Gastrointestinal Disorders: Types, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Diseases or conditions that occur within the gastrointestinal tract are referred to as gastrointestinal disorders. Many of the gastrointestinal disorders show similar symptoms, so it’s important to recognize them accurately to get the right treatment.

Here are some common gastrointestinal disorders, their symptoms, and effective treatment options:


Gallstones are hardened deposits of digestive fluid that get formed in your gallbladder which is a small, pear-shaped organ on the right side of the abdomen. Gallstones are formed when:

  • Your bile contains too much cholesterol or waste
  • Your gallbladder does not empty properly 

Symptoms of Gallstones

  • Pain in your upper-right abdomen 
  • Vomiting
  • Back pain between your shoulder blades


  • Medications are used to dissolve gallstones. 
  • If that does not work, surgery is needed to remove the gallbladder.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

It occurs when stomach acid refluxes back up into your esophagus. People with asthma are at a higher risk of developing GERD. It mostly occurs after meals or at night.

Symptoms of GERD

  • Heartburn
  • Nausea 
  • Difficulty or pain when swallowing or breathing
  • Pain in your chest
  • Pain in your upper-right abdomen


  • Avoid beverages and foods that trigger the symptoms 
  • Take over-the-counter medications or antacids to minimize inflammation of the esophagus or stomach acid production
  • In some cases, surgery is required

Crohn’s Disease

It is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation of your digestive tract. This disease can affect any part of the digestive tract, but mostly affects the terminal ileum, which connects the beginning of the colon and end of the small bowel.

Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease

Signs vary from one person to another person depending on which part of the digestive tract is affected, but generally include:

  • Rectal bleeding
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Weight loss


  • Immunosuppressants
  • Topical pain relievers
  • Surgery

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

It affects the large intestine, and the signs may vary from person to person. Certain medicines, foods, and emotional stress can cause this condition.

Symptoms of IBS

  • Abdominal cramps and pain
  • Constipation 
  • Change in bowel habits 
  • Bloating


  • Avoid food that triggers IBS
  • Avoid caffeine 
  • Increase the fiber in your diet
  • Minimize stress 
  • Take the medicines prescribed by your doctor

Celiac Disease

It is an immune reaction to eating gluten, a protein found in rye, wheat, and barley. If you have this disease, eating gluten triggers an immune response in your small intestine which damages your small intestine and prevents the absorption of some nutrients.

Symptoms of Celiac Disease in Children

  • Constipation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Bloating

Symptoms of Celiac Disease in Adults

  • Bone loss
  • Seizures
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Anemia


  • Avoid eating gluten

Ulcerative Colitis

It is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes long-lasting ulcers and inflammation in your digestive tract which affects the rectum and innermost lining of your large intestine.

Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Blood in your stool
  • Diarrhea


  • Medication can reduce inflammation
  • Avoid foods that trigger the symptoms
  • In severe cases, surgery is required to remove the colon

If you notice any symptoms of these gastrointestinal disorders, consult your doctor immediately for early diagnosis so you can get the right treatment on time. Practice good bowel habits, maintain a healthy lifestyle and undergo cancer screening to prevent these disorders.

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Dr. Madhu Prasad, M.D., FACS

Dr. Madhu Prasad has over 30+ years of experience working as a general surgeon and surgical oncologist and providing the highest level of care in Anchorage, Alaska. He believes in providing quality care to patients and their families. Inspired by compassion and humanism, Dr. Prasad and his team work for the well-being of their patients.

Alaska Cancer Treatment Center

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