The stomach and intestines are important components of the digestive tract, which we only notice if they do not work and hit us on the stomach. Unfortunately, our civilized lifestyle does not help us make the stomach and bowel work easier - office work, fast food and little exercise lead to typical complaints such as constipation; In addition, colon cancer is the third most common cancer in Germany besides breast cancer and lung cancer.
The digestive tract
The human digestive tract includes all the organs that receive, crush, carry on, break down and absorb the food. After the mouth, throat and esophagus, the stomach is the next organ with many tasks. Gastric acid and protein-degrading enzymes begin to digest proteins, acidic gastric juice kills almost all bacteria, and all solid food components remain in the stomach until mixed with juice and liquefied. Then the porridge gets into the intestine.
In the first intestinal section (duodenum) bile and pancreatic fluid are added - now the fat digestion can begin. In the next part of the small intestine, it absorbs the nutrients, because later in the colon, only liquid and dissolved electrolytes are absorbed. During the daily digestive process, about ten liters of fluid enter the intestine (through drinking, saliva, gastric juice, bile, pancreatic secretions, intestinal juices), which must be resumed in the intestine - if this system is disturbed, diarrhea and dehydration threaten.
We all know some very common diseases of the digestive system from our own experience. They cause discomfort for a few days, but can be managed with home remedies, bed rest, and plenty of fluid intake. Gastrointestinal complaints are extremely diverse, have various symptoms and often occur in combination. Very rarely does anyone have only pain or just diarrhea as the sole symptoms.
Common symptoms include pain, pressure or bloating, heartburn, nausea, vomiting of stomach contents or blood, bloating, diarrhea, constipation. Also, symptoms may include hiccups, a burning sensation, blood or mucus in the stool, and other stool changes. The situation is different, if there is no improvement - for persistent gastrointestinal infections with fever (evidence of intestinal infection), gastritis or gastric or duodenal ulcer, one should return to professional support.
Chronic symptoms suggest irritable bowel syndrome or irritable stomach, and lactose intolerance and food allergy are common disorders that can be associated with recurrent diarrhea after eating certain foods. Less common are Crohn's disease, celiac disease (native sprue) or a systemic disease such as porphyria. Even eating disorders lead to the unnatural eating behavior to persistent gastrointestinal discomfort.
For some illnesses, it may not be possible to wait a few days to see if things do not get better on their own - but the symptoms of these diseases are often so dramatic that nobody would even dream of waiting. The specialist speaks of the acute abdomen and refers to diseases that occur suddenly and without treatment can be life-threatening: gastric bleeding, appendicitis, intestinal obstruction (ileus) or inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) must be mentioned here - the latter is only in close to the stomach and intestine, but severely impaired in inflammation.
Diverticula, hemorrhoids or bowel cancer are noticeable with blood or mucus in the stool, but the latter can also grow for a long time without any visible signs - that's why annual colon cancer screening is so important.