“The digestive system can be affected by a wide diversity of acute and chronic diseases or conditions that, collectively, place a substantial burden on the U.S. healthcare system. At least 60-70 million Americans are affected each year by digestive diseases at a cost that exceeds $100 billion in direct medical expenses. Annually, about 10 percent of hospitalizations and 15 percent of in-patient hospital procedures are attributed to the treatment of digestive diseases. An additional 105 million visits to doctors’ offices related to digestive diseases occur each year. These diseases are associated with significant mortality, morbidity, and loss of quality of life, and they frequently impact patients’ ability to work or engage in everyday activities. More than $44 billion in indirect costs from disability and mortality are associated with digestive diseases each year. Digestive diseases in general can affect individuals of any age, race or ethnicity, gender, or socioeconomic status, although some diseases disproportionately affect certain populations. All of these factors provide opportunities and challenges for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as it develops and supports research programs aimed, ultimately, at reducing the significant public health burden of digestive diseases.”

The number of diagnoses based on ICD-9 codes that were made by leading physicians in 2009 for Gastrointestinal Disorders in Outpatient Clinic Visits in the United States are as follows:
1 GERD† 8,863,568
2 Abdominal pain 7,170,332
3 Gastroenteritis and dyspepsia 4,007,198
4 Constipation 3,980,438
5 Abdominal wall hernia 3,559,932
6 Diverticular disease 2,682,168
7 Diarrhea 2,402,350
8 Inflammatory bowel disease 1,893,799
9 Colorectal neoplasm 1,744,089
10 Nausea and vomiting 1,678,515
11 Rectal bleeding 1,667,653
12 Irritable colon 1,550,072
13 Hepatitis C infection 1,230,420
14 Hemorrhoids 1,071,430
15 Dysphagia 1,020,743
16 Appendicitis 663,930
17 Cirrhosis of liver 635,463
18 Barrett s esophagus 440,605
19 Hepatitis, unspecified 379,062
20 Gallstone disease 303,606

To read the full — and quite frankly, fascinating — report, click anywhere within the above excerpt.