Minor digestive problems, such as indigestion, constipation, or bouts of vomiting or diarrhoea, are common and short-lived, and most do not require treatment. However, drugs may sometimes be used to relieve digestive symptoms and treat specific disorders. Many of these drugs are available over the counter.
The first articles in this section discuss drugs that act on the upper digestive tract. These include antiemetics, which relieve nausea and vomiting; antacids, which relieve indigestion; and ulcer-healing drugs, which are used to treat peptic ulcers. Drugs that act on the lower digestive tract are described next. These include aminosalicylate drugs, which are used to treat long-term inflammation of the intestines; antidiarrhoeal drugs, which relieve diarrhoea; and laxatives, which are used to relieve constipation or to clear the intestine before a medical procedure. Antispasmodic drugs and motility stimulants, used to treat disorders caused by abnormal muscle action in the digestive tract, are discussed in the following article. The final article covers oral rehydration preparations, which replace water and other essential substances that are lost in vomiting and diarrhoea.
For information on the structure and function of the digestive system.
From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.
The subjects, conditions and treatments covered in this encyclopaedia are for information only and may not be covered by your insurance product should you make a claim.