Although most people avoid talking about it, having digestive problems is more common than you would think. Gastrointestinal disorders are often unpleasant, irritating and painful. More than these negative effects, they can hinder the normal functioning of your digestive system and compound your health woes.
Some of the most common digestive problems that afflict Americans are:
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) – Sometimes called acid reflux, GERD affects 20% of Americans. It occurs when gastric acid from your stomach flows back up into the esophagus causing heartburn, a symptom characterized by a burning chest pain. GERD is a disorder of the lower esophageal sphincter, the barrier between the stomach and the esophagus. In a normal digestion, the lower esophageal sphincter opens to let food into the stomach and closes to prevent the partially digested food and gastric acid from going back up into the esophagus. GERD occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter becomes weak or relaxes inappropriately.
- Gallstones – Your gallbladder is the organ that secretes and stores bile for digestion. Gallstones, hard deposits from excessive cholesterol or waste in your bile can form in your gallbladder causing pain in your abdomen, particularly in the upper right section. It is reported that gallstone affects 20 million Americans.
- Crohn’s disease – This chronic disease belongs to a group of conditions described as inflammatory bowel disease. It is an autoimmune disease – your immune system mistakes your body’s cells for foreign invaders and attacks them, causing damage. It usually affects your small intestines or the digestive tract. Abdominal pain, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, fever, and weight loss are the common symptoms. It is estimated that Crohn’s disease may be affecting up to 700,000 Americans.
- Ulcerative colitis – Another type of inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis have symptoms similar to Crohn’s. In this condition, however, the large intestine is solely affected. About 700,000 Americans may be affected by ulcerative colitis.
- Celiac disease – Serious sensitivity to gluten, a type of protein, which is found in wheat, barley and rye, characterize this disorder. If you have celiac disease and you eat gluten, your immune system will be agitated and will damage your villi, the part of your small intestines that aid in the absorption of nutrients from the foods that you eat. About 1 in every 133 Americans has this disorder, but 83% of them either do not realize that they have it or have been diagnosed with a different disorder. The symptoms of this disease differ between adults and children. Adults may have fatigue, anemia, bone loss, seizures and depression while children’s symptoms can include diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, vomiting, constipation, and weight loss. What may cause the misdiagnosis for this condition is the fact that some people may not manifest any symptom.
- Hemorrhoids – In this condition, the blood vessels located at your digestive tract’s end are inflamed. A common sign you may have hemorrhoids is when you see blood in the toilet during bowel movement. Chronic constipation, straining during your bowel movements, diarrhea and lack of fiber in your diet can cause hemorrhoids. 75% of Americans aged 45 years and older are reported to have hemorrhoids.
- Irritable bowel syndrome – The symptoms for irritable bowel syndrome are varied and the causes are not known. Some signs you may have irritable bowel syndrome are when your digestive tract is irritable, when you have stomach pain and when you experience discomfort a few times in a month for several months, and you can have constipation one day then have diarrhea another day. 10 to 15% of Americans are affected by irritable bowel syndrome.
Chiropractic Care for Digestive Disorders
As varied and complicated these digestive problems may be, chiropractic care may be the common effective treatment option for them. Your spinal nerves, working in coordination with your brain, control all your body functions. Particularly, your body’s digestion is controlled by the nerves in the spine in the thoracic region, or around the chest and abdominal area. Misalignment in the thoracic vertebrae causes these nerves to become irritated. This irritation will result in these nerves sending erratic impulses to the gastrointestinal organs, which can lead to various digestive problems, such as the most common disorders described earlier. Putting the thoracic spine into proper alignment through chiropractic care allows the release of tension the nerves and attached muscles may be holding. The release of tension can significantly help alleviate the various digestive problems and allow the body to heal and achieve optimal performance.