Gastrointestinal diseases are diseases of gastrointestinal tract. Gastrointestinal tract or digestive system tract is system of serially connected organs from the mouth to the anus.
Mouth, Pharynx, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum and anus are major regions of digestive system.
Symptoms of gastrointestinal diseases are of various types. These symptoms can occur in isolation or together.
Careful analysis of the clues provided both from the gut itself and from the effect of gut disease on the body as a whole are required if diagnosis is to be achieved.
There are some symptoms that occur during normal gut functioning and its awareness and cannot be considered as symptoms of gastrointestinal diseases.
For example, thirst and hunger are common symptoms. Hunger may be associated with epigastric discomfort or pain when intense.
Thirst can cause sensation of dryness of the mouth.
As we eat food the Swallowing is normally perceived, and there is temperature sensation in the upper and mid-oesophagus, as well as in the mouth. Normal gastric motility can, to some extent, be perceived and so could movement of gas and fluid in the gut, called borborygami.
Sensation of rectum and colon prior to defecation felt as call to stool, or during constipation is part of routine physiology and aspects of the normal sensation of gut activity.
But various diseases can cause these routine perceptions to alter and new symptoms may appear.
Various Symptoms of Gastrointestinal Diseases
Dysphagia is, the sensation of something sticking in the throat or chest during swallowing. It indicates a problem in esophagus. Dysphagia could indicate esophageal stricture, from benign or malignant causes. Dysphagia is a potentially serious symptom that should always be investigated.
Heart burn is the burning sensation due to acid reflex from the stomach into the lower part of the oesophagus. It causes pain in the epigastrium, chest and neck. It is difficult to distinguish from angina pectoris. Heartburn occurs usually at night when patient lies flat in bed, or after bending or stooping when abdominal pressure is increased. Alcohol often induces heartburn.
This symptom is different from dysphagia and should not be confused with. Here, there is a pain on swallowing but the difficulty or sticking sensation is absent. It usually is due to local infection. It can occur in pharyingits. It is also occurs in patients with AIDS in whom candida or herpes simplex often occur in the oesophagus.
Dyspepsia or Indigestion
This is actually group of symptoms which include heratburn, pain, distension, nausea or ‘an acid feeling’ occurring after eating or drinking. The patients may also use this term to describe an inability to digest food. The symptom is subjective, frequent, and usually benign in origin. It sometimes may be associated with peptic ulcer.
It describes excessive wind. It is associated with belching, abdominal distension and the passage of flatus per rectum. It usually represents a functional disturbance in which excessive air is swallowed certain foods produce relatively large amount of gas, for example legumes, resulting in increased flatulence. very infrequently flatulence is associated with organic disease of the gastrointestinal tract, but
Hiccups are commonly occurring benign repeated sudden diaphragmatic contraction, often triggered by upper gastrointestinal irritation. They go on their own. Occasionally hiccups indicate brainstem disease.
Nausea and Vomiting
Everyone once in a while has experienced both nausea and vomiting. Some people feel them more as compared to others. Vomiting is a neurogenic response trriggered by chemoreceptors in the brainstem or reflexly through irritation of the stomach. Vomiting consists of a phase of nausea, followed by hypersalivation, pallor, sweating and hyperventilation.
Retching is the term used for an involuntary effort to vomit which is followed by expulsion of gastric content through nausea and vomiting of gastrointestinal origin is associated with local pain in the abdomen.
Constipation is a subjective complaint. Patient gets a sense of inadequate emptying of bowel by defecation. The term is sometimes used to describe the passage of hard stools, irrespective of stool frequency.
Constipation is most commonly used to indicate decrease in frequency of stools. The frequency of stool varies from person to person. The passage of formed stool frequently than twice a week is usually taken to indicate an abnormality if bowel frequency in clinical practice.
Diarrhoea consists of watery stools of large volume which may or may not contain blood. It indicates frequent loose motions. Usually diarrhoea occurs due to viral or bacterial infection.
Chronic diarrhoea should raise the possibility of malabsorption with steatorrhoea. Steatorrhoea is the passage of pale, bulky stools containing excessive fats that commonly float in water and are difficult to flush away.
Depending upon the causation the pain may occur in the upper abdomen, in the hypochondrium, in the lower abdomen, or in the rectum. The important features of abdominal pain are its site, intensity, character of duration and frequency. Aggravating and relieving factors should be noted.
Abdominal distension has many causes. It may relate to flatulence, or more commonly to functional bowel disease in which the viscera are enlarged because their contractility is diminished from disease of the bowl musculature, or its innervation. Distension is also a feature of steatorrhoea [passage of fat laden stool], or from visceral enlargement in liver disease.
Malabsorption of the food, loss of appetite or starvation are common causes of weight loss. It is also a feature of malignancy.
Hematemesis is passage of blood in vomiting. It result from bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract.
It result from bleeding in the rectum or anal canal, most commonly from piles but sometimes from anal or rectal carcinoma. Hematoschezia is the term used for passage of fresh blood through anus. It indicates a pathology in lower gastrointestinal tract.
Melena refers to passage of dark, partially digested blood along feces. It implies bleeding from a site more proximal than rectum, usually in the upper colon or small intestine.
Jaundice refers to yellowish appearance of skin and conjuctiva of eyes. It may be associated with other cutaneous systemic features of liver disease, often with dark urine.Jaundice is caused by increased bilirubin levels and implies disease of the liver or the biliary tract.
Jaundice could also result from excessive haemolysis.
These symptoms cover most of gastrointestinal diseases presentation.