The digestive system’s main function is to break down food in order to absorb its nutrients. The nutrients in food are used by the body for energy, growth, and cell repair. Food and drink must be changed into smaller molecules of nutrients before the blood absorbs them and carries them to cells throughout the body.
There are several organs that are part of the digestive system. The gastrointestinal (GI) tract—also called the digestive tract, is made up of the hollow organs (mouth, esophagus, stomach, instantizes, rectum and anus). The liver, pancreas, and gallbladder are the solid organs of the digestive system. Every organ has a role in breaking down food and managing the waste material.
Parts of the nervous and circulatory systems also play roles in the digestive process. Together, a combination of nerves, hormones, bacteria, blood, and the organs of the digestive system completes the complex task of digesting the foods and liquids a person consumes each day.
Digestive System Disorders Symptoms
- Abdominal pain: the term abdominal pain generally is used to describe pain originating from organs within the abdominal cavity. Organs of the abdomen include the stomach, small intestine, colon, liver, gallbladder, spleen, and pancreas. Abdominal pain can range in intensity from a mild stomach ache, maybe caused by excessive food intake, to severe acute pain. The pain is often nonspecific and can be caused by a variety of conditions, like a failure during the digestive process.
- Acid reflux and heartburn: Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid can leak back up into the esophagus, due to excessive food intake or laying down immediately after eating. Symptoms include heartburn, bloating, burping, nausea, dry coughing, regurgitation and bloody vomit/stools. When not treated or managed appropriately, this condition can develop into one of the more serious, life threatening digestive diseases, including GI bleeding, esophageal cancer or hernia.
- Colic: when it originates in the intestines, it can cause irregular spasms in the intestinal muscle fibers. Renal colic is caused by the transit of stones from the kidneys to the bladder, which is very painful. And biliary colic occurs when kidney stones move from the gallbladder to the bile duct.
- Constipation: is defined medically as fewer than three stools per week, and severe constipation as less than per week. It is usually caused by the slow movement of material through the colon (bowel), due to different factors, such as medication, poor bowel habits, low fiber diets, possibly abuse of laxatives, hormonal disorders, diseases primarily of other parts of the body that also affect the colon, and high levels of estrogen and progesterone during pregnancy.
- Flatulence: excessive gas accumulated in the stomach and intestines, caused by indigestion, food intolerance, or other digestive conditions. Much of the gas generated is due to microbial breakdown of foods so that gases, for example, hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and methane are generated; the odor is from other trace waste gases or compounds such as skatole and sulfur-containing substances.
- Diarrhea: when you have diarrhea, your bowel movements (or stools) are loose and watery. It’s very common and usually not serious. It may be acute (short duration), which is related to bacterial infections or viruses, or chronical (long duration), which is usually caused by digestive disorders.