How does peristalsis help the body digest food?

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When certain muscles in the digestive tract and urinary tract contract, it is called peristalsis. Peristalsis is a special type of wave-shaped muscle contraction because its purpose is to move solids or liquids along the tubular structures of the digestive and urinary tracts. Peristalsis is not a voluntary movement of the muscles, so people cannot consciously control it. Rather, the smooth muscles involved in peristalsis function when stimulated to do so.

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Peristalsis is important for digestion, but sometimes it doesn't work the way it should. Constant diarrhea or constipation can be a sign that something has gone wrong with your peristalsis. It can be caused by medications, but it can also be caused by a condition called motor impairment. Motility disorders can be difficult to treat, so it is important to consult a digestion specialist, a gastroenterologist, to find a solution.

Peristalsis of the digestive tract.

Peristalsis of the digestive tract begins in the esophagus. After swallowing, food moves along the esophagus through peristalsis. The muscles of the stomach, small and large intestine continue this process. Food is further digested and broken down as it travels through the digestive tract, with the help of digestive juices added along the way. Bile, which is an important part of the digestive process, is produced in the gallbladder and travels from the gallbladder to the duodenum (part of the small intestine) through peristalsis. At the end of its journey through the body through peristalsis, the digested food is excreted through the anus in the form of a chair.

Peristalsis of the urinary tract.

Urine also travels through the body through peristalsis. Two tubes in the urinary tract, called ureters, use peristalsis to move fluid from the kidneys to the bladder. This fluid then leaves the body through the urethra as urine.

Peristalsis and motor disorders

If peristalsis does not occur correctly, it can lead to one of a group of conditions called motor disorders. In some people, peristalsis can be too fast, which is called increased mobility, or too slow, which is called reduced mobility. Motility disorders can occur for a variety of reasons, including a side effect of a medication, the result of another disease process, or even an unknown cause (called idiopathic). People with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can also have motility disorders, but it is currently unknown how these conditions may be related or how often they can occur together .

Some examples of motor disorders include:

  • Dysphagia Dysphagia disrupts the peristalsis of the esophagus, and people with the condition find it difficult or impossible to swallow food and liquids .
  • Esophageal spasms There are several different forms of the disease that can cause muscle spasms in the esophagus. The spasms can be intermittent and / or violent and can lead to regurgitation of food.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) . GERD may also have a link to motor impairment, but this link is still being studied .
  • Gastroparesis . In this condition, the stomach muscles do not move food into the small intestine. This can lead to nausea and vomiting. There are many possible causes, but in some cases the cause is unknown.
  • Pseudo-intestinal obstruction . Blockage occurs when something blocks the movement of food through the intestines, such as a narrow intestine or difficult stools. However, with pseudo-obstruction, there is no blockage, but the digestive system is disturbed, as if there is a mechanical blockage. This is a rare condition.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) . People with IBS may also have consistently increased or decreased mobility, or both. Symptoms can include diarrhea or constipation. It is not entirely clear how motility fits into the diagnosis and treatment of IBS, but more research is being done.

Frequently asked questions

  • Peristalsis begins in the pharynx (pharynx) when food is swallowed. Helps move food through the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

  • Reverse peristalsis is the process of vomiting. When the contents of the stomach move backwards, it is pushed by the same muscles responsible for peristalsis. It begins in the small intestine and travels to the stomach.

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