Common Abdominal Problems
The abdomen is largest part of the human body and contains a number of vital organs, any one of which can be as source of abdominal problems. Some abdominal problems are much more common than others. We'll explore several of these more common problems in this article.
The major systems involved are the gastro-intestinal system, commonly called the digestive tract or the gut, the urinary system containing the two kidneys, the bladder, two ureters and the urethra, the vascular system which contains major blood vessels and arteries, and the male and female reproductive systems.
Appendicitis - One of the more feared abdominal problems is appendicitis. An inflamed or infected appendix is usually a considered a medical emergency, with the goal being to remove the appendix before it can burst, causing greater infection and potentially leading to a life threatening situation. Curiously, this troublesome little organ (a small tube) has no known function, and its removal has no observable effects.
Diverticular Disease - Pouches in the large intestine, called diverticulum can sometimes trap food particles and become inflamed or infected. Not everyone has these pouches, but they tend to develop as people age. The condition in which diverticulum are present is called diverticulosis. Diverticulosis in itself is usually not a problem that needs to be dealt with, but if the pouches become inflamed, significant abdominal pain may be experienced, along with constipation, stomach cramps, and occasionally vomiting. Diverticulosis is usually effectively treated with antibiotics. If left untreated, more serious complications can result.
Crohn's Disease - Not too many people are familiar with Crohn's disease although it is one of the more common abdominal problems, more common than generally believed. Crohn's disease is an inflammation of the digestive tract, which can occur anywhere from the esophagus to and including the small and large intestines. Often just one or the other of the intestines is affected but in about have the cases of Crohn's disease, both are inflamed. Symptoms include abdominal pain, which range from mild to quite severe. In some cases, symptoms may extend to constipation, weight loss, and exhaustion due to upset of the digestive process.
Kidney Stones - Kidney stones are one of the more well known abdominal problems, and are created when minerals in the urine crystallize and solidify. The stones are usually passed out of the kidney at one time or another, often without incident, but if they are large enough to stretch the walls of the ureter, the result can be quite painful. Kidney stones can often be avoided through dietary practices, and when present are often broken up by ultrasound techniques.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease - GERD - Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD is a condition where the contents of the stomach are allowed to leak back into the esophagus when a ring of muscle, called the esophageal sphincter, fails to close properly. The condition experienced is more commonly known as heartburn, or milder cases, acid indigestion. Not all instances of heartburn indicate a person has GERD, but if the heartburn is chronic, GERD is usually the underlying reason. One of the contributors to GERD is what is known as a hiatal hernia, where the upper part of the stomach protrudes above the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a wall of muscle separating the stomach from the chest. Sometimes surgery is necessary to correct the hiatal hernia, and when done usually eliminates the symptoms of GERD and most instances of heartburn.
Vascular And Reproductive System Problems - There are numerous other abdominal problems that can occur, such as in the vascular system if one of the major blood vessels should rupture or weaken. Problems in the reproductive organs can also be a cause of abdominal pain, and although they tend to be centered in the pelvic region, especially in women, are usually considered to be abdominal problems.