By Dr. Sougata Kumar Hui, General Physician
The human digestive system is a very complicated and sizeable component of the body. It starts right at the beginning of the mouth, ending at the rectum. Some of the major responsibilities of the digestive system include the absorption of essential nutrients and elimination of wastes.
Not only do digestive problems have embarrassing and unwanted symptoms, serious, but chronic diseases can also be caused if the minor problems are not treated.
Some digestive problems are listed below:
- GERD: This is a burning sensation that results from acids in the stomach being squirted into the oesophagus. A burning sensation is felt, right from the chest to the end of the throat. Frequent heartburns can lead to GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease), symptoms of which include dry cough, sore throat, chest discomfort and difficulty in swallowing.
- Bloating: This is caused due to the presence of excess gas in the colon, small intestines or the stomach.
- Dyspepsia: This is an uncomfortable feeling or pain which occurs in the upper abdominal regions, mostly a result of excess food intake. It is commonly referred to as indigestion. Dyspepsia can be discomforting and if prolonged, medical assistance should be opted for.
- Chronic Constipation: Persistent constipation (chronic) is a sign that there is a problem with the elimination of wastes. This usually happens when the colon is unable to move or pass stools. Other major causes of chronic constipation can be changes in your usual diet, various eating disorders, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and excessive consumption of dairy products among others.
- Food Intolerance: This occurs when the digestive system is unable to tolerate certain food items. This condition is different from food allergies as it only affects the digestive system. Some of the common symptoms include diarrhoea, headache, gas and vomiting.
Possible Serious Conditions-
A gastroenterologist is a type of doctor that specializes in diagnosing and treating diseases involving the digestive system. If you continue to experience digestion problems, it’s time to make an appointment.
More serious signs could mean an emergency medical problem. Those signs include:
- bloody stools
- continuous vomiting
- severe abdominal cramps
- sudden, unintentional weight loss
These symptoms could be an indication of an infection, gallstones, hepatitis, internal bleeding, or cancer.
You may be able to overcome digestion problems with treatment and lifestyle changes. Certain diseases of the digestive system might be long-term, but medications can help alleviate symptoms.
Identifying specific digestion problems and talking with a gastroenterologist can go a long way in terms of helping your doctor give you a proper diagnosis. Remember, you don’t have to put up with constant digestive issues.