Published May 20, 2023 by

Common Digestive Diseases

General Discussion:

Gastrointestinal diseases are those that attack the stomach and intestines.  They are generally caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses and some foods such as milk and certain types of fats.  In other cases, these diseases are related to different types of cancer and to the colon, and are known as colon syndrome with diarrhea and without diarrhea.

A very common disease is viral gastroenteritis, which develops from a virus and causes diarrhea and vomiting, and at a more advanced infectious level requires the use of antibiotics.

Similarly, acid peptic and gastrointestinal diseases are those that affect our digestive system and arise due to an increase in the production of acid and pepsin.

Common diseases of Digestive system:

The digestive system is the set of organs that is responsible for the transformation of food so that it is absorbable and used by the cells of the organism.  This set of organs is made up of the mouth, salivary glands, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, small intestine, large intestine, and anus.  The most common pathologies or diseases of the digestive system are:


It is an inflammation that damages the tissues of the esophagus.  Some of its symptoms are difficulty swallowing accompanied by pain.  One of the most common causes is due to gastroesophageal reflux, that is, a return of acid into the esophagus.

The factors that increase the risk and what we should not do to develop this pathology is to avoid eating before going to bed, excess alcohol, caffeine, chocolate and cigarettes.  Similarly, weight gain is an important risk factor, so it is recommended to exercise, lose weight and raise the bed a little at the head to avoid reflux.


It is the inflammation of the stomach lining.  Among the causes that cause this pathology is the frequent use of analgesics such as ibuprofen, naproxen, aspirin -used for a long time to prevent heart attacks, but some studies concluded that they cause digestive bleeding-, excessive consumption of alcohol, caffeine, spicy foods, processed meats and sausages.  Additionally, stress is added and special care is recommended for the elderly, since in advanced age the stomach lining becomes thinner and is more prone to this type of pathology.

To avoid it, it is important to chew food well, establish regular meal times, not use many condiments as they stimulate the production of digestive juices, have a good spiritual disposition when eating food, and avoid heavy physical exertion after meals.


Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is due to pathological reflux that causes symptoms and complications, such as erosive esophagitis.  The usual symptoms are heartburn, early satiety, bloating, and belching.  Diagnosis is made clinically and requires endoscopy in adults older than 55 years who do not respond to empiric acid block therapy or in those who present with warning symptoms.  Uncomplicated GERD can be treated with lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications.  Complications are erosive esophagitis, stricture, and Barrett's esophagus, which can increase the risk of esophageal cancer.  Treatment includes lifestyle and diet changes, medications to reduce acidity, and, in some cases, surgery.

Irritable bowel syndrome 

Irritable bowel syndrome is a problem that affects the large intestine.  It can cause abdominal cramping, bloating, and changes in bowel habits.  Some people with this disorder have constipation, others have diarrhea.  Some go from a picture of constipation to one of diarrhea.  Although irritable bowel syndrome can cause a lot of discomfort, it does not harm the intestine.

Irritable bowel syndrome is a common phenomena. Women suffer from it twice as often as men, and it is more common in people under 45 years of age.  The exact cause of this syndrome is not known, nor is there a specific test to diagnose it.  Your doctor can perform tests to make sure you don't have other illnesses.  These tests may include stool tests, blood tests, and X-rays.  Your doctor may also perform a test called a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy.  Most people diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome can control their symptoms with diet, stress management, probiotics, and medication.

Lactose intolerance 

It is the inability to digest lactose, a type of sugar found in milk and other dairy products.

Lactose intolerance occurs when the small intestine does not produce enough lactase enzyme.  Enzymes help the body absorb food.  Not having enough lactase is called lactase deficiency.  Babies' bodies make this enzyme so they can digest milk, including breast milk.  Premature babies are sometimes lactose intolerant.

Causes of Lactose intolerance 

Lactose intolerance can be congenital (due to a very rare metabolic error in which lactase is missing from birth) or acquired.  The latter can be partial or total and can start in childhood, adolescence or adulthood.  It may be due to a progressive decrease in lactase in the cells of the intestinal mucosa from two or three years of age, with no known cause, or as a consequence of an attack on the intestinal mucosa by viruses or bacteria, use of antibiotics or chemotherapy, chronic inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, among others.


Symptoms often occur 30 minutes to two hours after eating or drinking dairy products and are often relieved by not eating or drinking dairy products.  Large doses of dairy products can cause worse symptoms which may include:

 - Abdominal distension

 - abdominal cramps

 - Diarrhea

 - Gas (flatulence)

 - Nausea

 - Babies or children may have slow growth or weight loss.


