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Last Updated: Oct 29, 2020
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Digestive Disorders: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects

About Types Common disorders Symptoms Causes Diagnosis Treatment Diet Side effects Post-treatment guidelines Recovery Cost Results Prevention Alternatives Home remedies
Digestive Disorders: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects

What are digestive disorders?

The digestive process is complex and takes place in the digestive tract and involves a number of organs. It begins with the esophagus that helps to carry food to the stomach. A number of different organs like the pancreas and the gall bladder produce digestive juices that help to break down the food for digestion.

Digestion is the breakdown and transformation of food into micronutrients that pass through the intestinal walls to the bloodstream from where it circulated throughout the body. Distress in the digestive system causes great discomfort to the body and mind.

Digestive disorders are any distress or discomfort in the digestive system. Once occurred in one part of the digestive system, they may malfunction in the other parts of the digestive system. The conditions range from minor to serious. For example perianal abscesses, colitis, anal fissures, constipation, colon polyps, hemorrhoids, and cancer.

Types of Digestive Disorders:

  • Functional Digestive Disorders:

    These are also called Dyspepsia, functional digestive disorders are usually the result of the malfunctioning of the digestive system. This may cause loss of appetite, nausea, bloating, rashes, heartburn.

    The cause of dyspepsia could be a large meal that is not easy to digest, eating without chewing, alcohol abuse, stress, lack of exercise, resisting bowel movement.

    Functional Digestive disorders are of two types:

    • Irritable Bowel Syndrome: It is intestinal pain that doesn’t go away with bowel movement. It involves constipation, diarrhea, and bloating. It is caused by the rate at which food processes in the colon and the type of food.
    • Functional Dyspepsia: it is recurring indigestion that has no underlying cause. It is also called non-ulcer stomach pain or non-ulcer dyspepsia. The symptoms are similar to ulcers i.e pain in the upper abdomen, bloating, belching, and nausea.
  • Structural gastrointestinal disorders:

    This is the structural dysfunction of the bowel. In extreme cases, the bowel has to be removed surgically. It usually causes colon cancer, diverticular disease, inflammatory bowel disease.

what are the common disorders of the digestive system?

Some of the common digestive system disorders include:

  • Chronic Diarrhea: It is usually induced by the body’s incapability to digest food. Chronic diarrhea usually lasts 2-4 weeks, the cause of which could be infection and non-infection. Infectious diarrhea is usually caused by parasites, bacteria, viruses. Non-infectious diarrhea is caused by pancreatic or intestinal disorders, medications, certain foods, immunological disorders, and hereditary factors.
  • Chronic Constipation: It is the difficulty of passing stool and infrequency in bowel movement. Occasional constipation is normal, however, some experience chronic constipation which can interfere with daily activities. It is generally caused by the slowed movement of stool through the digestive system and the inability to pass through the rectum. Other causes include anal fissure, bowel obstruction, colon cancer, rectal cancer.
  • Gastroenteritis: The infection of bacteria and viruses, also called infectious diarrhea. Symptoms include diarrhea and vomiting, fever, stomach pain, headache. It is caused by contaminated water or unsanitary hands.
  • Ulcers: It is also known as peptic ulcers and are usually caused by stress, bacteria, long-term use of non-steroidal medications, and diet. Symptoms are typically heartburn, painful and burning sensation in the stomach, intolerance to food rich in fat, and nausea, and vomiting.

What are the symptoms of digestive disorders?

Symptoms of digestive disorders are:

  • Heartburn
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Swallowing problems
  • Bleeding
  • Vomiting
  • Abdomen pain
  • Bloating

What causes digestive disorders?

The digestive disorders are usually caused by:

  • Unhygienic food
  • Stress
  • Certain medications and their overuse
  • Infections caused by bacteria, viruses, fungus, parasites
  • Low fibrous diet
  • Resisting bowel movement
  • Physical inactivity
  • Consuming large amounts of dairy products
  • Frequent changes in body schedule

How to diagnose digestive disorders?

