Steps You Can Take Now to Relieve Common Digestive Disorders

Many of us are all too familiar with the aches of heartburn, indigestion, and nausea. While mild, occasional discomfort in the stomach and intestines is considered normal; some gastrointestinal disorders need medical attention.

A few of the most commonly gastrointestinal disorders diagnosed in North Central West Virginia are acid reflux disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), ulcerative Colitis or Crohn’s Disease, and pancreatitis. While these ailments share many similar symptoms, there are a few key differences you can look for to determine which illness could be affecting your body.

Acid Reflux Disease

At the lower end of the esophagus at the entrance to your stomach is a valve called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). Normally, the LES closes as soon as food passes through it. If the LES does not close all the way or if it opens too often, acid produced by your stomach can move up into your esophagus. This can cause symptoms such as a burning chest pain called heartburn. If acid reflux symptoms happen more than twice a week, you have acid reflux disease, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

One of the most effective ways to treat acid reflux disease is to avoid the foods and beverages that trigger symptoms. Here are other steps you can take:

  • Eat smaller meals more frequently.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Do not eat at least two to three hours before lying down.
  • Do not wear tight clothes or tight belts.
  • If you are overweight or obese, take steps to lose weight with exercise and diet changes.
  • If symptoms persist please seek medical attention.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Also known as spastic colon, irritable colon, or nervous stomach, Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a particularly common gastrointestinal issue. The symptoms of IBS include cramps and abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and a change in bowel habits.

Frequently, sufferers of IBS alternate between constipation and diarrhea.

While stress is the single biggest trigger mechanism, IBS can be brought on by medications and certain foods. Here are steps you can take:

  • Exercise moderately and regularly.
  • Monitor the medications that you take. Aspirin, ibuprofen, and vitamin C tablets can irritate your gastrointestinal mucosa.
  • Modify your intake of dairy products.
  • Choose whole grain breads and cereals, fruit, and vegetables that are a good source of fiber.
  • It is best to avoid laxatives and over-the-counter high-fiber supplements as they can cause bloating and increased irritability.
  • If symptoms persist please seek medical attention.

Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn’s Disease

Ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease are inflammatory bowel diseases, which involves chronic inflammation of random areas of the colon and/or small intestine, causing severe diarrhea, acute abdominal pain, fever, loss of appetite, and fatigue. Crohn’s disease can be difficult to detect. It is diagnosed through a medical history and physical exam, imaging tests to look at the intestines, and laboratory tests.

One of the most effective ways to treat Crohn’s is to quit smoking. Here are other steps you should take:

  • Limit alcohol consumption.
  • Eat large quantities of fruits and vegetables.
  • Get plenty of fiber in your diet.
  • Consume a diet low in fat.
  • Reduce your sugar intake.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • If symptoms persist please seek medical attention.


Pancreatitis is a disease in which the pancreas becomes inflamed. There are two forms of pancreatitis: acute and chronic. Acute pancreatitis is a sudden inflammation that occurs over a short period of time. In the majority of cases, acute pancreatitis is caused by gallstones or heavy alcohol use. Chronic pancreatitis occurs most commonly after repeated episodes of acute pancreatitis.

One of the most effective ways to treat chronic pancreatitis is to eat a low fat diet. Here are other steps you should take:

  • Consume healthy carbohydrates.
  • Limit the amount of dairy intake.
  • If symptoms persist please seek medical attention

Please note, the information provided throughout this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images, and video, on or available through this website is for general information purposes only. If you are experiencing related symptoms, please visit your doctor or call 9-1-1 in an emergency.