How Does the Stomach Work?

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  • The stomach is part of the alimentary canal. It is filled with fluids, membranes and enzymes. The stomach works to break down food that will eventually enter into a person's blood stream. Saliva from the mouth starts a series of processes that will later take place in the stomach. The stomach uses enzymes to convert food particles into vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that the body needs to function.

Esophagus

  • Food goes through a person's throat and esophagus to deliver food into the stomach, which is essentially a bag full of gastric fluid. The esophagus is a small tube that runs through a person's diaphragm and into the stomach. This region prevents the highly acidic stomach "juices" from flowing backward. People who have damage to this portion of the esophagus often suffer from acid reflux. Symptoms can include a severe burning sensation in both the chest and stomach that can be painful.

Stomach

  • Stomach acids are produced by hormones in the body. They help to dissolve larger food masses into smaller particles. These particles will eventually be broken down even further. After the stomach first pushes chewed food, saliva and gastric juices around like a blender, it becomes a substance known as chyme. The chyme is what travels through the stomach to the duodenum. The duodenum and the pyloric opening are the parts of the stomach that join the stomach sac and intestines together. You need to have the esophagus, stomach and duodenum all working together properly to receive nutrients into the bloodstream. The "lesser omentum," is the portion of interior anatomy that holds both the liver and stomach together. It is very difficult to just damage one, and not the other.

Diseases and Damage

  • When the stomach is either diseased or damaged, many different problems can result. In some circumstances, damaged blood vessels and tissue can cause extra blood to flow into the stomach. The excess blood then gets sent in places where it is not intended to go. Subsequent bleeding from damaged digestive tract could cause feces to enter the stomach, liver and kidneys. If the kidneys and stomach are overloaded with foreign or bacteria-filled matter, other parts of the body are poisoned. Symptoms from most digestive or stomach diseases include cramps, nausea, vomiting and even muscle paralysis.

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