When the digestive system works properly, it breaks down foods into forms that the body uses to build and nourish its cells, and to provide the fuel and energy we need to live. Of course, it does not always work to our liking. We have all had an upset stomach at one time or another. It’s a rotten feeling – cramps, nausea, etc. Hopefully, the symptoms go away quickly and our appetite returns.
In addition to a tummy ache, there are a variety of digestive disorders that people can encounter. These ailments can develop in people of all ages, however, they are more common with seniors. As we age, there may have less secretions from the digestive organs. Also, swallowing and the contractions that move food through the digestion process decrease. In fact, John Hopkins Medicine reports that nearly 40% of older adults have one or more digestive disorder symptoms each year.
Here is a list of more common digestive disorders, many of which you have probably heard of.
- Heartburn (acid reflux)
- Stomachache (dyspepsia)
- Diarrhea and constipation
- Peptic ulcer
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Excess gas
- Gastrointestinal bleeding
- Swallowing difficulties
- Colon polyps and colon cancer
- Pancreas, liver, and gallbladder problems
The digestive system is a continuous tube that processes food and liquids in the body. Extending from the mouth to the anus, it is also known as the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. It consists of various parts, including organs that play supporting roles.
Here are the major parts of the digestive system.
- Mouth (teeth, tongue, salivary glands)
- Throat (pharynx, esophagus)
- Gall bladder
- Small intestine (duodenum, jejunum, ileum)
- Large intestine or colon (ascending, transverse, descending, sigmoid)
- Rectum and anus
(Sources: HealthInAging.org, JohnHopkinsHealthAlerts.com, MayoClinic.com)