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The Gastrointestinal System

Dr. S. P .S Bakshi

A sense of fullness and a feeling of abdominal distention usually occur during or after the ingestion of food.
The most common ailments of the gastrointestinal tract are aphthous ulcers, heartburn, peptic ulcer, flatulence, and allergy to various substances and altered bowel habits.


The body’s digestive organs work together in a smoothly orchestrated process that passes food from the mouth to the stomach and then through the intestines from where it gets absorbed to provide nourishment to the rest of the body.

When something goes wrong, however the symptoms are unmistakable- a symptom complex including:

  • Nausea
  • Heartburn
  • Upper abdominal pain
  • Flatulence and eructation
A sense of fullness and a feeling of abdominal distention usually occur during or after the ingestion of food.
The most common ailments of the gastrointestinal tract are aphthous ulcers, heartburn, peptic ulcer, flatulence, and allergy to various substances and altered bowel habits.

Stomatitis or Aphthous Ulcers
Inflammation of the mucosa of the mouth is what is known as aphthous mouth. There is a general swelling and redness of the tissues of the mouth, which may become quite sore particularly during eating. The mouth may have an unpleasant odour. Sometimes bleeding or white patches in the mouth may also be seen. In some types of stomatitis the mouth becomes dry but in others there is extreme salivation. Ulceration may appear and in extreme cases gangrene may also be formed.

Heartburn
Heartburn is a term used to describe a burning sensation in the epigastrium (upper abdomen) and along the course of the oesophagus especially the lower as by sudden introduction of a large amount of fluid. It also can be caused by retention of regurgitated food and gastric content in the lower oesophagus.

Peptic Ulcer
Hypersecretion of acid gastric juice along with heartburn are important factors in the production of peptic ulcers. Peptic ulcers are the circumscribed erosions of the mucous membranes of the lower end of the oesophagus, the stomach or abdomen.

The cardinal symptom of peptic ulcers is epigastric pain, which may be described as burning, gnawing, cramping or aching. It usually comes in waves and last for several minutes. The daily pattern of pain is related to the secretion of acid and the presence of food in the stomach, which acts as a buffer. This pain is diminished in the morning when secretion is low and after meals when the food is present. The pain is most severe before meals and at bedtime.

Flatulence
Flatulence is the excessive accumulation of gas in the stomach or the intestines. The gas in the stomach may be expelled by belching while intestinal flatulence is relieved by passage of flatus. The accumulated gas produces a sensation of pressure, fullness or distention in the upper abdominal distention. It may also produce a sensation of smothering, palpitation, dyspnoea, cardiac pain and even a fear of impending death.

Allergy to Various Substances
It is said that one man’s food is another man’s poison. Food allergens including eggs, chocolates, pork, wheat, milk, nuts, strawberries, and cottonseed oil may cause sever gastrointestinal reactions.

Altered Bowel Habits
Altered bowel habits include constipation, diarrhoea or ineffectual urge for stool.

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