Gastrointestinal Problems

Information on how to support a healthy intestinal tract and common gastrointestinal problems.

Select a Topic

  1. What are Gastrointestinal Problems?
  2. Diagnosing Gastrointestinal Problems
  3. What Causes Gastrointestinal Problems?
  4. Help for Gastrointestinal Problems

What are Gastrointestinal Problems?

Millions of Americans experience gastrointestinal problems each year which range from indigestion, heartburn, gas, diarrhea, an ulcer, IBS and in more severe cases, sometimes even colon cancer. These problems which affect the gastrointestinal tract cause much discomfort and can be quite frustrating.

They affect men and women of all ages, but tend to be more common in women. Minor problems are easily treatable and simple adjustments in lifestyle are often recommended. In cases where GI problems recur and become more severe, consult your health practitioner for treatment.

Diagnosing Gastrointestinal Problems

There are several different types of gastrointestinal problems and these include:

  • Indigestion
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Heartburn
  • Ulcers
  • Acid reflux
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Gastritis
  • Appendicitis
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Diverticulitis
  • Pancreatitis
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Pruritis ani
  • Fecal incontinence
  • Stomach or colon cancer

What Causes Gastrointestinal Problems?

Certain measures can be taken to prevent and cope with the discomfort of gastrointestinal problems and these include:

  • Increase your intake of fiber such as fruit, vegetables, bran, and whole grains
  • Avoid foods that contribute to acid indigestion such as greasy, spicy or tomato based foods
  • Drink lots of water – at least eight glasses per day to flush the toxins and detox your body
  • Exercise regularly to stimulate bowel movements and promote overall health and wellbeing
  • Improve bowel habits by having regular bowel movements, not straining and avoiding constipation
  • Monitor which foods may be aggravating your stomach by keeping a food diary
  • Avoid drinking alcohol and caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea and cola
  • Stop smoking as it stimulates acid production in the stomach
  • Minimize stress by practicing relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation or tai chi

Help for Gastrointestinal Problems

Treatment generally depends on the diagnosis, your overall health and the severity of the disease. A vast majority of gastrointestinal problems can be prevented by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and practicing good bowel habits.

Eat more fresh fruit, vegetables; increase your intake of fiber and avoiding greasy or spicy food as well as alcoholic and caffeinated beverages. Regular exercise is also important as it helps to stimulate bowel activity. Smoking has a negative effect on the entire body including the gastrointestinal tract and people who smoke have a higher risk of developing stomach problems.

Medications that can be taken to relieve GI problems include antacids and H2 blockers. Avoid using laxatives and non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs as they may irritate the stomach. More serious disorders affecting the gastrointestinal tract may require a continuous course of antibiotics and sometimes surgery – both of which come with their own set of possible side effects.