Conditions which affect the stomach, esophagus, bowel, colon, liver or pancreas are considered digestive system diseases and disorders. Many people wonder about nervous disorders that affect the digestive tract and conditions such as anxiety, depression, stress and emotional trauma may all aggravate symptoms, but it is unclear whether any of these cause digestive system diseases and disorders. In fact, in most digestive system diseases and disorders the causes are unclear. There are only theories about what the causes may be and what may worsen the conditions or aggravate symptoms.
There are many digestive system diseases and disorders. Some are very common and easily treated, while some are more serious, difficult to diagnose and difficult to treat. There are some nervous disorders that affect the digestive tract. These are sometimes classified as symptoms or related conditions and sometimes as possible causes of digestive system diseases and disorders, because in some cases it is unclear which came first, the digestive disorder or the nervous disorder.
The most common of the digestive system diseases and disorders is heartburn. Heartburn affects an estimated 25% of people in the United States on and other western countries on a monthly basis according to a study from the Mayo Clinic. In contrast only 11% of those living in Eastern Asian countries have heartburn once or more per month. Excess stomach acid is what causes heartburn, but stress and anxiety are nervous disorders that can affect the digestive tract and increase stomach acid. Heartburn is a symptom of another of the common digestive system diseases and disorders; acid reflux.
Acid reflux or gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) symptoms include heartburn, difficulty swallowing, regurgitation of stomach acid and/or food, hoarseness, coughing and irritation of the larynx, throat and/or esophagus. This is one of the digestive system diseases and disorders that can lead to more serious conditions if left untreated. For example, acid reflux or GERD is one of the major risk factors for esophageal cancer. As with heartburn, anxiety and stress are nervous disorders that affect the digestive tract and can aggravate acid reflux symptoms.
Ulcerative colitis is another of the digestive system diseases and disorders. This one can be very serious and when symptoms are severe may require surgery to remove diseased portions or the entire colon. Anxiety, stress, depression or emotional turmoil (all nervous disorders that can affect the digestive tract) are often experienced by people with ulcerative colitis and can worsen symptoms. It is an inflammatory bowel disease, similar to Crohn's disease. Whereas irritable bowel syndrome is not considered an inflammatory disease, but because the names are similar, people sometimes get them confused.
Irritable Bowel System or IBS is one of the common digestive system diseases and disorders. Somewhere between 25 and 55 million Americans suffer from IBS and most of them are women. IBS is not life threatening and it does not lead to other more serious digestive system diseases and disorders, but it can still be hard to live with. IBS and nervous disorders that affect the digestive tract, such as stress and anxiety may cause a vicious circle in a person's life. Meaning, IBS may make a person anxious about when he/she will have to find a bathroom and the anxiety can aggravate symptoms of IBS, which increases anxiety, etc.
These are only some of the many digestive system diseases and disorders and while nervous disorders that affect the digestive system are not believed to cause any of these conditions, it is possible that they may aggravate symptoms, particularly when it comes to stress and anxiety. Eating too fast, too much, on the go, in the car, in front of the TV or computer are all poor eating habits that are very common. When treating digestive system diseases and disorders like IBS, acid reflux and heartburn, doctors typically advise that these eating habits may worsen symptoms. It has been shown that by slowing down and reducing stress in one's life, many of the symptoms of the most common digestive system diseases and disorders may be reduced or prevented entirely.