Based on the symptoms, physical examinations, and medical history, digestive disorders are diagnosed. Some tests are also done for a better understanding of the underlying causes of digestive discomfort. Some tests are:

  • Laboratory tests:
    • Fecal blood test
    • Stool culture
  • Imaging tests:
    • Ultrasound
    • CT Scan
    • MRI
    • Radioisotope gastric-emptying scan
    • Colorectal transit study
    • Defactography
  • Endoscopic procedures:
    • Esophageal manometry
    • 24-hour catheter-based pH monitoring
    • 48-hour wireless pH monitoring

How to treat digestive disorders?

Common digestive problems such as constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, bloating can be treated with some lifestyle changes. Some of the treatments that will help with digestive disorders are:

  • Heartburn:

    Heartburn is caused due to indigestion and can make you feel really uncomfortable. You can avoid fatty and oily foods and aerated drinks if you are suffering from this condition. You can take lactase supplements, alpha-galactosidase, simethicone and probiotics.

  • Peptic ulcers:

    Peptic ulcers cause stomach pain and can cause internal bleeding and may also cause a hole to be formed in the stomach wall.

    Normally, 10-14 days of antibiotic treatment together with acid reduction therapy works to alleviate this condition.

    Gallstones are made of cholesterol and bile salts and may require treatment in some cases. Removal of gallbladder can be done through laparoscopy and also via mouth or vagina without any external incision.

  • Other disorders include constipation, diarrhea, hemorrhoids and others.

However for acute digestive disorders, the key treatments are gastric electrical stimulation and islet auto-transplantation for chronic pancreatitis.

  • Gastric electric stimulation or GES:

    GES is performed in patients who suffer from gastroparesis due to diabetes or any other cause. This method uses a device implanted in the abdomen to send mini electrical impulses to the smooth muscles and nerves of the lower stomach.

    Gastroparesis is the condition where the nerves and muscles of the stomach are affected and this delays the emptying of food from the stomach to the small intestine. It can happen in people with diabetes or nervous disorder and sometimes, the cause is not detected.

  • Islet auto-transplantation:

    Chronic pancreatitis requires auto-islet transplantation after a total pancreatectomy which is the removal of the entire pancreas. Chronic pancreatitis is a serious condition which causes inflammation of the pancreas that worsens over time and leads to permanent damage.

    It gradually impairs a patient’s ability to digest food and make pancreatic hormones. During islet autotransplant, the patient’s own cells are kept separate from the pancreas. They are put back when the patient starts receiving insulin.

What kind of diet is best for digestive disorders?

Food that is gentle to the digestive system are:

  • Ginger: it is excellent to reduce bloating and other digestive problems.
  • Unsaturated fats: These help the body easily absorb vitamins, and conjugates with fibers for an easier bowel movement. Olive oil is recognized as unsaturated fats in plant oils.
  • Vegetables: Vegetables are rich in fibers, which is important for digestion. Vegetable skin is richer in fibers, it is best to consume it whole like potatoes, carrots, legumes, and beans.
  • Fruits: These are also a rich source of fibers, along with that they are rich in vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin C and potassium.
  • Whole grains: Whole grain foods have high fiber content. The body breaks it down slowly which helps in controlling blood sugar levels. Whole grain food includes brown rice and quinoa.

While the above lists will help to keep the digestive system healthy, there is also some food that should be avoided for the sake of intestinal health. For example high saturated fats like cheese, white and milk chocolate, carbonated beverages, alcohol, refined carbohydrates.

Are there any side effects?

Heartburn patients are generally prescribed H2 blockers which reduces the amount of acid that a stomach intakes. However, there are a number of side-effects of consuming H2 blockers: they can cause constipation, diarrhea, headache or nausea and vomiting. Islet autotransplantation involves the complete removal of the pancreas.

This exposes the patient to the risk of developing permanent diabetes. A patient will then have to take insulin shots or to use an insulin pump for the rest of their lives. Gastric electrical stimulation may cause pain at the implant site, infection, stomach wall perforation, lead obstruction of intestines, lead/device problems and lead penetration, irritation, inflammation, uncomfortable stimulation, tissue damage and others.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

Gastric electric stimulation helps to reduce symptoms of chronic intractable vomiting and nausea related to gastroparesis. But it is not a complete cure in itself for gastroparesis.

