General Digestive and Nutritional Problems

Most common digestive problems cause short-term symptoms, such as indigestion, diarrhoea, and constipation. However, long-term symptoms affecting the digestive system may reflect a more serious underlying disorder.

The first part of this section looks at indigestion, the upper abdominal discomfort that most people feel at some time. Occasionally, as is described in the second article, discomfort may be more vague and persist without an identifiable cause, in which case it is known as nonulcer dyspepsia.

The next articles cover diarrhoea and constipation. These problems often clear up on their own. If they persist, you should seek medical advice because there may be an underlying disorder that needs treatment. Diarrhoea may be a result of gastroenteritis or food poisoning, both of which can be serious in elderly people and young children.

Bleeding from the digestive tract can indicate a serious disorder and is discussed in the next article. New techniques developed in the last 30 years have enabled most cases of digestive tract bleeding to be diagnosed and treated without the need for surgery.

The final articles look at nutritional deficiencies, which are rare in the UK, and obesity, which affects about a quarter of the UK’s adult population.

Key anatomy

For more information on the structure and function of the digestive system, see Digestive System.


Nonulcer Dyspepsia




Food Poisoning

Bleeding from the Digestive Tract

Nutritional Deficiencies

Obesity in Adults

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.

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