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Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (FGIDs): Understanding Your Gut Health

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Burning sensation in stomatch - Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders

Functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs) is a comprehensive term previously used to refer to conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, non-ulcer dyspepsia, spastic colon, and nervous colon. Today, the gastroenterology community has embraced this updated term: functional gastrointestinal disorder.

What Does ‘Functional’ Mean? 

‘Functional’ indicates that no organic problem or disease is causing these symptoms. It primarily relates to motility or movement within the digestive system, spanning from the esophagus to the large intestine. This system involves nerves whose control centers are located in the brain.

FGIDs Impact on Lifestyle and Sensitivity  

Although FGID may not seem severe, it significantly impacts daily activities and lifestyle. Under conditions of stress, hurry, worry, competitiveness, or an overly ambitious lifestyle, particularly sensitive individuals may experience symptoms of burning and pain. Sensitivity here means imagining an injury when it is not there.

Common Symptoms and Manifestations of Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders  

One common symptom is excessive stomach acid, which when refluxed, causes a burning sensation behind the breastbone, known as non-ulcer dyspepsia when it affects the stomach lining.

Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders symptoms

Effects on Intestinal Movement  

Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (FGIDs) can also disrupt the movement in the small and large intestines, leading to disorders such as constipation—characterized by hard stools or the need to strain during defecation; diarrhea—frequent loose bowel movements; and a mixed type that alternates between constipation and diarrhea. These conditions can be quite bothersome for the patient and pose a serious challenge for both the medical community and the patients.

The Need for Proper Medical Attention 

Patients with FGIDs often do not receive sufficient attention or empathy from the medical community. The underlying cause is typically stress, which overburdens the gastrointestinal system, signaling that it cannot cope. Addressing this requires attentive patient listening, thorough clinical examinations, and a few simple tests to distinguish between a functional gastrointestinal disorder and a serious inflammatory bowel disease.

Diagnostic Tests and Procedures

Simple diagnostic tests include blood tests to check for inflammation, protein serum levels, and blood sugar levels. If these results are normal, doctors can confidently diagnose a motility issue in the intestines, for which counseling and symptomatic treatment may be prescribed. 

Addressing Advanced Cases of Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders

In cases where older individuals (over fifty) exhibit symptoms like significant weight loss or blood in the stools, the condition likely exceeds a functional disorder. Advanced diagnostic tests such as using a TV camera to examine the esophagus and large intestine, along with a simple stool test for fecal calprotectin, are necessary to measure inflammation.

Discussing FGIDs is crucial as they are common worldwide, affecting nearly one-fourth of the population, particularly among those aged 20 to 45. These disorders lead to work loss, emotional distress, financial difficulties, and considerable absenteeism from work and school. A thoughtful approach to diagnosis and treatment is essential to help patients manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. See Prof Dr. Muzaffar Latif Gill’s analysis on FGID. 

If you feel the same symptoms as Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, book your appointment with the best gastroenterologist in Islamabad and get yourself tested for it.