What is a functional disorder?

Gastrointestinal problems are common in many EDS sufferers, here are some examples of what a functional disorder is :

Functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorders refer to a wide variety of digestive disorders. A functional disorder refers to a disorder or disease where the primary abnormality is an alteration in the way the body works (altered physiological function), rather than an identifiable structural or biochemical cause.
A functional GI disorder generally can not be diagnosed in a traditional way; that is, as an inflammatory, infectious, or structural abnormality that can be seen by commonly used examination, x-ray, or blood test. Functional disorders are characterized by symptoms.
The disorders may be characterized by symptoms such as:
  • pain
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • problems in the passage of food or feces
  • any combination of these symptoms

Motility Disorders

Gastrointestinal motility is defined by the movements of the digestive system, and the transit of the contents within it. When nerves or muscles in any portion of the digestive tract do not function in a strong coordinated fashion, a person develops symptoms related to motility problems. These symptoms may include:
  • heartburn
  • difficulty swallowing
  • abdominal distention and pain
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • a combination of these symptoms
GI motility can be measured and abnormal patterns identified using tests. For each area of the GI tract, there are different GI motility tests that assess different functions and provide different types of information to help with diagnosis and treatment. 

Examples of functional GI and/or motility disorders include:

  • Chronic abdominal pain
  • Constipation 
  • Cyclic vomiting syndrome
  • Diarrhea
  • Dyspepsia
  • Encopresis (fecal soiling)
  • Functional fecal retention
  • Gastroesophageal reflux (GER)
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) 
  • Gastroparesis
  • Hirschsprung’s disease
  • Incontinence
  • Intestinal pseudo-obstruction
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

1 comment:

  1. I am grateful to you for telling your story of GI issues and EDS. I have a lot of respect and admiration for someone who takes a problem and uses it to help others. It takes a special person to do this.
    I too have gastroparesis related to EDS amongst other things such as dysautonomia. Your experience is touching and shows the real human experience behind the diagnosis, misdiagnosis, the hospitals, testing and "ologist" as I call them. WHen we feel bad all of the time we can begin to feel that it defines us.
    Talking and sharing with others in the same situation is a great way to learn and grow.
    My experience has been a life long struggle and a lifetime of misdiagnosis until I was 41.
    I know you must have had the same experience.
    I hope you are doing well.
    I have many challenges right now and the worst has been serotonin poisoning otherwise known as serotonin syndrom and now subsiquent cymbalta withdrawal. Many of us are placed on multiple medications which in and of themselves become a disease. My medications cymbalta and lamictal both interacted making me deathly sick and I almost died from it.
    This futher strained an already challenged autonimic nervous system making my bowels more a problem. I find now I go through a cycle of constipation, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, impaction and bloating. This is constant.
    I am open to any suggestions or insites. Blessings to you


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