The digestive system is one of the important organ systems in the body.
It can be described as a complex, partly self-controlled, essential systems in the body.
A complex system as it has many organs with distinct and specific functions.
Self-controlled as it has its own enteric nervous system controlling it partly beside the central nervous system.
Every part like a buccal cavity, stomach, intestine small and big all have distinct functions and roles. It is an essential system as it is the source of nutrition and energy for the rest of the body.
You may need to be aware of digestive system anatomy and physiology before you read further.
Disorders of the digestive system seem to be less concerned in terms of health and severity, unlike the cardiac, brain, diabetes-like disorders as they are comparatively less life-threatening.
In reality, most of the population is prone to some or other digestive disorders very often and the conditions subside gradually without involving major risks.
But recently due to a change in lifestyle, food habits, pollution, etc, the digestive system is prone to more severe and life-threatening disorders.
A glance into Disorders of the Digestive System
7. Indigestion etc.
9. Piles & fissures.
10. Irritable bowel syndrome.
11. Inflammatory bowel disorder.
Before going into details, let’s see what are the mistakes from our side.
a) Eating for taste without consciousness about the effect on the stomach. For instance pickle, fried foods, chili related items are consumed vastly for the desire of taste. It is seen that people consuming more pickles are prone to cancer in the intestine. This is because in the mouth the taste buds are satisfied by pickle but it is very harsh on delicate layers of the intestine due to chili and other components in it.
b) Delaying or neglecting hunger: Many times in the office or at work, we delay lunch with a preference for other works. This may seem fine once or more but in the long run, it leads to ulcers and other stomach trouble.
c) Neglecting any pain or trouble in the stomach: There are instances that a person suffers from some sort of pain in the stomach and neglects it. Latter these cases lead to heavy surgical procedures and sometimes resulted in death.
d) Eating in a hurry: Eating has steps like chewing, allowing the food in the stomach to settle, etc. So it is good if one haves his meal with a composed mind with sufficient time and then has a small-time for relaxation of his stomach and body by just sitting at-least This helps food to move into the gut easier and also settle properly for further action by the stomach. You can find many suffering from acidity, ulcers, etc in cases they eat in a hurry and have no relaxation after a meal.
e) Lifestyle: Digestive system function depends on daily activity A person with active life will have fluent digestion, appetite, movement of bowels (without constipation). But a person with a sedentary lifestyle will have all of the related problems. So try to be active, by body movements, walking, daily exercises, etc.
Digestive system disorders in detail:
Ulcers: Ulcer is a small patch like damaged tissue in the mucous layers. These are formed due to necrosis of tissue at the point.
Their formation can range from the buccal cavity, throat, esophagus, stomach, and also intestine.
But we commonly see ulcers in the mouth and stomach. Ulcers in the mouth can be due to constipation and also lack of vitamin-B (folic acid especially). These are not so troublesome and can be easily identified and controlled.
Ulcers in the stomach & duodenum (peptic ulcer): The ulcers in the stomach can be fatal. These are not easily identified unless there is severe pain. Sometimes people suffering from ulcers do-not recognize till the stage of internal bleeding and might lead to death.
They seem to form in people with alcoholism, prolonged hunger, frequent acidity conditions, consumption of heavy pickles, fried foods, frequent travelers like marketing people, etc.
But the fortunate aspect is the stomach mucous is too fast in regrowth and can heal the ulcers. So from our side, we need to improve our lifestyle like eating, sleeping at the right time, etc. That means peptic ulcers are lifestyle-related.
In the modern lifestyle, ulcer formation is enhanced due to mental stress. Even if one is given the best of the treatment, the ulcers do not heal if stress is not minimized. So there is a direct relationship between stress and ulcer.
There is a microbe that is thought to be a causative agent to an acidic ulcer. This is a bacteria residing in the gut mucosa namely helicobacter pyroli. This also has to be eradicated for the effective treatment of ulcers.
