Gastrointestinal system and some of its disorders
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The human body functions with various systems that enhance survival. One of such is the gastrointestinal system which may malfunction at any time. They are various disorders associated with the human digestive system. Disorder disrupts the digestion and absorption of food (liquid and solid). It also prevents the elimination of waste products from the body.
The gastrointestinal tract is also known as the alimentary tract. It is made up of organs like the mouth, stomach, oesophagus, intestines, pharynx among others. The main function of the gastrointestinal tract is to supply the body cells with the required nutrients in it acceptable form. Therefore, the gastrointestinal has to ingest, absorb and digest food (solid and liquid) into the blood and also see to the removal of waste products.
Any deviation from normal is called a disorder.
The following are disorders associated with the gastrointestinal system.
1. Anorexia: Normally, every human being should have the urge to eat. The sudden loss of appetite for food is known as anorexia. Anorexia is a disorder that disrupts the activity of the body. A person who loses appetite will find it difficult to eat. This will weaken the body and prevent the normal function of the body.
2. Dysphagia: Food is usually swallowed and transported to the stomach using the oesophagus. But there are cases where one finds it difficult to swallow food. The inability to swallow food is known as dysphagia. The person only finds it easy to swallow the liquid and soft food. Difficulties and pains are experienced when swallowing solid food. Dysphagia is caused by the malfunction of muscles that aid swallowing. Inflammation in the mouth, pharynx and larynx can obstruct swallowing. Also, conditions that affect the nervous system can cause dysphagia.
3. Nausea and Vomiting: Nausea is the urge to vomit. Nausea is triggered by discomfort in the stomach. Vomiting is a sudden discharge of digested or undigested food from the stomach through the mouth. Vomiting is an involuntary action. The action that follows vomiting can be known as retching. There is a part of the brain known as medulla oblongata that indicates vomiting.
Nausea and vomiting can be identified as a symptom of hormonal change, pregnancy, illness, etc. Some people vomit easily, others with little effort. Surprisingly, others rarely vomit despite the stimulus and intensity to vomit. Constant vomiting leads to malnutrition, loss of weight, general body weakness and dehydration.
Note: Vomiting may occur without nausea. Nausea may also occur without vomiting.
4. Heartburn: According to Teresa Finley, heartburn is defined as a form of pain that is described as a burning sensation felt behind the sternum. It is usually attributed to irritation of the oesophageal mucosa by reflux of gastric acid fluid into the oesophagus and may be accompanied by regurgitation of some stomach content into the mouth.
5. Regurgitation: It is the expulsion of undigested food from the stomach effortlessly without vomiting. It is also when liquid or acid in the stomach or gastric juice flows back to the mouth. It occurs as the sphincter (lower oesophagus) fails to prevent the movement of food, liquid and gastric gas from the stomach. Some researchers consider it as a symptom of a disease.
6. Faecal Incontinence: Faecal incontinence is a situation where faeces escapes from the anus without control. It can also be called involuntary defecation. Faecal incontinence is caused by damage of the sphincter at the anus i.e external anal sphincter and internal anal sphincter. It can also be caused by bowel disease.
7. Change in the normal pattern of bowel elimination: Change in the normal pattern of bowel elimination can be grouped into constipation and diarrhoea.
Constipation – This is when bowel movement reduces and becomes difficult to eliminate.
Diarrhoea – It is referred to as the eliminating of the bowel, especially in a liquid or loose form for more than three times at a stretch. It is caused by a bacteria, parasite or virus infection.
8. Blood in the gastric intestinal tract: Normally, there should be no blood in the gastrointestinal canal, but sometimes there is blood in the gastrointestinal tract. It is indicated by vomiting of blood, passing of blood as faeces or presence of blood pigment in the faeces. Bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract may be caused by an inflammation in the upper part of the digestive tract or a wound in the colon, rectum or anus.