Disorders of the Digestive System are Judging from the many media advertisements for stomach and “irregularity” remedies, it seems that people have a good deal of trouble with their digestive processes. We will consider a few digestive problems. One disorder of the digestive system is peptic ulcers.
are open sores in the lining of the stomach or intestine, usually in the duodenum. These sores appear to result from excess gastric juices chronically eroding the ining when there is little or no food in the stomach, but bacterial infection can play a role, too. Abdominal pain is the chief symptom of the disorder. Although the victims of ulcers are mostly adults, the disorder also occurs in children, particularly boys. People who experience high levels of stress seem to be more susceptible to ulcers than people who do not.
is a class of several viral diseases in which the liver becomes inflamed and unable to function well. The first symptoms often are like those of flu. But the symptoms persist, and jaundice, a yellowing of the skin, generally follows. Hepatitis A appears to be transmitted through contaminated food, water, and utensils. Hepatitis B and C infections occur through sexual contact, transfusion of infected blood, and sharing of contaminated needles by drug addicts, but the modes of transmission may be broader. Some forms of hepatitis can lead to permanent liver damage.
is another disease of the liver. In this disease, liver cells die off and are replaced by nonfunctional fibrous scar tissue. The scar tissue is permanent, and when it becomes extensive, the livers normal functions are greatly impaired. As we will see later, the liver is not only important in the digestive process; it also cleanses and regulates the composition of the blood. Cirrhosis can result from several causes, including hepatitis infection and, particularly, alcohol abuse (AMA, 1989).
may occur in any part of the digestive tract, especially in the colon and rectum. People over 40 years of age have a higher prevalence for cancers of the digestive tract than do younger individuals. Early detection for many of these cancers is possible and greatly improves the person’s chances of recovery.