Digestive Disorders

Written by Jacey Harmon
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Every year, over 60 million Americans are diagnosed with some type of digestive disorder. Digestive disorders can range from common diarrhea to fatal stomach cancer. Most digestive diseases are complex and we have yet to identify direct causes for many of them. They may be inherited or brought on by stress, smoking, alcohol abuse, and fatigue. Having a clear understanding of personal/family medical history and a thorough examination are essential to properly diagnosing a digestive disorder.

The human digestive system is complex and requires many organs to work in unison. This may be a contributing factor to the sheer number of different digestive disorders we are susceptible to. Digestion is the process in which our bodies turn food and liquid into usable particles for building and nourishing cells as well as providing energy. The digestion system is made up of the digestive tract and other organs that aid in digestion. The digestion system includes--mouth, esophagus, stomach, small and large intestine, rectum and anus. This doesn't include other organs like the liver and pancreas, which aid in digesting food and liquid. It easy to see why there are so many individuals diagnosed with digestive orders every year.

Common Digestive Disorders

Diarrhea is probably the most common digestive disorder. Diarrhea is defined as watery stool, or more frequent bowel movements. Diarrhea can be a long lasting chronic disorder typically caused by other digestive diseases. Or it can be a short term acute disorder caused by infection from bacteria and viruses. Persistent diarrhea can be a symptom of a more serious disorder or disease; one should be examined by a doctor as soon as possible if the diarrhea doesn't go away.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is another common digestive disorder which affects over 22 million Americans. IBS is a disorder in which the intestinal tract does not work in an orderly fashion. A common symptom for IBS is abdominal pain; IBS sufferers have highly sensitive digestive systems which can be influenced by everything from food to emotions. IBS can ignite a bout of diarrhea or constipation. For reasons unknown, IBS affects about twice as many women as men. Fortunately, IBS is not life threatening and doesn't lead to more serious life threatening diseases or disorders.


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