4 Common Digestive Diseases and How to Treat Them

doctor speaking with patient

Many people are hesitant to talk about their digestive problems, forcing them to suffer in silence. More and more people are suffering from gastrointestinal disorders. According to the National Institutes of Health, almost 70 million people in the United States suffer from at least one type of digestive problem, with 33% needing hospitalization.

Simple changes to your lifestyle and taking over-the-counter medicine can offer some remedy to minor ailments. Here are 4 of the most common digestive issues that people have. If you think your symptoms fit one of these conditions, consult a GI doctor in Salt Lake City.

1. Lactose intolerance

The National Institutes of Health estimates that almost 50 million Americans are lactose intolerant, meaning their body cannot properly digest milk. Some populations are more likely to be lactose intolerant, including 75% of African-Americans and American Indians and almost all Asian Americans.

If you’re lactose intolerant, you might experience bloating, nausea, abdominal pain or cramping, and diarrhea when consuming milk and other dairy products. The severity differs from person to person, and symptoms usually manifest at least half an hour to 2 hours after dairy consumption. While you can consume a small number of dairy products, it’s best to avoid them altogether.

2. Reflux

Symptoms of reflux, including heartburn, are the most common digestive complaint today. People suffering from reflux typically complain of a burning sensation rising from the abdomen and into the chest. Some also report a sour taste in the mouth.

Most people have probably experienced acid reflux once or twice in their lives. But if you get reflux at least once a week, you might be suffering from gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. Not only is GERD painful, but it could also lead to esophageal damage.

Mild GERD can be treated with medication, while more severe cases might require surgery.

guy eating food

3. Gallstones

Gallstones are hardened bile and cholesterol that are formed in your gallbladder. It is estimated that at least 25 million Americans have gallstones, with a million newly diagnosed cases each year. Over a quarter of people with gallstone will need some form of treatment. While medication can dissolve gallstones, the most common technique is surgery.

Gallstones become a severe condition if they start to affect the liver, gallbladder, or pancreas. For example, gallstone buildup can block the flow of bile in the gallbladder, causing extreme pain, fever, and vomiting that lasts for hours. In that case, immediate medical intervention and perhaps even surgery will be needed.

4. Celiac disease

Simply put, celiac disease is a severe allergy to gluten, a protein commonly found in grains such as rye, barley, and wheat. Like lactose intolerance, consuming gluten forces your immune system to go on overdrive, seriously affecting your health. Common symptoms include bloating, diarrhea, vomiting, sudden weight loss, and abdominal pain. However, some people might not experience any symptoms at all.

The only known treatment is to remove gluten from your diet. Gluten can easily be substituted with other grains such as quinoa, soy flour, and brown rice.

Gastrointestinal problems are inconvenient, embarrassing, and sometimes painful. But that doesn’t mean you have to suffer alone. If you’re experiencing recurring GI problems, consult a doctor.

The Author

Share this on

Scroll to Top