~Dr. Raghav Thukral
GERD, diarrhea and colorectal cancer are examples of gastrointestinal diseases. When examined, some diseases show nothing wrong with the GI tract, but there are still symptoms. Other diseases have symptoms, and there are also visible irregularities in the GI tract. Most gastrointestinal diseases can be prevented and/or treated.
What are gastrointestinal diseases?
Gastrointestinal diseases affect the gastrointestinal (GI) tract from the mouth to the anus. There are two types: functional and structural. Some examples include nausea/vomiting, food poisoning, lactose intolerance and diarrhea.
What are functional gastrointestinal diseases?
Functional diseases are those in which the GI tract looks normal when examined, but doesn’t move properly. They are the most common problems affecting the GI tract (including the colon and rectum). Constipation, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), nausea, food poisoning, gas, bloating, GERD and diarrhea are common examples.
Many factors may upset your GI tract and its motility (ability to keep moving), including:
- Eating a diet low in fiber.
- Not getting enough exercise.
- Traveling or other changes in routine.
- Eating large amounts of dairy products.
- Resisting the urge to have a bowel movement, possibly because of hemorrhoids.
- Overusing anti-diarrheal medications that, over time, weaken the bowel muscle movements called motility.
- Taking antacid medicines containing calcium or aluminum.
- Taking certain medicines (especially antidepressants, iron pills and strong pain medicines such as narcotics).
What are structural gastrointestinal diseases?
Structural gastrointestinal diseases are those where your bowel looks abnormal upon examination and also doesn’t work properly. Sometimes, the structural abnormality needs to be removed surgically. Common examples of structural GI diseases include strictures, stenosis, hemorrhoids, diverticular disease, colon polyps, colon cancer and inflammatory bowel disease.
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Internal hemorrhoids
- External hemorrhoids
- Anal fissures
- Perianal abscesses
- Anal fistula
- Other perianal infections
- Diverticular disease
- Colon polyps and cancer
- The importance of screening