Digestive Disorder

10 Common Digestive Disorders And Their Symptoms


"The digestive system is an intricate network in the human body. It begins at the mouth and ends at the rectum. The digestive system helps the body absorb all the essential nutrients from the food we eat and also helps the body get rid of all the waste material. "

Since the digestive system is a big network and performs several functions, it is ought to get ill sometimes. Although minor problems are normal, but if you experience prolonged distress, you must get yourself checked by a doctor because sometimes digestive discomfort may indicate some serious problems. Here are 10 common digestive disorders and their symptoms that you must watch out for.

  1. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) : Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD is a digestive disorder. It occurs when the acidic juices in the stomach or food and fluids make their way back up to the esophagus from the stomach. The condition can cause heartburn and damage the esophagus over time. It can affect people of all ages. 

    Symptoms of GERD include:

    • Burning sensation in the chest (heartburn) especially after eating
    • Chest pain
    • Difficulty swallowing
    • Regurgitation of food or sour liquid
    • Sensation of a lumpy presence in the throat
    • Chronic cough
    • Laryngitis
    • Asthma (Worsening symptoms in those already suffering from it)
    • Disrupted sleep cycle
  2. Peptic Ulcer Disease (PUD) : Peptic ulcer disease causes the development of open sores on the inner lining of the stomach (gastric ulcers) and in the upper region of the small intestine (duodenal ulcers).Most common causes of PUD are infections caused by the bacterium Helicobacter Pylori or due to the long-term uses of certain nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and smoking.

    Symptoms of PUD include:

    • Burning stomach pain
    • Feeling of fullness
    • Bloating or belching
    • Intolerance to fatty foods
    • Heartburn
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting or vomiting blood
    • Blood in stools Stools that are black or tarry
    • Unintended weight loss
    • Unexplained changes in appetite
  3. Viral Gastroenteritis or Stomach Flu : Viral gastroenteritis, or what’s commonly referred to as stomach flu, is an infection that occurs in the stomach and often the upper part of the small intestine. The most common cause that leads to the development of viral gastroenteritis is eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water, or by sharing utensils, towel or food with an infected person. Recovering from this condition without any complications is easy for healthy individuals, but for infants, older adults, and people with compromised immunity, the condition can be deadly.

    Symptoms of stomach flu include:

    • Watery diarrhea (non-bloody)
    • Abdominal cramps and pain
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Muscle aches or headache
    • Low-grade fever
  4. Chronic Diarrhea : Diarrhea is often characterized by loose, watery and more frequent bowel movements. It is a very common problem that affects almost everyone once in a while. However, if your diarrhea lasts for over a week, you may be suffering something more. Chronic diarrhea can be caused by a number of reasons such as viruses, bacteria and parasites, medication, lactose intolerance, artificial sweeteners, and more. If the condition is not treated in time, it can lead to other major digestive health issues.

    Symptoms of chronic diarrhea include:

    • Loose, watery stools
    • Abdominal cramps
    • Stomach ache
    • Fever
    • Blood or mucus in the stool
    • Bloating
    • Nausea
    • Frequent urge to pass stool
  5. Chronic Constipation : Just like diarrhea, constipation too is a very common digestive problem, however, when the condition is chronic it can lead to various other health issues. Chronic constipation is infrequent bowel movements or difficulty passing stool. The condition is characterized by passing fewer than three stools a week.

    Symptoms of chronic constipation include:

    • Having fewer than three bowel movements a week
    • Passing lumpy or hard stools
    • Straining to pass stool
    • Feeling of blockage in the rectum
    • Feeling of incomplete stool passage
  6. Hemorrhoids : Hemorrhoids, commonly referred to as piles, are swollen veins in the anus and lower rectum. They can either develop inside the rectum or under the skin near the anus. Depending on where the swelling develops, hemorrhoids are classified as internal or external hemorrhoids. The condition is completely and easily treatable.

    Symptoms of hemorrhoids:

    1. External hemorrhoids
      • Aggressive itching or irritation in the anal region
      • Pain and discomfort
      • Swelling around your anus
      • Bleeding
    2. Internal hemorrhoids
      • Blood in the stool or painless bleeding
  7. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) :  Inflammatory bowel diseases is a term used to describe disorders that cause inflammation in the digestive tract. There are two major types of IBD which are as follows:

    Ulcerative colitis: A condition that involves inflammation and ulcers (sores) in the lining of the colon and rectum.

    Crohn’s disease: It causes inflammation in the lining of the digestive tract, and can also cause inflammation and irritation in the deeper layers of the digestive tract. If not treated on time, the condition can be debilitating and sometimes leads to mortal complications.

    Symptoms of IBD:

    • Diarrhea
    • Fatigue
    • Abdominal pain and cramping
    • Blood in the stool
    • Unexplained decrease in appetite
    • Unintended weight loss
  8. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) :  Irritable bowel syndrome is a rather common digestive disorder that affects the large intestine. It often causes pain in the stomach, diarrhea or constipation. The condition can be easily managed by altering certain lifestyle habits and by managing diet and stress. Severe cases can be treated with medical interventions.

    Symptoms of IBS:

    • Abdominal pain and cramping
    • Bloating
    • Changes in the appearance of stool
    • Changes in the frequency of bowel movements
  9. Gallstones : Gallstones are solid deposits that form in the gallbladder. They are often hardened digestive fluids. The gallbladder is an organ placed on the right side of the abdomen just beneath the liver. It holds bile just (a digestive fluid) that is released into the small intestine while digestion. The presence of gallstones can interrupt the digestive process and lead to other digestive problems.

    The size of the stones can range from a sand grain to a golf ball. Some patients develop just one gallstone, while others develop several. Gallstones that cause major discomfort and may need to be removed by surgery.

    Symptoms of gallstones:

    • Sudden and intensifying pain in the upper right or the center of the abdomen
    • Back pain
    • Pain between the shoulder blades
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
  10. Gas: Gas in the digestive tract is a part of the normal digestive process. Getting rid of the excess gas by burping or flatus is also normal. However, if the gas is trapped or is not moving through the digestive system, it may cause pain and discomfort.

    Symptoms of gas:

    • Excessive Burping and flatus
    • Pain, cramps or knotted feeling in the abdomen
    • Bloating
    • Observable increase in the size of the abdomen
    • Bloody stools
    • Change in the consistency of stools
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Chest pain

Alarming features like, Age > 50 years, Blood in stool, Weight loss. Need early Evalution.

Dr Ravishankar Reddy
Dr Ravishankar Reddy
Consultant – Medical Gastroenterologist & Endoscopist

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author. They do not reflect the opinions or views of the organization.


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