Digestive Health & Disorders

Your digestive health is a very important aspect of your overall health and well-being. There are many health issues and disorders that can affect your digestive system.

Keep reading to find out more about common digestive disorders and how to promote a healthy digestive system.

Common Digestive Disorders

Constipation

Constipation can make you feel uncomfortable and bloated. Constipation can cause infrequent bowel movements and stools that are difficult to pass. Constipation generally refers to having less than three bowel movements a week. Constipation can be occasional or chronic. Constipation is a common issue that most people will face at one time or another. The frequency that people have bowel movements vary from person to person. The symptoms of constipation include:

  • Hard stools
  • Few bowel movements
  • Belly pain
  • Small stools
  • Feeling full
  • Straining to pass stools
  • Bloating
  • Feeling as though there is a blockage in your digestive tract

Constipation may be caused by many different things. A few of the main causes of constipation include:

  • Eating disorders
  • Stress
  • Too little fiber or water in diet
  • Colon cancer
  • Overuse of laxatives
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Not being active
  • Dietary changes
  • Certain medications and medical treatments
  • Certain neurological conditions
  • Hypothyroidism

There are many treatment options available to those who are experiencing constipation. Simple dietary changes like adding foods rich in fiber including fruits and vegetables can make a great difference in your digestive health. Drinking more water can also help to alleviate constipation. Being active can also help to alleviate constipation because it can promote digestive movement. If you have persistent or chronic constipation, you should make an appointment with your doctor to determine the cause. Your doctor will also help you decide what would be the best treatment option for you.

Diarrhea

Diarrhea occurs when your stools are loose, watery and sudden. Diarrhea is very common and may occur for a variety of different reasons. Diarrhea can cause bloating, cramps, an urgent feeling that you need to go have a bowel movement, watery bowel movements and fever. It is important to drink lots of fluids if so that you do not become dehydrated. Diarrhea can be caused by an intestinal flu, alcohol abuse, diabetes, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, diabetes, certain foods, food poisoning, radiation therapy, hypothyroidism, malabsorption and more. Diarrhea is common and will usually resolve on its own with rest and proper hydration. If your diarrhea persists or you have worrisome symptoms, you should make an appointment with your doctor. Your doctor will be able to help you determine what the cause of your diarrhea is and how to effectively treat it.

Diverticulitis

Diverticulitis occurs when the diverticula (small pouches that may form in the lining of the digestive tract) become inflamed or infected. Diverticula are often found in the lower part of the colon. Common symptoms of diverticulitis may include change in bowel habits including constipation and diarrhea, fever, severe abdominal pain and tenderness- which may be constant and persistent, fever and nausea. Diverticulitis can be caused by age, obesity, smoking, lack of physical activity, fatty diet and more. Diverticulitis can be treated in a variety of ways. The most common ways of treating diverticulitis include rest, changes in the diet, doctor prescribed treatment and surgery. Diverticulitis can be treated effectively with proper care.

Lactose Intolerance

Lactose intolerance refers to a digestive disorder in which people are unable to properly digest lactose. Lactose is the sugar that is found in milk. Lactose intolerance can cause a variety of different symptoms including diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, bloating and gas after eating or drinking dairy products. If you experience these symptoms after eating or drinking dairy products, you should make an appointment with your doctor. Your doctor will help you to find out what is causing your symptoms so that it can be effectively treated.

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is a triggered immune response that occurs after a person eats gluten. Gluten is a type of protein that is found in wheat, barley and rye. Celiac disease can damage the lining of your small intestine over time. It can also prevent the absorption of vital nutrients which is called malabsorption. Malabsorption can affect growth and development in children, and can affect the overall health of adults. Common symptoms include diarrhea, fatigue, joint pain, weight loss, rash, osteoporosis, abdominal discomfort, anemia, headaches, bloating, and more. If you are experiencing diarrhea or pain in your abdomen you should visit your doctor. Your doctor will be able to help to determine if you have celiac disease and if you should try a gluten-free diet.