It helps to reduce symptoms but patients generally need to take medication and follow a special diet to control the symptoms even after undergoing this surgery.

Islet autotransplantation may induce permanent diabetes in some people. Those people will have to take insulin shots or will have to use an insulin pump for the rest of their lives.

How long does it take to recover?

Most patients are discharged within 1-5 days of gastric electrical stimulation procedure. However, as this surgery is not an end in itself, a person will have to go to the doctor for regular check-ups.

Other digestive disorders like gas, heartburn, constipation and diarrhea may be treated within a time span of a few hours to a few days with the help of proper medication and a proper diet.

The islet autotransplantation procedure is complex and a person may require quite some time to recover.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

Common digestive disorders like heartburns, gas, constipation or diarrhea can be effectively treated with the help of some medicines which do not cost much. Medicines for indigestion and heart burn are available within a price range of Rs 50-100.

However, islet transplantation for treating acute pancreatitis is expensive and may cost about 10,00,000 – 12,00,000 rupees. Gastric electric stimulation may cost around 6 lakh rupees in India.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

Common gastric disorders like gas, constipation, diarrhea and heartburms are more often than not the result of lifestyle irregularities. Thus there is seldom a permanent solution to such problems.

Gastric electric stimulation is not an end in itself and patients will require medication and routine check-ups to keep the symptoms of gastroparesis at bay.

Islet transplantation procedure may cause to reduce chronic pancreatitis but it tends to have a lot of side-effects.

How to prevent digestive disorders?

There are simple lifestyle choices that can have a huge positive impact on your body such as:

  • Eat frequent small meals: This rule will not only help with the weight loss but it will also keep the digestive system in check. Eating a big meal once or just eating big meals in general overloads the digestive system which can cause heartburn, acidity, gas, nausea, vomiting.
  • Consuming more fibers: Eating enough fiber helps prevent digestion problems. It’s naturally available in fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, and whole grains.
  • Water: Water purges the body of wastes. And aids in the smooth flow of stool that also assists in the prevention of constipation.
  • Avoiding dairy, greasy and spicy food that can exacerbate the digestive system

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

There is no such alternative to islet autotransplantation as these method is adopted only when all other options fail. Chronic gastric stimulation is used to treat gastroparesis. Alternative methods to treat gastroparesis may include changes in the diet of the patient and medications.

Such medications like metoclopramide and erythromycin can be used to stimulate the stomach muscles. Other drugs that help to contain nausea and vomiting may include prochlor perazine and diphenhydramine.

What are the home remedies to treat digestive disorders?

The ingredients that help prevent and treat home remedies present at home are:

  • Turmeric: It helps in treating normal digestive problems. It is because of Curcumin, a component of turmeric that gives it yellow color and aids in digestion and liver function. Turmeric also has anti-inflammatory properties that help in the prevention of ulcers.
  • Probiotics: There is a natural inoculum existing in the body that is essential for digestion. Probiotics are also naturally present in yogurt and are important for the treatment of diarrhea.
  • Mint: It helps prevent vomiting, nausea, muscle spasms, intestinal pain caused by digestive distress.
  • Heating pad and warm bath: Heat relaxes the muscles, ease pain, and helps in indigestion.
  • Taking the BRAT diet: A diet that is rich in starch that helps make the stool firm by binding the food together. It basically includes banana, rice, applesauce, and toast
  • Avoid alcohol consumption: It is obviously smart to avoid alcohol consumption and smoking so as to not further the digestive problem.
  • Lemon water: Having lemon water with a pinch of baking soda has been found to relieve digestive strains. It is because the carbonic acid present in the liquid is known to reduce gas and indigestion.

Popular Questions & Answers

Three days back my father had a severe pain in left rib and next day pain transfer to full back and today morning in both the legs also pain started. He had taken zerodol p medicine and also tolfree150 mg but after taking the medicine some side effects arise so we stop the medicine tolfree150 mg. What to do please suggest.

Erasmus Mundus Master in Adapted Physical Activity, MPT, BPTh/BPT
Physiotherapist, Chennai
Probably it looks like gastric problem, try drinking garlic juice mixed with milk in the night which will definitely help you to progress with the sleep pattern and you will definitely feel good through out the night. Any sharp pain might be due t...

