Gastrointestinal problems are incredibly common, with digestive diseases affecting an estimated 60 to 70 million Americans. Despite this, many people avoid seeking treatment due to the potentially embarrassing symptoms that can be associated with such conditions.
While some digestive issues are minor and easily remedied, others can lead to serious damage if left untreated. Given how easy it is to misjudge and misdiagnose the symptoms of digestive diseases and disorders, it’s helpful to research the common signs and symptoms online before consulting a doctor.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as acid reflux, affects approximately 20% of Americans. It occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter weakens or relaxes when it shouldn’t, allowing stomach acid to flow back up into the esophagus. Symptoms include heartburn, wheezing, sore throat, chronic cough, and difficulty swallowing. Treatment can include lifestyle changes, medication, and surgery.
Gallstones occur when bile, a fluid used in digestion, hardens into deposits. They are common, affecting around 20 million Americans, but can lead to symptoms such as pain, nausea, fever, and infection in about 25% of cases. Treatment usually involves surgery to remove the gallbladder.
Celiac disease is a condition where consuming gluten causes an immune reaction that damages the lining of the small intestine. It affects less than 1% of Americans, while gluten sensitivity affects about 5%. Symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, and bloating.
Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease that affects the digestive tract, causing symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, fever, and loss of appetite. Treatments include anti-inflammatory drugs, immunosuppressants, and surgery.
Ulcerative colitis is another type of inflammatory bowel disease that affects the large intestine. Symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, and weight loss, and can be treated with medication or surgery.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
IBS is a condition where the colon muscle contracts more often than usual, leading to symptoms such as gas, abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. It affects about 10-15% of adults worldwide and is treated by removing trigger foods from the diet, managing stress, and sometimes medication.
Hemorrhoids are swollen blood vessels in the anal canal that can be painful and itchy, and sometimes cause blood in the stool. They are caused by constipation, chronic diarrhea, and pregnancy, and can be treated with creams or suppositories.
Diverticulitis occurs when small pouches form in the digestive system and become inflamed, causing symptoms such as abdominal pain, nausea, fever, diarrhea, or constipation. Treatment can involve antibiotics, a clear liquid diet, or surgery.
Anal fissures are splits or cracks in the lining of the anal opening caused by straining during bowel movements. Symptoms include burning pain, bleeding, or spasm after bowel movements, and treatments can include dietary fiber, medication, topical ointments, and sitz baths.
Peptic ulcers are sores that develop in the stomach or upper part of the small intestine and are typically caused by a bacterial infection, smoking, or medication overuse. They cause stomach pain, nausea, bloating, lack of appetite, and weight loss, and can be treated with antibiotics and antacids.
Constipation occurs when bowel movements are hard to pass or infrequent. It affects most people at some point and can be caused by inadequate fiber intake.
Gastroparesis is a digestive disorder that affects the stomach’s ability to empty its contents, slowing or stopping the movement of food from the stomach to the small intestine. Symptoms include stomach pain, bloating, nausea, vomiting, acid reflux, and loss of appetite. Although the disorder is typically chronic, nutritional changes and medication can help manage symptoms.
Find Help Today
Digestive diseases are a common issue that affects millions of people every year. The 12 most common digestive diseases and disorders vary in their symptoms and treatments, but they all have the potential to cause serious damage if left untreated.
It is important to seek medical advice if you are experiencing symptoms, even if they are potentially embarrassing. With proper diagnosis and treatment, many digestive issues can be easily managed, allowing you to live a healthy, active life. Remember to always consult your doctor if you are experiencing any digestive issues.