List of Common Digestive Diseases

Doctor examining a woman's stomach.
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Digestive diseases can interfere with the daily lives of people. Some people may put up with the often painful and uncomfortable symptoms, but treatment is available to get treat digestive disorders or to provide relief so people can live relatively normal lives. Some of the diseases may lead to serious damage to the digestive tract if left untreated.


Ulcers damage the lining of the stomach because of bacterial infections or adverse side effects of medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen or naporoxen, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Spicy foods and stress may aggravate ulcers, but do not cause them. Antibiotics or antacids usually alleviate problems long enough for minor ulcers to heal.

Acid Reflux

Heartburn or acid indigestion results in stomach acid backing up into the esophagus to create a burning sensation or sour taste in the mouth. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) affects people who suffer acid reflux symptoms more than twice a week. Acid reflux occurs because the lower esophageal sphincter does not close properly. Some people may get more bouts of heartburn from certain foods, but each individual has different reactions to particular foods. Cigarette smoking contributes to heartburn by causing the esophageal sphincter to relax.

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease can affect children or adults. Symptoms include diarrhea, bloating, abdominal pain, skin rash or a thinning of bones. In children it can cause growth failure. People with the disease are advised to eliminate foods with gluten, a protein that is found in wheat, rye and barley. Gluten damages the lining of the small intestine for people with the disease.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowl syndrome affects the muscles in the intestines. It can cause gas, abdominal pain, diarrhea or constipation. The syndrome can be painful and uncomfortable. It usually does not lead to further diseases. Most people can control symptoms through diet, stress management and medication.

Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

Inflammatory bowel diseases include Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. It leads to severe bowel problems, abdominal pain and malnutrition. Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis can be painful and debilitating. Medication can eliminate symptoms and prevent flare-ups. Surgery may be needed in some cases to repair the colon.


The disease occurs when pouches in the large intestine become infected and inflamed, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. Symptoms may include severe abdominal pain often in the lower left side of the abdomen, constipation, diarrhea, nausea or fever. People with the disease are advised to eat more fiber to help with proper digestion.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911. If you think you may have COVID-19, use the CDC’s Coronavirus Self-Checker before leaving the house.