The Digestive System

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The digestive system is comprised of complex glands and organs which take part in the digestion of food. For the body to utilize food, it has to break the food into tiny particles that can easily be absorbed. Additionally, the body has to ensure excretion of the waste from the digestive system. Particularly, most digestive organs are tube-like and highly coiled to reduce the speed of flow of food for maximum digestion and absorption of the nutrients. The digestive system essentially is long with twisting tube running right from the mouth all the way to the anus. It also encompasses other organs outside the tube such as pancreas and liver which secret digestive juices.

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Effects of aging on the digestive system

Aging has minimal effects on the functioning of digestive system. As people grow older though, there are a number of age-related problems that affect the normal functioning of the digestive system. That is, the efficiency of the digestive system slows down with age due to several reasons which include damaged tissues that occur as a result lack of new cells formation. Secondly, the digestive tract muscle becomes less efficient, stiffer, and weaker: the decrease in number of smooth muscle along the tract makes the movement of food very slow. This is attributed to lack of strong contraction of the muscles aiding in the movement of food.

Physiology and normal function of the digestive system

Digestive system is made up of various organs that help in the breakdown of the chemical food components. Particularly, food breakdown happens through the use of digestive juices. The first organ is buccal cavity which forms the entry point of food into the system. In this buccal cavity, food is turned and mixed with large amounts of saliva using the tongue. Then, the food is mechanically broken down using the teeth. Chemically, salivary enzymes break down simple sugars to smaller particles. Notably, the oesophagus connects the mouth and the stomach which allows rhythmical movement of food along it in wave-like motion. This motion is caused by circular and longitudinal muscle contraction. Stomach forms the widest section of the digestive tract and stores food for around two to six hours. Here, food is mixed with different hormones and enzymes such as pepsinogen and gastric acid to help in protein digestion. The partly digested food mixed with gastric acid forms chyme.

The small intestine comprises jejunum, ileum, and duodenum. Digestion is completed in the duodenum through the help of pancreatic juice, bile, and other secretions occurring within the small intestine. Absorption of digested food occurs in the ileum. The final organ is large intestine which comprises colon, caecum, appendix, and rectum. It forms the section where some electrolytes and water are absorbed from the food. It also contains many microbes such as Klebsiella which help in the digestion process. The solid wastes are stored in the rectum where they stay until they are excreted through the anus. The normal functions of the digestive system are conversion of food into nutrients that are essential to the body, absorption of these nutrients into the body, and movement of waste or undigested food particles outside the body.

Common disorders of the digestive system

Disorders of the digestive system normally cause a lot of discomfort to a number of affected persons. The most common symptoms associated with various disorders include vomiting, nausea, constipation, and cramps. The symptoms vary with their actual causes thus it is very difficult diagnosing the disorders. There are three common disorders associated with digestive system. The first one is irritable bowel syndrome which is chronic and affects both small and large intestine. The disorder occurs due to slower or faster movement of food within the colon. The colon thus does not absorb the required amount of water leading to constipation or diarrhea. The disorder affects different people in different kinds of ways. Treatments include dietary changes in order to limit the consumption of foods likely to trigger flare-up and lifestyle changes aimed at reducing stress.

Inflammatory bowel disease is the other disorder. It occurs when either the large or the small intestine is inflamed. The swelling cause symptoms for example stomach cramps, diarrhea, and bloat. There are two basic types of inflammatory bowel disease, the ulcerative colitis and Crohns disease. The Crohns disease affects any part of the digestive tract. It makes the affected walls to thicken thus developing cobblestone-like outer surfaces. The ulcerative colitis affects the colon only. Those having ulcerative colitis develop ulcers on the lining of their colon. The ulcer leads to tearing of the colon lining and results into bloody diarrhea, stomach, and weight loss. In most cases, the disease is controlled through surgery. The final disorder is celiac disease which occurs due to overreaction of the body to gluten. The reaction damages the lining of the small intestine thus interfering with overall digestion process. Celiac disease is incurable but can easily be controlled through consumption of gluten free foods.

Pathophysiology of diseases associated with each system

Heartburn occurs due to the weakened valve between the stomach and oesophagus allowing stomach acid to regurgitate into oesophagus. This causes chest pains. Jaundice causes yellowing of skin and at same time causes the whiteness of the victims eyes. It results from blocked ducts which are supposed to deliver bile into the intestine. The other disease is portal hypertension which results from chronic alcoholism. It results in a damaged liver and obstruction of the blood flowing through the veins of the liver. This causes rising pressure of the blood between the liver and the gastrointestinal tract enlarging the veins within the umbilicus.

Peritonitis is another digestive system disease that is caused by inflammation of the abdominal cavity lining. The symptoms indicating the disease are referred to as peritoneal signs. These include tender abdomen, gurgles, rigid abdominal muscles, and rebound pain. Finally, esophageal varix which is the bulging of veins found on the oesophagus wall results from alcoholism. The pressure that builds within these veins causes their bursts and at times can lead to fatal bleeding.

From the discussion, it is evidenced that aging has a number of negative effects on the digestive system. These effects generally result to reduced efficiency of the digestive system and as such cause problems for instance constipation. The common digestive disorders which include celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and irritable bowel syndrome are primarily caused by the individuals lifestyles and kinds of foods that they occasionally consume. Therefore, living healthy lifestyles and eating of foods which are good for the digestive system can easily help in controlling these disorders. The pathophysiology of most diseases of the digestive system is the alteration of most of the organs within the digestive tract. This affects the normal functioning of these organs thus affecting the overall digestion process. Prevention of these diseases is essential since most of them are incurable and fatal at the same time.

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