Digestive Disorders

What are digestive disorders?

A digestive disorder is a condition affecting any part of the digestive tract, including the oesophagus, stomach, small intestine or large intestine. While some digestive disorders can be serious and potentially life-threatening, most are acute conditions that are accompanied by mildly uncomfortable symptoms. The duration of digestive disorders varies, ranging from viral illnesses lasting for a day or two to chronic conditions that last a lifetime.

Examples of digestive disorders include the following:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Pancreatitis
  • Gallstones
  • Stomach or colon cancer
  • Celiac disease
  • Gastritis
  • Peptic ulcers
  • Intestinal blockage


What is indigestion?

Indigestion is a general term for a set of symptoms that are sometimes associated with digestive disorders. Everyone experiences indigestion from time to time, but it usually a result of lifestyle factors that can easily be changed.

The symptoms of indigestion include the following:

  • You feel uncomfortably full during or immediately after a meal
  • You feel discomfort, pain or a burning sensation in your upper abdomen
  • You feel bloated and your clothing may seem unusually tight
  • You experience uncontrolled belching
  • Severe indigestion may be accompanied by nausea and vomiting

Although indigestion can be a symptom of a digestive disorder, it has several other possible causes, including the following:

  • Overeating or finishing a meal too quickly
  • Overconsumption of caffeine, alcohol and carbonated drinks
  • Overconsumption of fatty or spicy foods
  • Some medications
  • Anxiety


How do I know if I might have a digestive disorder?

The symptoms of digestive disorders vary widely depending on the condition, but some common things to look out for include the following:

  • Indigestion that persists in spite of lifestyle changes
  • Irregular bowel movements, constipation or diarrhea
  • Unintentional or unexplained weight gain or loss
  • Dark blood in the stool
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Unexplained exhaustion, which could indicate anemia

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