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Stomach Disorders
Colitis and IBS have similar symptoms, however colitis is more rare and potentially serious. It is characterized by an inflammation of the innermost lining of the colon.

Major symptoms may include:

  • Diarrhea containing blood and mucus
  • Severe abdominal pain and cramping
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Anemia
  • Weight loss

Some complications may accompany those suffering from Colitis such as hemorrhage, ulcerative colitis, and an increased risk of colon cancer. Colitis is treated with drugs and a special diet. Surgery to remove all or most of the colon may be required in severe cases or those that are considered very likely to progress to cancer. Colitis Link


Gastritis is not a single disease, but several different conditions that all have inflammation of the stomach lining. Gastritis can be caused by:

  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • rolonged use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin or ibuprofen
  • nfection with bacteria such as Helicobacter pylori ( H. pylori ).
  • ajor surgery, traumatic injury, burns, or severe infections diseases, such as pernicious anemia, autoimmune disorders, and chronic bile reflux

Symptoms can include:

  • bdominal upset or pain
  • elching
  • abdominal bloating
  • nausea
  • omiting
  • feeling of fullness or of burning in the upper abdomen.

Blood in your vomit or black stools may be a sign of bleeding in the stomach, which may indicate a serious problem requiring immediate medical attention.

Treatment usually involves taking drugs to reduce stomach acid and thereby help relieve symptoms and promote healing. (Stomach acid irritates the inflamed tissue in the stomach.) Avoidance of certain foods, beverages, or medicines may also be recommended. Gastritis Link

Heartburn/GERD (Gastroesophagial Reflux Disease) Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) does not close properly and stomach contents leak back, or reflux, into the esophagus. When refluxed stomach acid touches the lining of the esophagus, it causes a burning sensation in the chest or throat called heartburn. The fluid may even be tasted in the back of the mouth, and this is called acid indigestion. Occasional heartburn is common but does not necessarily mean one has GERD. Heartburn that occurs more than twice a week may be considered GERD, and it can eventually lead to more serious health problems.

Some people have GERD without heartburn. Instead, they experience pain in the chest, hoarseness in the morning, or trouble swallowing. You may feel like you have food stuck in your throat or like you are choking or your throat is tight. GERD can also cause a dry cough and bad breath. Heartburn, Hiatal Hernia, and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) Link

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

IBS is also called spastic colon, nervous bowel, or irritable colon. It is characterized by diarrhea and abdominal cramps. IBS is caused by excessive spasms of the large intestine. IBS is probably the most common abdominal complaint. It usually begins during late adolescence or early adulthood and women are affected twice as often as men.

Major symptoms of IBS include:

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Gassiness
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Diarrhea occurring shortly after eating and/or immediately after getting up in the morning.

Psychological factors may play some role in this condition, so decreasing stress and anxiety levels may ease symptoms. Consuming a diet that contains adequate fiber may also provide relief. Irritable Bowel Syndrome Link

Indigestion, also known as upset stomach or dyspepsia, is discomfort or a burning feeling in the upper abdomen, often accompanied by nausea, abdominal bloating, belching, and sometimes vomiting. Some people also use the term indigestion to describe the symptom of heartburn .

Indigestion might be caused by a disease in the digestive tract such as ulcer or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), but for many people, it results from eating too much, eating too quickly, eating high-fat foods, or eating during stressful situations. Smoking, drinking too much alcohol, using medications that irritate the stomach lining, being tired, and having ongoing stress can also cause indigestion or make it worse.

Because indigestion can be a sign of, or mimic, a more serious disease, people should see a health care provider if they have

  • vomiting, weight loss, or appetite loss
  • black tarry stools or blood in vomit
  • severe pain in the upper right abdomen
  • discomfort unrelated to eating
  • indigestion accompanied by shortness of breath, sweating, or pain radiating to the jaw, neck, or arm
  • symptoms that persist for more than 2 weeks

Indigestion Link

An ulcer is an actual lesion in the inner lining of the stomach or of the duodenum, the part of the intestine just below the stomach. When doctors refer to a peptic ulcer, they are talking about ulcers of the stomach and the duodenum. Stomach ulcers are also called gastric ulcers. These lesions usually destroy the protective inner layer of either the stomach or duodenum, reaching down to the middle layer, and exposing underlying tissues to stomach acid. However, ulcers can extend all the way through the stomach.

Peptic ulcers are common: one in every 10 Americans develops an ulcer at some time in his or her life, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse . Ulcer sufferers may experience stomach pain that is initially relieved by eating, then is worse afterward, or is worse just before eating. Other symptoms include nausea with eating and pain that is localized in the top of the abdomen. Two major causes of peptic ulcer are: 1) long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents, such as aspirin and ibuprofen; 2) bacterial infection, mainly Helicobacter pylori.

Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) causes almost all peptic ulcers, accounting for 80 percent of stomach ulcers and more than 90 percent of duodenal ulcers. H. pylori infection is common in the United States, but most infected people, do not develop ulcers.

If an ulcer is found, the doctor will test the patient for H. pylori. This test is important because treatment for an ulcer caused by H. pylori is different from that for an ulcer caused by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents. H. pylori peptic ulcers are treated with drugs to kill the bacteria, to reduce stomach acid, and to protect the stomach lining. H. pylori and Peptic Ulcer Link

For more information, please contact Student Health Services.

Resource Links:

  • Medlineplus Health Information. ( )
  • National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. ( )
  • IBS Group ( )



UND Student Health Services
McCannel Hall, Room 100
Box 9038
Grand Forks, ND 58202
Tel: 701.777.4500