What is Gastrointestinal Disease? Symptoms And Types Of Gastrointestinal Disease?

Gastrointestinal diseases (abbrev. GI diseases or GI illnesses) refer to diseases involving the gastrointestinal tract, namely the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine and rectum, and the accessory organs of digestion, liver, gallbladder, and pancreas.

Some of the examples of gastrointestinal diseases are GERD, diarrhea, colorectal cancer, etc. When being examined, some of the diseases show nothing wrong with the GI tract, but there are still some symptoms. Other diseases have symptoms, and there are visible irregularities in the GI tract. Most gastrointestinal diseases can be prevented or treated. These diseases affect the gastrointestinal (GI) tract from the mouth to the anus.

There are two types: functional and structural.

Symptoms include nausea/vomiting, food poisoning, lactose intolerance, and diarrhea.


There are two types of gastrointestinal diseases.

They are as follows:

In Functional gastrointestinal disease, the GI tract looks normal when examined, but does not move properly. The most common problems affecting the GI tract (including the colon and rectum) are constipation, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), food poisoning, gas, bloating, GERD, and diarrhea. Many factors may upset your GI tract and its motility (ability to keep moving), which includes:

  • Eating a low fiber diet.

  • Traveling or other changes in routine.

  • Consuming a lot of dairy products.

  • Stress

  • Overuse of anti-diarrheal medications that, over time, weaken the bowel muscle movements called motility.

  • Taking antacid medicines containing calcium or aluminum.

  • Pregnancy.

  • Constipation- It is a functional problem. It makes it hard for you to have a bowel movement (or pass stools) stools are mostly infrequent, or incomplete. Constipation is usually caused due to inadequate roughage or fiber in your diet, or a disruption of your routine or diet. You can treat your constipation by:

  • Increasing the amount of fiber

  • Increase water intake in your diet.

  • Exercise regularly and increase the intensity of your exercises as per your tolerance.

  • Moving your bowels when you have the urge. If these treatment methods don't work, then you can add laxatives. You should make sure that you are up to date with your colon cancer screening and, you should always follow the instructions on the laxative medicine as well as the advice of your concerned doctor.

Structural Gastrointestinal Diseases-

In structural gastrointestinal diseases, your bowel looks abnormal upon examination and also doesn't work properly. Sometimes, this abnormality needs to be removed surgically. Examples of structural GI diseases include strictures, hemorrhoids, colon polyps, colon cancer, and inflammatory bowel disease.

Hemorrhoids- These are dilated veins in the anal canal, it is a structural disease. They are the swollen blood vessels that line your anal opening and they are caused by chronic excess pressure from straining during a bowel movement, persistent diarrhea, or pregnancy.

There are two types of hemorrhoids: internal and external.

Internal hemorrhoids-It is the blood vessels inside of your anal opening. When they fall into the anus as a result of straining, they become irritated and started to bleed. Internal hemorrhoids can fall enough to prolapse (sink or stick) out of the anus. The treatment of internal hemorrhoids include

• Improving bowel habits (i.e., avoiding constipation, not straining during bowel movements, and moving your bowels when you have the urge).

• Your doctor removed them surgically. Surgery is only needed for a small number of people with very large, painful, and persistent hemorrhoids.

External hemorrhoids- External hemorrhoids are the veins that lie just below the skin on the outside of the anus. Sometimes, the external hemorrhoidal veins burst and blood starts to clot form under the skin after straining. This painful condition is called a pile. Treatment includes removing the clot and vein under local anesthesia and/or removing the hemorrhoid itself.

Can gastrointestinal diseases be prevented?

Colon and rectum diseases can be prevented or minimized by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, practicing good bowel habits, and getting screened for cancer. A colonoscopy is usually recommended for those who are average-risk patients of the age of 45. If you have a family genetic history of colorectal cancer or polyps, a colonoscopy may be recommended at a younger age. Typically, a colonoscopy is mostly recommended for those, who are ten years younger than the affected family member. (For example, if your father was diagnosed with colorectal cancer or polyps at age 45, you should begin screening at age 35.) If you see symptoms of colorectal cancer, you should consult your doctor right away.


Common symptoms of gastrointestinal diseases include:

  • A small change in bowel habits.

  • Blood on or in the stool that is either bright or dark.

  • Unusual abdominal or gas pains

  • After passing stool your bowel did not get emptied.

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