Gastrointestinal disorders are the disease of the digestive system. Conditions like diarrhoea, constipation, haemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome, diverticular diseases and anal fissures, all fall under the umbrella of gastrointestinal (GI) disorders.
What Is The Gastrointestinal Tract?
The gastrointestinal tract (GIT) is the pathway through which food enters the body and solid waste material is expelled. The gastrointestinal tract consists of mouth, pharynx, oesophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine and anus. The food enters through the mouth and is digested and assimilated by the stomach and small intestines and the remaining food waste is expelled through the anus.
The term gastrointestinal disorder usually refers to problems with the stomach, the intestines or the anus.
Types of Gastrointestinal Disorders
There are mainly three types of gastrointestinal diseases:
Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders
Functional gastrointestinal diseases are those in which the GI tract is anatomically normal but doesn't function properly. Usually, the motility of the bowels is affected in functional GI diseases. They are very common as compared to other types of gastrointestinal disorders. Major functional GI disorders are:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Structural Gastrointestinal Disorders
Structural gastrointestinal disorders are not as common as functional disorders. In this type of GI disorder, the anatomy of the affected bowel becomes abnormal and stops working properly. The structural abnormality may be congenital or may form later in life. Sometimes surgery is required to treat the anatomical abnormality. Common examples of structural GI disorders are:
- Diverticular disease
- Colon polyps
- Colon cancer
- Inflammatory bowel disease
These disorders include problems of the rectum and anus. Anorectal problems are discussed separately because a wide variety of diseases fall in this category, and the majority of them are extremely common. Some of the anorectal disorders are:
- Haemorrhoids: Swollen blood vessels lining the anus usually caused by constipation or persistent diarrhoea.
- Anal Fissures: Splits or cracks in the lining of the anal opening, caused by constipation or diarrhoea.
- Perianal Abscesses: Pus filled abscess is formed after a bacterial infection develops in blocked glands of the anus. Treatment requires draining of the abscess, which is performed under local anaesthesia.
- Anal Fistula: Formation of an abnormal channel after the drainage of an abscess. The waste material is diverted to a hole in the skin through this formed channel which causes itching and irritation. To treat a fistula surgery is required to remove any formed abscess and to close off the channel.
- Diverticulitis: Formation of inflamed pouches in the lining of the intestine. It can be treated by antibiotics, taking excess fluids and a special diet.
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