Help for stomach and intestinesSodburn, nausea and bloating are common stomach complaints. Often these extend into the intestines or first develop there: Bloating, diarrhea, and constipation.
The digestive organs stomach and intestines perform a variety of functions: They break down food into its components, absorb the digestible portions for energy, excrete indigestibles and regulate the body's water balance. If the stomach and intestines get out of balance, typical symptoms become noticeable in everyday life.
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Typical symptoms of gastrointestinal disorders
Diseases of the digestive organs stomach and intestines often manifest themselves in characteristic symptoms:
Bloating: Excessive buildup of intestinal gas that bloats the abdomen.
Diarrhea: More than three bowel movements per day, very soft to liquid consistency and/or increased stool volume.
Vomiting: Jerky emptying of stomach contents via esophagus and mouth.
Stomach pain: pain originating in the stomach.
Heartburn: Sharp pain in the chest accompanied by acid regurgitation (reflux).
Nausea: feeling of queasiness in the stomach triggered by the vomiting center in the brain and increased salivary flow.
Constipation: Fewer than three bowel movements per week, hard to lumpy stools and/or heavy pressing during bowel movements.
Feeling of fullness: stomach distention is manifested by excessive filling or tightness of the stomach.
These symptoms are often triggered by the following diseases: chronic inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, gastrointestinal flu or irritable stomach and irritable bowel syndrome. Problems with stomach and intestines treat the family doctor or gastroenterologist.
Why stomach and intestines get out of balance
A variety of causes can upset normal, regulated digestion. Among the most common are:
– Anxiety, tension, nervousness – other underlying disease – malnutrition – genetic predisposition – infections with viruses or bacteria – lack of exercise – stress, overwork – food intolerances, allergies
When internal and external factors affect the stomach and intestines, complaints such as bloating, abdominal pain or diarrhea occur. In addition to digestive complaints, the body also develops accompanying symptoms in the event of nutrient deficiency. For example, a tendency to bruise when deficient in vitamins B and K, muscle cramps when deficient in magnesium, or fatigue when deficient in iron.
If viruses and bacteria are responsible for the gastrointestinal complaints, physicians speak of a gastrointestinal flu, for which vomiting diarrhea is typical. It is usually caused by an infection with noro, rota, astro or adenoviruses – the result is inflammation (gastroenteritis). Symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are severe, but usually last only hours to a few days.
What is the function of the stomach?
The stomach is a hollow organ with an average capacity of 1.5 liters, consisting of muscles and glands. The glands of the stomach form:
Hydrochloric acid: It acidifies the food pulp, initiates protein digestion and kills microorganisms.
Stomach mucus: It protects the stomach wall from the hydrochloric acid inside so that the stomach does not digest itself.
Protein-cleaving enzymes: They break down proteins into their individual components.
Intrinsic factor: It is necessary for the absorption of vitamin B12 in the intestine.
How long the food pulp remains in the stomach depends on how well it has been pre-chewed and what it consists of: easily digestible foods such as liquids or foods rich in sugar are transported further more quickly, foods that are difficult to digest and contain protein and fats have to be prepared for the intestinal passage for a longer time. Portions of digested food are released through a ring-shaped muscle at the exit of the stomach, the pylorus.
The time of day is also crucial for the function of the stomach: in the evening hours, the movements of the stomach wall become slower and the glands release fewer digestive fluids. During sleep, the stomach stops its activity completely. Thus, the food pulp remains in the stomach until the next morning, straining to sleep and may begin to ferment. This in turn leads to stomach pain, bloating, heartburn and belching.
The intestine: central digestive organ
In adult humans, the entire intestine is eight meters long. The intestine surface amounts to spread out 400 to 500 square meters, which corresponds to the floor space of a basketball court.
The intestine is divided into three main parts: the small intestine, the large intestine and the rectum. The main function of the small intestine is to absorb nutrients and water. The large intestine begins exactly where the appendix is located. In the large intestine, undigested food components are thickened by dehydration. Increasing filling of the bowel eventually triggers reflex emptying. The last 15 to 20 centimeters of the intestine are called the rectum (rectum). At its end is the sphincter muscle, which closes the intestine to the outside.
Intestinal flora: Microbiome is an important part of the immune system
The intestine is not only responsible for digestion, but also plays an important role in the body's immune system. About 100 trillion bacteria of different species settle on the intestinal wall. In its entirety it is called the microbiome. Our intestinal flora breaks down indigestible food residues. Repels pathogenic germs. Drugs such as antibiotics or hormones can damage the intestinal flora. Thus weakening the body's immune defenses.
Digestive Problems? Get medical advice on the possible causes!
Regular digestion is also important for a stable immune system. For a sluggish digestive system to constipation can promote the growth of harmful intestinal bacteria. In addition, regular bowel movements are essential to eliminate metabolic products or toxic substances.
If the microbiome is out of balance, the entire immune system is weakened. An intestinal reorganization with prebiotics. Probiotics can rebuild the damaged intestinal flora. They contain probiotic germs that create a favorable environment for intestinal bacteria and, in this way, revive the immune system and digestive system.
Nervous system in the intestine – the abdominal brain
More than 100 million nerve cells surround the digestive tract like a thin net. These are more cells than the entire spinal cord has. This autonomic nervous system has the same cell types, neurotransmitters and receptors as the central nervous system. This explains why the intestine reacts very sensitively to external and psychosomatic influences: It plays a decisive role in what is called intuition. The intestine functions as a second brain that receives information from the body via nerve cells.
Hormones secreted in the intestinal brain can directly affect the brain. Doctors speak of the gut-brain axis. Biochemical processes in the intestine have a direct effect on our emotional and mood state. However, the flow of information also works in the opposite direction. Hormones formed in the brain, such as the happiness hormones serotonin and dopamine or stress hormones, can influence intestinal activity via the intestinal brain and thus cause the proverbial "butterflies in the stomach" or be responsible for diarrhea and flatulence.