The Differences Between Functional and Structural Gastrointestinal Disorders

If you are experiencing alarming or discomforting issues associated with your digestion, it’s possible that you could be suffering from a gastrointestinal (GI) disorder. Most of the time, a gastrointestinal disorder is nothing to be alarmed about. Many functional gastrointestinal disorders have obvious causes and easy fixes. However, there are structural disorders that could lead to complications if left untreated. In those situations, gastrointestinal surgery in Tampa is a viable and minimally invasive option. Here are the differences between functional and structural gastrointestinal disorders. 

Related: 4 Early Indicators of Gastrointestinal Disease

Living With Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders 

Although functional gastrointestinal disorders can severely affect a person’s life, there is no underlying physical cause. Functional gastrointestinal disorders are characterized by their persistent and sometimes embarrassing symptoms. Irritable bowel syndrome and constipation are two common functional gastrointestinal disorders. Common symptoms of functional gastrointestinal disorders include: 

  • Abdominal pain
  • Cramps
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Incontinence

Unlike structural gastrointestinal disorders, functional gastrointestinal disorders can often be treated with lifestyle changes. For example, constipation can be treated with exercise and a diet high in fiber. Living with a functional gastrointestinal disorder is incredibly common. In fact, approximately 11 percent of Americans suffer from a chronic digestive disease — as many as 35 percent for those 65 and older. But even if you believe your gastrointestinal disorder is harmless, it’s important to be screened by a GI surgeon in Tampa to ensure that you aren’t suffering from a structural gastrointestinal disorder or something more serious. 

Related: Exploring the Benefits of Gastrointestinal Robotics Surgery

Treating Structural Gastrointestinal Disorders 

As we’ve discussed previously, structural gastrointestinal disorders involve an abnormality in the gastrointestinal tract, often in the colon and rectum. This is in contrast to functional gastrointestinal disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome. Structural gastrointestinal disorders that can be diagnosed and treated by a gastrointestinal surgeon in Tampa are: 

  • Hemorrhoids
  • Perianal infections
  • Fistulas
  • Diverticulitis
  • Colitis
  • Colon polyps 
  • Colorectal cancer 

It can be scary thinking that there might be something physically wrong with our digestive system. But it’s important to remember that, because there is a physical abnormality, the problem can be discovered and remedied. This begins by seeing a GI surgeon in Tampa who can diagnose your condition. 

A surgeon can perform a number of tests to diagnose your condition, including a physical examination, blood and urine tests, and colonoscopy. If discovered, a structural gastrointestinal disorder can be treated with minimally invasive, robotic-assisted surgery. If you are suffering from a structural gastrointestinal disorder or are experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms, schedule an appointment with Dr. Whalen Clark. There is a solution to your problem, and the best gastrointestinal surgeon in Tampa can help you find it. 

To learn more about gastrointestinal surgery in Tampa, or to schedule a consultation with Whalen Clark, M.D., a gastrointestinal surgeon in Tampa, please request an appointment today.

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