Functional gastrointestinal disorders also known as FGIDs are characterized by a malfunctioning gastrointestinal tract that otherwise looks normal. There are no external causes found or detected in the GI tract of a patient with FGID such as tumors, obstructions, or a chemical imbalance. Although there is a lack of visible and detectable cause for the disorder, the pain and symptoms are all too real.

This can make the FGID diagnosis more complicated because they cannot be identified using traditional testing and scans. Despite the lack of diagnostic tools, doctors and the medical world have learned to identify the different types of functional gastrointestinal disorders via the symptoms alone. Here are some of the most common types of FGIDs and the symptoms associated with them:

  1. Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS – IBS is one of the most common types of FGIDs that is commonly misdiagnosed by physicians. Patients with chronic IBS tend to suffer from frequent abdominal pain and a sudden change in normal bowel habits. The bowel movement of some with FGIDs can range from diarrhea to constipation in a very short span of time.
  2. Functional Abdominal Bloating –This type of FGID affects the bowels and is accompanied by an abnormal abdominal fullness feeling despite not eating anything and constant bloating. While there is no pain associated with functional abdominal bloating it can become very uncomfortable as time passes especially when the feeling of bloat never passes.
  3. Functional Constipation – Constipation is a fairly common bowel problem for many people. However, after the addition of fiber and water to their diet, the problem usually goes away on its own. Patients who suffer from functional constipation, on the other hand, find that they experience constipation regularly.

Symptoms such as difficulty and infrequent bowel movements and incomplete defecation are just some that a patient with functional constipation will experience frequently.

  1. Fecal Incontinence –A very serious and sometimes also embarrassing type of FGID is fecal incontinence. Those with this form of FGID cannot control their bowel movements and can accidentally defecate anytime and anywhere. This can lead to a lot of emotional trauma for the patient. The major sign that a person’s fecal incontinence is an FGID is the lack of any neurological or structural complication that usually leads to fecal incontinence.
  2. Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome –Recurring episodes of nausea that leads to vomiting that can last for hours is characteristic of a cyclic vomiting syndrome. The episodes can last anywhere from a few hours up to several days. Some patients find that there are weeks or months of symptom-free intervals, but the episodes of nausea and vomiting always return.

Other Types Of FGIDs

Doctors and medical practitioners have been able to identify more than 20 different types of FGIDs. Some of the disorders such as Infant Rumination Syndrome which is classified with regurgitation of stomach contents is more common in infants than adults but is still considered rare. While other disorders such as functional diarrhea are more commonly seen in adults.

The best way to get a proper diagnosis and possible treatment plan is to explain all of your symptoms as accurately as possible. The more details you can provide, the better.

Functional gastrointestinal disorders or FGIDs are disorders affecting the function of the gastrointestinal tract. Millions of people across the world struggle with FGIDs.

By Skyler West

Piper Skyler West: Piper, a sports medicine expert, shares advice on injury prevention, athletic performance, and sports health tips.