Other intestinal problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome, can cause the same symptoms as lactose intolerance, so it is important to perform some tests to confirm or rule out the diagnosis.  Among them, a breath test for lactose-hydrogen, a lactose tolerance test, and a measurement of stool pH.  Your doctor will explain what tests you will need to assess your or your child's condition.


Treatment consists of reducing or eliminating dairy products from the diet.  Your doctor will tell you what kind of foods that contain them you can include and in what quantity.  Also if it will be necessary to receive calcium, vitamin D or other nutritional supplements.

Hiatal hernia

Hiatal hernia is a very common disease, which occurs most often in people over 50 years of age.  Although the causes are not known, a series of risk factors that favor its appearance have been identified: age, obesity and smoking.  Children with this disease are usually born with it.


The causes that cause these hernias are not known, although it is believed that they could be due to the weakening of the tissues or alterations in the development of the diaphragm.  A series of risk factors for its development have been described, such as:

 *Age (over 50 years).




 *Increased intra-abdominal pressure (cough, constipation).

Hiatal hernia symptoms

The symptoms of a hiatal hernia usually occur within an hour of eating:

 *chest pain

 *Heartburn, which is made worse by bending over or lying down.

 *Burning sensation when gastric acid passes into the esophagus.

Hiatal hernia treatment

When the characteristic symptoms of hiatus hernia occur, the most common thing to do is resort to antacids to neutralize gastric acidity.

However, there are a number of measures that can prevent the appearance of symptoms:

 *Avoid abundant and heavy meals.

 *Avoid fats.

 *Avoid drinking alcohol.

 *Lose weight.

 *Give up smoking.

* Walking after eating.

 *Do not bend over or lie down immediately after eating.

 *Do not wear clothing that compresses the waist.

In the event that, despite preventive measures and the use of antacids, the symptoms of hiatus hernia do not disappear, you should see a doctor, since if this situation persists, surgical intervention may be necessary.


It is an injury that occurs in the lining (mucosa) of the stomach.  They can also appear in the duodenum or esophagus.

It is a fairly common problem, being one of the most common causes or consumption of anti-inflammatory drugs.  The risk of gastric intestinal complications associated with its consumption is four to five times higher than that of the population that does not consume it.


*Abdominal pain( pains tend to be worse when the stomach is empty and can occur during the night)

*Difficulty in digestion


* Vomiting

* Loss of appetite and weight. 

In the more severe cases, in which the ulcer progresses and penetrates the wall of the stomach, the pain is much more intense, accompanied by abdominal rigidity and loss of blood, not vomiting or small feces.


The walls of the stomach are usually protected from the effects of the acid normally present in this organ and which is essential for the digestive process.  If this protection is shaved, an ulcer may form.

One of the most common causes is infection by Helicobacter pylori, which breaks down the protective barrier of the stomach.  

Prolonged consumption of anti-inflammatory drugs also affects the defenses of the stomach wall and is a very frequent origin of ulcers. Also anti-platelet agents can cause this picture.  Or alcohol abuse and radiotherapy can also be associated with gastric ulcer.

There are risk factors for its development, such as the presence of family history, advanced age, chronic pain due to prolonged use of anti-inflammatory drugs, diabetes, tobacco, coffee and chronic stress.


Ulcer can be detected by the following ways-

*Medical and family history. To help diagnose peptic ulcers and check for factors that cause ulcers, doctor will take a medical and family history.

*Physical exam

*Blood test

*Urea breath test (specific tests to detect Helicobacter pylori infection.)

*Stool test

*Upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy and biopsy

*Upper GI series.


The treatment implies the elimination of its cause, or control of the lesion and its potential complications, and the prevention of new episodes.

There are medications indicated for the relief of complaints associated with ulcers and drugs capable of eliminating Helicobacter pylori infection.  Surgery may be necessary in more complicated cases.

The most commonly used medications are antacids, which relieve pain associated with this disease more than proton-pump inhibitors and H2-receptor inhibitors, which reduce acid production, some antibiotics are also effective in eliminating Helicobacter pylori.  

Diet is important in the recovery and prevention of gastric ulcers. 

Physical exercise is also a good component in the treatment and prevention of gastric ulcers and many other diseases.  Finally, it is important to learn to manage or stress.