What Might Be Causing Your Stomach Problems

Older woman holding stomach
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If you have been experiencing stomach problems, you might understandably be very worried about just what might be going wrong Maybe you are experiencing excessive gas and bloating. Perhaps your problem is diarrhea episodes that don’t seem to be getting better or you are finding that you are constipated much of the time. You might be wondering if your problems are just due to stress or perhaps you are worried that something more serious is wrong with you.

The first thing you need to do is to make an appointment with your doctor to obtain an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan. There are perhaps hundreds of digestive disorders that could be the problem. But while you are waiting, this article will provide you with an overview of some of the more common digestive disorders.

Note: Unless you are a health professional it can be hard to know if your symptoms are severe enough to warrant immediate treatment. The following two articles offer some guidelines. However, if you are having sudden and severe symptoms, don’t wait - seek out immediate medical attention.

Your Digestive System

As you wait to see your doctor, you can spend some time educating yourself as to what might be wrong. Typically, symptoms that occur in the upper part of your abdomen indicate a problem with organs in the upper part of your digestive system, while symptoms in the lower part of your digestive system indicate problems with the organs in the lower part of your digestive system, but this is not a hard and fast rule as pain can radiate.

However, to soothe your anxiety as to what is wrong with you, you can refresh your memory as to what you learned in high school biology about your body with the following two articles:

Ten Common Digestive System Disorders

The following list covers some of the more common causes of stomach and intestinal symptoms and problems.

You can read about each disorder to see if its symptoms sound like what you are experiencing. If it does, you can read further to see what you may be facing in terms of diagnostic testing and treatment. We will start with upper abdominal disorders and then move down to lower abdominal disorders.

1. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

GERD is a condition in which stomach acid "washes back" into the esophagus causing a burning sensation in the chest or throat, commonly referred to as "heartburn".

2. Peptic Ulcer

A peptic ulcer is a sore located in the stomach or duodenum. The symptoms of peptic ulcers vary widely from person to person.

3. Gastritis

Gastritis is diagnosed when there is inflammation in the lining of the stomach. This can result in a variety of digestive symptoms.

4. Gastroparesis

Gastroparesis is a condition in which there is a delay in the process of the stomach emptying its contents into the small intestine.

Its primary symptoms are nausea, a feeling of fullness, and vomiting relating to meals.

5. Gallbladder Problems

Gallstones: Gallstones are one type of gallbladder problems. They are crystallized components of bile that form within the gallbladder and the biliary tract (the path through which the liver secretes bile to the small intestine). Pain from gallstones typically occurs as an "attack," with pain in the upper abdomen.

Other Gallbladder Problems: There are other reasons why you may be experiencing gallbladder problems:

Problems After Gallbladder Removal: Some people experience ongoing digestive symptoms even after their gallbladder has been removed.

6. Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder in which the consumption of foods containing gluten trigger an immune system response that results in damage to the small intestine. People with celiac disease may suffer from a variety of gastrointestinal symptoms, but chronic diarrhea is the most common.

7. Lactose Intolerance

Lactose intolerance is a condition in which a person lacks the proper enzyme to digest the sugar found in dairy products. If you are lactose intolerant, you may notice that you experience digestive symptoms shortly after eating dairy foods that contain lactose, like milk and cheese.

8. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

IBD includes the diagnoses of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Both disorders result in a wide variety of gastrointestinal and non-gastrointestinal symptoms.

9. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

IBS is a disorder involving chronic abdominal pain, with ongoing problems with diarrhea, constipation or alternating bouts of each.

10. Diverticulitis

Some people have a condition called diverticulosis in which little pouches form on the lining of the colon. Diverticulitis is diagnosed when these pouches become inflamed. Symptoms may start out with mild lower abdominal tenderness and then worsen as the infection intensifies, to include increased pain, fever, nausea, and vomiting.

Cancer Fears

Of course, when we don't feel well, our thoughts tend to run away on us. Fears are particularly strong in the middle of the night (kids don't usually complain about monsters under the bed in the middle of the day!) For some people, experiencing stomach problems can lead to fears that they may have some form of cancer. 

These articles will provide you with an overview of some of the more common forms of digestive tract cancers:

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