Common Digestive Disorders

The digestive system processes food into energy and nutrients that the body needs to function. The waste products are eliminated through bowel movements. When the digestive system does not work properly it results in a digestive disorder. Some of the common digestive disorders may be due to disease, inflammation or lack of a crucial enzyme.


Diverticulitis is the inflammation or infection of the diverticula in the colon. Diverticula are the pouches on the walls of the colon. Diverticulitis is common in countries where people don’t get a lot of fiber in their diets, such as United States, Australia and England. Symptoms of diverticulitis caused by inflammation include abdominal pain and tenderness on the lower left side of the abdomen. Diverticulitis symptoms caused by infection include cramping, nausea, fever, constipation, vomiting and chills. Seek medical help if any of these symptoms are present to get a proper diagnosis.

Celiac Disease

Protrusions lining the small intestine, called villi, help the nutrients from food be absorbed into the bloodstream. People with celiac disease have a sensitivity to gluten in food, which causes their immune system to attack and damage the small intestine. Gluten is found in most foods containing barley, wheat, oats and rye. This digestive disorder causes the villi to die, which results in malnutrition because the body cannot absorb any nutrients no matter how much is eaten. Symptoms vary from person to person and can begin in childhood or adulthood. Some of the symptoms include diarrhea, delayed growth in children, anemia that has no other cause, pain in the abdomen and weight loss.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

A common digestive disorder is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Doctors have been unable to find a physical cause for IBS, but it is documented that with people with IBS have a more sensitive and reactive colon than other people. Taking medications, eating certain foods or gas can cause a flare-up of IBS.

Lactose Intolerance

Lactase is an enzyme found in the small intestine. This enzyme breaks down the lactose found in food so it can be absorbed into the blood. People without the lactase enzyme are unable to digest lactose. Symptoms of lactose intolerance typically occur half an hour to two hours after ingesting any food or drink that contains lactose. The more lactose a person ingests, the more severe the symptoms will be. People with lactose intolerance experience gas, nausea, diarrhea, bloating and cramps.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

Chronic heartburn is called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Acidic stomach juices flow backward from the stomach into the throat. The most common symptom of GERD is heartburn. Taking an antacid usually relieves heartburn within five minutes. Pain that is not relieved may be a sign of heart attack or other serious medical condition.