There’s a lot going on inside the human body! Of all the systems working away inside us, the digestive system is one of the most complex and essential. However, there are many things that can go wrong inside us. Here are 5 digestive problems you need to know about!
You have probably heard of irritable bowel syndrome. A relatively common condition, IBS tends to manifest as abdominal pain, bloating and irregular bowel movements. It is often associated with flatulence, although gas is usually the cause of the IBS, not the other way around. Influencing factors include gut bacteria, diet, food intolerance, and bile salt malabsorption.
Often confused with IBS, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can be sub-divided into Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, both of which inflame the digestive tract. Crohn’s can affect any part of the digestive tract from mouth to anus, while colitis is limited to the colon. Both variations of IBD are most common in young people. The causes are poorly understood, but it is believed that colitis can be triggered by certain infections and drugs.
Most of us will have experienced indigestion – a burning or bloating sensation in our gut, which often occurs after eating. Indigestion is a symptom rather than a condition, and can be caused by acid reflux and IBS, among others.
A by-product of long-term acid reflux, Barrett’s oesophagus is most commonly found in people with GORD (gastro-oesophageal reflux disease). The stomach acid that is regurgitated into the gullet causes a change in the cells lining the bottom of the oesophagus, becoming more like intestinal cells. Although this is to protect the oesophagus from the effect of the acid, the new cells are prone to turning pre-cancerous, meaning patients with Barrett’s require close monitoring by gastroenterologists.
A relatively common bacteria found in many people’s stomachs, H. pylori was only recognised by scientists in the 1980s. It very often causes no ill effects, and may play a role in digestion, or in the ecosystem of the stomach. However, in some people it has been linked to the development of peptic ulcers.