• Shruti GOCHHWAL

Digestive Diseases: Facts, Stats, And Trends In India

The digestive system is known as the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. It begins at the mouth and ends at the anus. In between, it includes the oesophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and the rectum.

Digestive disorders result from various factors like food, comorbidities, medicines, infections and many more. Many symptoms of GI tract can signal problems associated with it, like blood in the stool, pain in the abdomen, heartburn, bloating, constipation, urinary incontinence, nausea, and vomiting. Digestive issues can cause deterioration of health and impact individuals quality of life adversely. It can even be fatal at times.

Digestive disease

Man suffering from Digestive issue, Image Credits: pixabay


Some Interesting Facts About the Digestive system

  1. Our body produces around 0.5 and 1.5 litres of saliva.

  2. The food ingested by the mouth is taken down to your stomach through peristalsis movement.

  3. The digestive system is connected to the brain by a gut-brain axis which also affects our digestion.

  4. Saliva production increases when you feel like vomiting to protect your teeth from stomach acid.

  5. You burp to release extra air which you swallow during eating.

Some Risk Factors That Lead To Digestive Diseases

  1. Unhealthy food habits – irregular diet patterns and negligence of proper nutritious food, imbalance in the micro and macronutrients in the body can lead to various digestive disorders and diseases.

  2. Lifestyle changes: Bad lifestyle habits like alcohol consumption, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, use of tobacco can lead to severity of diseases including digestive problems and it also affects immunity.

  3. Lack of physical exercise-  Living a sedentary lifestyle can give rise to digestive diseases like functional dyspepsia, constipation, IBS, and GERD.

  4. Sanitation and limited access to clean water – People in India who live in rural areas lack access to clean water, which makes them prone to digestive diseases and water-borne infections.

  5. Medicines and certain foods: Research has shown that people who regularly use medications like NSAID’s, pain killers, nitrates, antibiotics, calcium channel blockers are known to suffer from digestive disorders like GERD, constipation or diarrhoea. Foods that are rich in gluten, other foods like chocolate, fatty foods,  and coffee can also cause digestive disorder

Statistics of Digestive Diseases in India

  1. The studies have shown that the disability-adjusted life years (DALY) burden in India due to communicable, maternal, neonatal, and nutritional diseases, has come down from 60.9% in 1990 to 32.7% in 2016. However, the data also represented that DALYs for non-communicable diseases increased from 30.5% to 55.4% during the same period.

  2. In 2016, it was reported that Infectious causes for digestive disorders accounted for around 63.3% of deaths which resulted from GI and liver disorders contributed from diarrheal diseases.

  3. The statistics for disability-adjusted life years (DALY) for GI and liver disorders in 2016 accounted for 60.3% of total DALYs. This was due to infectious agents.

  4. A study conducted by Abbott India in 2018 suggested that 22% of the adult Indian population is suffering from constipation, out of which 13% was suffering from severe constipation. Whereas, the rest 6% suffered constipation associated with certain comorbidities.

Trends in Digestive Diseases

  1. Over the past two decades, the burden of gastrointestinal diseases has observed prominent changes. These include reductions in peptic ulcer disease (PUD), caused by Helicobacter pylori, hernias, appendicitis, and stomach and oesophagal cancer.

  2. Whereas, the prevalence and mortality rates for diseases like pancreatitis, paralytic ileus and intestinal obstruction, liver cancer, gallbladder and biliary tract cancer, non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases, colorectal cancer, vascular intestinal disorders, and inflammatory bowel disease has increased.

  3. Incidence rates of gastric cancer are falling more rapidly at about 2-4% decline for females than males universally. This is due to the adaptation of an improved standard of living, like dietary habits.

  4. Even though the incidence rates for ileocolonic inflammation and malabsorption is observing a decreasing trend, the need for more extensive workup is still required.

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