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Gastrointestinal Disorders

Highlights

Gastrointestinal disorders include such conditions as constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, hemorrhoids, anal fissures, perianal abscesses, anal fistulas, perianal infections, diverticular diseases, colitis, colon polyps and cancer. Many of these can be prevented or minimized by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, practicing good bowel habits, and submitting to cancer screening.

What are functional gastrointestinal disorders?

Functional disorders are those in which the gastrointestinal (GI) tract looks normal but doesn’t work properly. They are the most common problems affecting the GI tract (including the colon and rectum). Constipation and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are two common examples.

Many factors may upset the GI tract and its motility (or ability to keep moving), including:

  • Eating a diet low in fiber
  • Not enough exercise
  • Traveling or other changes in routine
  • Eating large amounts of dairy products
  • Stress
  • Resisting the urge to have a bowel movement
  • Resisting the urge to have bowel movements due to pain from hemorrhoids
  • Overusing laxatives (stool softeners) that, over time, weaken the bowel muscles
  • Taking antacid medicines containing calcium or aluminum
  • Taking certain medicines (especially antidepressants, iron pills, and strong pain medicines such as narcotics)
  • Pregnancy

Types of diseases includes:

– Constipation

– Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Symptoms of IBS include:

  • Abdominal pain and cramps
  • Excess gas
  • Bloating
  • Change in bowel habits such as harder, looser, or more urgent stools than normal
  • Alternating constipation and diarrhea

Treatment includes:

  • Avoiding caffeine
  • Increasing fiber in the diet
  • Monitoring which foods trigger IBS (and avoiding these foods)
  • Minimizing stress or learning different ways to cope with stress
  • Sometimes taking medicines as prescribed by your healthcare provider

– Hemorrhoids

  • Internal hemorrhoids
  • External hemorrhoids

– Anal fissures

– Perianal abscesses

– Anal fistula

– Other perianal infections

– Diverticular disease

– Colon polyps and cancer

– Colitis

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