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13.41: Digestive System Diseases

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What's worse than an upset stomach?

You've probably had an upset stomach. Most likely it was due to something you ate. But imagine bleeding from your stomach. That's a little different than your stomach just being upset. Stomach ulcers can be very serious.

Diseases of the Digestive System

Many diseases can affect the digestive system. Three of the most common diseases that affect the digestive system are food allergies, ulcers, and heartburn.

  • Food allergies occur when the immune system reacts to substances in food as though they were harmful “foreign invaders.” Foods that are most likely to cause allergies are pictured in Figure below . Symptoms of food allergies often include vomiting and diarrhea.

Common allergic foods: milk, shellfish, grains, egg, nuts

These foods are the most common causes of food allergies.

  • Ulcers are sores in the lining of the stomach or duodenum that are usually caused by bacterial infections. They may also be caused by the acidic environment of the stomach. Stomach acids may damage the lining of the stomach. Symptoms typically include abdominal pain and bleeding. You can see how stomach ulcers develop at this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4bXZRgJ-1fk .
  • Heartburn is a painful burning sensation in the chest caused by stomach acid backing up into the esophagus. The stomach acid may eventually cause serious damage to the esophagus unless the problem is corrected.


  • Digestive system diseases include food allergies, ulcers, and heartburn.

Explore More

Use this resource to answer the questions that follow.

  1. Describe the following digestive diseases:
    1. Crohn's Disease
    2. gallstones
    3. GERD
    4. hepatitis
    5. ulcers


  1. Describe two diseases of the digestive system.
  2. List three foods that cause common food allergies.

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Difficulty Level:

At Grade


Date Created:

Feb 24, 2012

Last Modified:

Sep 15, 2014
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