8 Common Digestive Problems

IndigestionDealing with stomach pain, ulcers, reflux, constipation, Crohn’s disease, and more.


Symptoms of reflux, such as heartburn, are among the most common digestive ills. Such frequent symptoms may indicate a person has GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease. Aside from being painful, GERD can harm the esophagus over time or even lead to esophageal cancer.

Peptic Ulcers

If you have unexplained stomach pain, consider this before reaching for a painkiller: “The worst thing to do if ulcers are suspected is to take aspirin or other NSAID [nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug] pain reducers,”


Only a quarter of people with gallstones typically require treatment. That’s fortunate, because every year nearly 1 million Americans are diagnosed with these little pebbles, which are primarily made of cholesterol and bile salts. Getting rid of them typically requires removal of the gallbladder, one of the most common surgeries.

Lactose Intolerance

  • The term lactose intolerance is applied to the development of characteristic symptoms after the ingestion of lactose: abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence, diarrhea, and, particularly in adolescents, vomiting.
  • Intolerance to lactose-containing foods (primarily dairy products) is common. In Europe and the United States, the prevalence is 7 to 20 percent in Caucasian adults (being lowest in those of northern European extraction), and is as high as 80 to 95 percent among Native Americans, 65 to 75 percent among Africans and African Americans, and 50 percent in Hispanics. The prevalence exceeds 90 percent in some populations in eastern Asia.


Abdominal pain is the most common complaint in patients with acute diverticulitis. The pain is usually in the left lower quadrant due to involvement of the sigmoid colon. However, patients may have right lower quadrant or suprapubic pain due to the presence of a redundant inflamed sigmoid colon or, much less commonly, right-sided (cecal) diverticulitis which has a higher incidence in Asian populations.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is comprised of two major disorders: ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn disease (CD). UC affects the colon and is characterized by inflammation of the mucosal layer. CD can involve any component of the gastrointestinal tract from the oral cavity to the anus and is characterized by transmural inflammation. These disorders have distinct pathologic and clinical characteristics, but their pathogenesis remains poorly understood.

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is a condition that impairs your body’s ability to break down certain foods. People who have the disease get sick if they eat bread, pasta, pizza, and cereal. These foods and others contain a protein called “gluten.” Gluten damages the intestines of people with celiac disease. As a result, their bodies can’t absorb nutrients from food. The disease affects children and adults.


Constipation is a common problem that makes it hard to have bowel movements. Your bowel movements might be:

Too hard

Too small

Hard to get out

Happening fewer than 3 times a week

 Constipation, hard stools, and straining could lead to hemorrhoids or an anal fissure.

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