Diarrhea: It is simply loose motion, where one needs to run to clear bowels frequently and untimely manner. This is considered a cleaning solution of GIT by the elderly. And they are right if it lasts only for a short time or a few times. But if it is ravenous with uncontrolled nature, it is worth to think of treatment.
It mostly occurs when the intestinal movement is disordered. This is due to allergenic foods, mild poisons, infections like cholera, etc. In the long run, it makes one weak due to the loss of fluids and essential minerals. It is generally controlled by drugs slowing down intestinal motility. For an idea refer to the article on drug action.
Dysentery: This is similar to diarrhea but is attended with severe pain in the abdomen. This is mostly due to bacterial or amoebic infection (amoebic dysentery). There is frequent passage of a small quantity of stool, mucus, or even blood. It needs immediate attention or else may get complicated. Mostly antibiotics or antimicrobials are given. But interestingly when excess antibiotics are used, friendly bacteria that help in the formation of vitamins and other essentials are also killed.
Acidity: A burning or painful sensation in the upper part of the abdomen. This is due to excess secretion of gastric acid or untimely secretion of gastric acid. This in the long run can lead to peptic ulcers. Timely consumption of meals and/ or consumption of small quantities of a meal at frequent intervals helps overcome the condition. Also, check your bowel movement. If you delay or neglect your daily nature calls, even then you can feel acidity. So acidity is more related to overall gut condition besides food alone.
Constipation: A condition of incomplete evacuation of bowels due to lack of intestinal motility or hardness of the stool. This is seen predominantly in older people and those with a sedentary lifestyle. This can be very uncomfortable and inconvenient for the person. He may develop acidity, lack of appetite (hunger), etc. Having fibrous food, fruits like bananas and sufficient water helps relieve constipation. Besides some physical activity involving walking helps relieve the condition.
Indigestion: This is seen in elderly people mostly. It can also be seen in children who are sick or overfed. Active life along with the support of some digestive enhancers (enzymes) can help solve the issue.
Vomiting: This is a forceful and involuntary expulsion of contents of the stomach out of the buccal cavity. This can be due to
♦ Local irritation in the stomach as seen in alcoholics or when some poison is consumed.
♦ It can be due to central vomiting reflex stimulation in the brain.
♦ It can also be due to a journey or other sickness stimulated by a postural imbalance in the ear.
Vomiting is a type of protective phenomenon to vacate irritable material in the stomach. But those vomiting related to journey sort can be troublesome and uncomfortable. Drugs that force propulsion of stomach contents into the intestine at a faster rate help relieve vomiting. Also, those which can prevent central vomiting reflex are advisable in case vomiting related to the journey.
Cancers: Cancer in the gut is one of the most fatal types of cancers. This is because they are least noticed in the early stages, their spread can be easier and local physical damage can puncture the tract and lead to bleeding and death.
Piles: Piles is an external projection of small and painful bulged structures. These are formed due to excess heat, lack of water or moisture content in the rectum and also inflammation. The symptom of pain on walking, running is seen. In the first stage of symptoms just increasing water uptake and avoiding peppered and fried food including chicken, eggs and having mild diets like milk, fruits, etc. can solve the issue. In the second stage, the symptoms can subside by medication. In the third stage, a surgical procedure is needed.
For more see, symptoms and treatment of piles.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): This is thought to be due to stress and irregular lifestyle. The symptoms like abdominal cramps, diarrhea, constipation, etc. are seen.
Inflammatory bowel disorder: This is an inflammatory condition of the intestine. There is pain, abdominal cramps, fever, and diarrhea.
The digestive system is a key one as it is the entry point to any substance into the body. So it should be kept healthy and active. It is the cause of more than 90% of disorders in the body. So it has to be taken care of a lot. Stress is one of the root causes of its malfunction and so one needs to keep away stress by yoga and exercises. Also eating green and organic foods and keeping away from junk foods helps. Fibrous foods like fruits, corn, grains with any spice and oil help it stay hydrated and motile.