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Overview of Digestive Symptoms

By

Jonathan Gotfried

, MD, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University

Last full review/revision Mar 2020| Content last modified Mar 2020
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Disorders that affect the digestive (gastrointestinal) system are called digestive disorders. Some disorders simultaneously affect several parts of the digestive system, whereas others affect only one part or organ.

Some symptoms usually suggest a digestive disorder, such as

More general symptoms, such as abdominal pain Acute Abdominal Pain Abdominal pain is common and often minor. Severe abdominal pain that comes on quickly, however, almost always indicates a significant problem. The pain may be the only sign of the need for surgery... read more (see also Chronic and Recurring Abdominal Pain Acute Abdominal Pain Abdominal pain is common and often minor. Severe abdominal pain that comes on quickly, however, almost always indicates a significant problem. The pain may be the only sign of the need for surgery... read more ), passing of gas Gas Gas is normally present in the digestive system and may be expelled through the mouth (belching) or through the anus (flatus). There are three main gas-related complaints: Excessive belching... read more (flatulence), loss of appetite Loss of Appetite Loss of appetite (anorexia) implies that hunger is absent—a person with anorexia has no desire to eat. In contrast, a person with an eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa... read more , hiccups Hiccups Hiccups are repeated involuntary spasms of the diaphragm, followed by quick, noisy closings of the glottis. The diaphragm is the muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen and that is... read more , and nausea, may suggest a digestive disorder or another type of disorder. Chest or back pain Chest or Back Pain Pain in the middle of the chest or upper back can result from disorders of the esophagus or from disorders of the heart or aorta (see Chest Pain). Symptoms may be similar. Gastroesophageal reflux... read more usually suggests another type of disorder but sometimes is caused by a digestive disorder.

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Test your knowledge

Eosinophilic Esophagitis
Eosinophilic esophagitis is an inflammatory disorder in which the wall of the esophagus, the tube leading from the throat to the stomach, becomes filled with a type of white blood cells called eosinophils. Which of the following is believed to be the cause of this disorder?
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