Digestive System Disorders Learning Center

  • Enlarge
  • Print
  • Recommend

Digestive System Disorders

Overview

The digestive system and its accessory organs are diverse, including components such as the mucous membranes lining your cheeks, the smooth muscle of your gut, and the spongy glandular tissue of your pancreas. Acting as a unit, these tissues carry out their mission with astonishing efficiency most of the time. However, a variety of problems can arise within this assortment of glands, muscles, nerves, connective tissue, and other structures. Some problems, such as autoimmune conditions, arise spontaneously from unknown causes and can be managed but not cured. Other diseases, such as hepatitis and cancers of the mouth, esophagus, and pancreas, develop gradually and are often linked to unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as unsafe sexual practices, alcohol misuse, smoking, and use of smokeless tobacco.

Digestive System Disorders

It's helpful to classify diseases and conditions of the digestive system according to their type or cause, as shown below. Such pigeonholing is never precise, of course, and the categories in this list sometimes overlap. Appendicitis, for instance, might be classified as either an acute infectious condition or an inflammatory disorder. Similarly, chronic infections — those that recur often or progress slowly — might at first cause sudden, severe illness. Finally, some entries may be either diseases in their own right or symptoms of other disorder. Cirrhosis of the liver, for example, is a secondary condition resulting from other diseases and conditions such as hepatitis B, cystic fibrosis, and primary biliary cirrhosis, among others.

Common Cancers

  • Mouth/oral cavity
  • Esophagus
  • Stomach
  • Liver  (hepatocellular carcinoma)
  • Bile ducts
  • Pancreas (islet cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma)
  • Colon and rectum (colorectal cancer)
  • Anus and rectum (anorectal cancer)

Infections (Acute and Chronic)

  • Appendicitis
  • Foodborne illness (food poisoning)
  • Peritonitis
  • Viral gastroenteritis
  • Cholangitis
  • Hepatitis A 
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C
  • Peptic Ulcer
  • Peptic ulcer (Helicobacter pylori)

Inflammatory and Autoimmune Conditions

  • Gastritis
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
    • Crohn's disease
    • Ulcerative colitis (UC)
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Ischemic colitis
  • Pancreatitis
  • Primary biliary cirrhosis
  • Primary sclerosing cholangitis
  • Proctitis
  • Pruritus ani (anal itching)

Anatomic, Functional, or Structural Problems

  • Adhesions (scar tissue)
  • Anal fissure
  • Anorectal fistula
  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Diverticular disease (diverticulitis and diverticulosis)
  • Dysphagia (difficult or painful swallowing)
  • Fecal incontinence
  • Flatulence (gas)
  • Gallstones
  • Gastroparesis (delayed gastric emptying)
  • Gastrointestinal (GI) tract bleeding
  • Hiatal (diaphragmatic) hernia
  • Indigestion/heartburn/dyspepsia/acid reflux/gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Abdominal Hernia
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Jaundice

Food Intolerance

  • Celiac disease
  • Lactose intolerance
Content licensed from:

Written by: the Healthline Editorial Team
Published on Aug 25, 2010
Updated on Aug 23, 2012
Medically reviewed by Rebecca Wylie Wallace, MD

This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to replace the care and information received from your health care provider. Please consult a health care professional with any health concerns you may have.
health
TOOLS
Condition & Treatment Search
Symptom Search
Drug Search

Eating Raw Cookie Dough is Even Riskier, FDA Warns

The FDA issued an official warning regarding the E. coli risk associated with consuming raw cookie dough containing contaminated flour.