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The gut can be affected by many conditions and we want to introduce you to the idea of an ‘organic’ versus a ‘functional’ disorder. This is important to understanding your gut and your gut condition if you have one.
What is an Organic condition?
An organic condition or disorder is the term used by clinicians to describe any medical condition (affecting any part of the body) where observable and measurable abnormalities can be detected. In other words, the results of some tests will show up this condition if you have it. Examples of organic conditions that affect the gut are Coeliac Disease, Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis, together known as Inflammatory Bowel disease (IBD), Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD/GERD) or even gallstones.
Fortunately, huge strides have been made in treatment and management of many of these conditions. If you have a condition such as IBD you should be under the care of a gastroenterologist and there are a wealth of excellent resources available – check out Guts UK, the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation or the Irish Society for Colitis and Crohn’s Disease. You can find links to these organisations in our Useful Links section.
What is a functional condition?
A functional condition is one that causes symptoms of illness, lack of wellbeing and very often significantly reduced quality of life, but where there are no clear tests by which to make a diagnosis. In other words, all the standard tests are normal. These conditions can be very frustrating for the people who suffer from them, as there is generally no quick ‘cure’ and because tests are ‘normal’ people worry that something may have been missed.
People who suffer with these conditions often feel that doctors (and family and friends) do not understand the extent to which the symptoms are affecting them and their life. This negativity can lead to a sense of shame and stigma.
These conditions are now considered disorders of Gut-Brain Interaction (DGBIs), formerly known as Functional GI Disorders (FGIDs). The most common DGBIs are Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Functional Dyspepsia (FD).
The Rome Foundation are the criteria used by doctors for diagnosing DGBIs such as IBS and FD.
If you have been diagnosed with a DGBI such as IBS or FD, we hope that our website will be a valuable resource to help you understand your condition and restore your gut health and wellbeing.