Sir, my wife's age is 57 years she is taking sompraz 40 for gastric trouble for the past one week. Actually how long can it be taken and for how many weeks?

DNB Gastroentrology
Gastroenterologist, Delhi
Ideally all acid lower drugs not recommended for a long period. The duration of these drugs depends upon cause of symptoms. Please send me your reports to decide. But definite long term use has tendency to cause b12 defeciency.

My mother is a ibs d patient, age 58. She goes for stool every day for 10-12 times. She is under medication and have a sedentary life style. She regularly takes loperamide, inset, librax and rifaxcin for 2 months. Alternatively she is taking this treatment for 2 years. She used to have leg swelling since then which occurs but automatically gets cured. 1 year before her kidney and liver profile test were ok. But during this 1 month her swelling of leg have increased. So her liver function and kidney profile test have been done. Her albumin level is 3.2,24 hour urine protein test- 324 mg/day, urine protein -18 mg/dl, esr-20, crp-.04, urea-9.87, creatine-0.57. Her weight is 26 kg since childhood she suffers from digestive problems and her weight was 32 kg. She cannot digest protein, diary products hence her diet is low in protein .her stool frequency is not getting low even after taking so many medications also. She regularly goes to toilet for 10-12 and it is more after eating anything. Recently it has increased as during night time before going to bed she is also going for stool. Previously before 6 months she only use to go for stool in the morning till 11 am. After that it gets stopped. Her colonoscopy and endoscopy reports done 1 year before were ok. Due to her increased frequency of stool during this 1 month she took kutsjghsn vati from dabur and stooped the allopathy. She got relaxed from it. But suddenly drop in albumin and excretion of protein from urine is whether the side effects of kutajghanvati?/ loperamide 2 tablets she takes in a week interval of 4 days. Is the reports of the recent blood test and urine test anything serious. Kindly suggest for any medicine or remedy during this covid period as we are not able to go to hospital.

DM - Gastroenterology, MD - Medicine, MRCP (UK), DNB ( Med)
Gastroenterologist, Trivandrum
1. Is she passing loose stools or formed stools? 2. Any associated diseases like diabetes, heart diseases will have to do more tests and have to optimise medicines.
1 person found this helpful

Hello Dr. i’m suffering from irritable bowel syndromes inflammation in the intestines associated with loose stools kindly advise me a best medicine which can cure my problem permanently someone refers me a mesacol but I really want to know.

MBBS, Basic Life Support (B.L.S), Advanced Cardiac Life Support, Fellow of Academy of General Education (FAGE)
General Physician, Delhi
I am sorry to hear about your concern but will be happy to assist you. Irritable bowel syndrome (ibs) is a common disorder that affects the large intestine. Signs and symptoms include cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhea or consti...

My mother weight is 26 kg and height 5. She is suffering from ibs d as described by doctors as she usually goes to toilet for 5-7 times every day. From childhood she was 32 kg. But due to this loose motion she is unable to gain weight. She even can't digest protein, fat and dairy products. So she don't like to take protein and dairy products and her diet is mainly carbs and low fat meals. She takes a lot of medicines like lopamide, librax, pantop 20, rifaximin in regular basis. Even in ayurvedic she takes kutsjghan vati. But nothing relieve her from this symptoms. She is suffering from disease since 5 years and in this time period sometimes are feet swell. But now a days it is swelling a lot. All her endoscopy, colonoscopy, stool reports are ok. So I did my liver and kidney profile test. In the report I found my albumin level is 3.2l. Urea -9.8l, bun- 4.6l, bun creatine ratio -8l. Due to covid we could not consult any doctor. Kindly suggest if there is any emergency and why her leg swelling has increased. What can she take to stop her diarrhea and leg swelling. Due to this ibs she has just stopped going out, she becomes nervous and tremble while going out, while talking with new people's, going to doctors for checkup.

DNB Gastroentrology
Gastroenterologist, Delhi
Hi primarily it looks to be case of malabsorption. Has she undergone endoscopy biopsy of small intestine and other tests for malabsorption? As her kft is ok the swelling in legs look to be due to low albumin levels secondary to malabsorption. Pl s...
2 people found this helpful

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