Disorders of the Digestive System

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  • Topic: Liver, Peptic ulcer, Stomach
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  • Published : October 27, 2011
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Disorders of the Digestive System


Excessive secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach is hyperacidity, which is technically known as hyperchlorohydria. It causes heart burn (Severe pain and burning sensation in the epigastric region due to hyperacidity is called heartburn) . Hyperacidity leads to ulcers.


1. Medicines like aspirin
2. Drinks like alcohol
1. Beverages like coffee
1. Cigarette smoking and tobacco chewing
1. Foods containing excess of chilies and spices
1. Irregular food habits
1. Emotions and stress


Hyperacidity can be prevented by avoiding the factors listed above. Antacids containing sodium bicarbonate, calcium carbonate, magnesium hydroxide, aluminum hydroxide gels etc. are used for treating hyperacidity (heartburn).


An ulcer is a crater like lesion or erosion in a membrane. Ulcers develop in the alimentary canal, which is exposed to acidic gastric juice.

Types of ulcers

a) Peptic ulcer: This type of ulcer is caused due to the action of pepsin and HCl in the cardiac part of the stomach. a) Gastric ulcer: This type of ulcer is caused due to hyperacidity in the body part of the stomach. a) Duodenal ulcer: This type of ulcer occurs in the duodenal mucosa, which is constantly exposed, to the action of acidic chyme. Causes

Irregular food habits, beverages like coffee, medicines like aspirin, emotions and stress, hyperacidity and hypo secretion of mucus seem to be the causes for ulcers. HCL acts on the mucosa and causes wounds. However, in the normal course, the alkaline mucus neutralizes HCL and forms a chemical barrier between the highly acid contents of the lumen and the mucosa.

It has been discovered that gastric ulcers may also be caused due to bacterial infection. Bacteria like campylobacter pylori and Helicobacter pylori have been found to cause gastric ulcers.

Symptoms and Effects

Ulcers lead to stomach pain when the stomach is empty, back pain, indigestion, nausea, vomiting, regurgitation of gastric juice into the oesophagus, heartburn, bleeding from ulcers leading to black colored faces etc. chronic ulcers may lead to escape of semi-digested food and certain types of bacteria into the peritoneal cavity leading to severe pain. This condition is called peritonitis.


Ulcers can be prevented by avoiding the factors (listed above) which stimulate hyperacidity. Antacids are also used. However, in chronic cases, the lesions are removed by surgery. In severe cases, the gastric branch of the vagus nerve (10th cranial nerve) which stimulates gastric secretion is cut off. This surgery is called vagotomy.


Jaundice is a disorder in which the skin, eyes and nails become yellowish due to accumulation of the bile pigment, bilirubin.


a) Prehepatic or Haemolytic jaundice: This is also known as neonatal or physiological jaundice. It is caused due to heavy destruction of RBC or haemolysis. It occurs in newborn babies in which the rate of haemolysis is greater than the rate of elimination of bilirubin.

b) Obstructive or extra-hepatic jaundice: This is caused due to obstructions to the flow of bile from the liver into the duodenum. The most common cause is the formation of gallstones, which block the ducts. Blockage may also be caused due to inflammation of gall bladder, accumulation of mucus in the ducts etc.

c) Infective or hepatic jaundice: This type of jaundice is caused due to infection and cirrhosis of the liver. The causative organisms destroy the liver cells and make the liver incapable of processing bilirubin

Causes :

The bile pigment bilirubin is a waste product. It is formed due to the breakdown of hemoglobin when the RBCs breakdown, iron, globins’ and bilirubin are formed. Iron and globin are used again but bilirubin is a waste. It is excreted by the liver cells into the intestine along with bile juice and then passed out of the...
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