Common Causes of Gastrointestinal Conditions

A woman suffering from gastrointestinal issues

There are many possible underlying causes of gastrointestinal conditions, and while the best way to get a proper diagnosis is to visit a specialist, it’s also a good idea to be aware of what can lead to problems with your gastrointestinal health. Causes of gastrointestinal conditions can range from lifestyle choices, such as activity level or diet, to predisposed genetic conditions. If you suspect that any of the following causes are contributing to problems with your digestive system, please feel free to contact Birmingham Gastroenterology so we can help form an appropriate treatment plan.


Genetic factors are an example of one of the unavoidable causes of gastrointestinal conditions. When it comes to disorders such as cystic fibrosis or hereditary pancreatitis, the genetic factor can lead directly to the development of the disorder. In other cases concerning many immune and autoimmune disorders, however, it’s a different story. When these disorders tend to be hereditary, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re destined to develop the disease. Genetics definitely play a role in creating a predisposition for conditions such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, and ulcerative colitis, but there are other lifestyle factors that can help keep these conditions at bay.


Not getting enough water on a regular basis can lead to multiple problems within the body, including your digestive system. Drinking water helps to cleanse the entire gastrointestinal tract, and can help with common gastrointestinal symptoms such as constipation. Water consumption also helps to break down food to allow the GI tract to absorb nutrients more efficiently. While staying hydrated is key to overall wellness, it becomes even more important when facing GI problems. Many symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea can lead to dehydration, so make sure you’re making a conscious effort to keep your body hydrated.

Low Fiber Diet

While fiber cannot be digested, it plays a key role in overall digestive health. Fiber offers numerous benefits for the body, including the promotion of beneficial bacteria in your gut and the aid in digestion of certain foods. It also helps keep you feeling full after a meal. A low fiber diet can be the cause of many different digestive problems such as constipation, hemorrhoids, diverticulitis, and more.

Consuming Lots of Dairy

While fiber is beneficial for gastrointestinal health, dairy oftentimes has the opposite effect. Due to the high fat and protein content of many dairy products, it can be difficult to digest and may lead to inflammation of the digestive system. Foods high in fat, and dairy products should especially be avoided when it comes to conditions like Crohn’s disease and IBS.


Stress affects our body in many different ways, so it’s no surprise that many people experience gastrointestinal problems as a result of stress and anxiety. Studies have shown a correlation between stress and a lower number of beneficial gut microbiota, which can ultimately contribute to the development of IBS. Those with high levels of stress may also experience other problems like appetite loss, cramping, and inflammation.

Inactive Lifestyle

When you live an active lifestyle, you promote activity and movement within the body to maintain normal bodily functions and to help clear out toxins. If you’re inactive or have a sedentary lifestyle, you may be at risk of increased gastrointestinal symptoms such as stomach pain, diarrhea and constipation.


Unfortunately, aging is another unavoidable factor that may play a role in causing gastrointestinal conditions. As we age, digestive glands naturally decrease in activity which can lead to problems with gut motility, reflux and digestion. The risk of developing certain gastrointestinal-related cancers also increases with age. Fortunately, you can help prevent age-related gastrointestinal conditions by maintaining an active, healthy lifestyle.

Contact Birmingham Gastroenterology 

A gastroenterologist is best equipped to diagnose the underlying cause of any possible gastrointestinal condition. If you are having trouble with your digestive health, Birmingham Gastroenterology can help. We have decades of experience treating diseases and disorders in all parts of the digestive system. To make an appointment to discuss your symptoms and treatment options, call us at (205) 271-8000.

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