will be transmitted to a receiver worn on a belt by the person concerned and can be received thousands of images.

This technique is useful for detecting problems involving symptoms that occur on the surface of the small intestine, an area difficult to assess the endoscope.

10. Laparoscopy

Laparoscopy is an examination of the abdominal cavity with the endoscope while the patient is under general anesthesia. After disinfects the skin (topical) will make a small incision and an endoscope is inserted into the abdominal cavity.

The doctor will look for any tumors or abnormalities and will examine any organ in the abdominal cavity. He will take samples of tissue and could intervene surgically. Complications include bleeding, infection and perforation.



Speak Your Mind


Current day month ye@r *