Last updated on Jun 23rd, 2021 at 02:44 pm

Functional gastrointestinal disorders, or FGIDs, are more common than you think. Here’s why paying attention to your gut could improve your quality of life…

You might not have heard of FGIDs before, but if you’ve ever had to deal with a colicky baby or a constipated child, or just your own feelings of bloating, indigestion and general tummy issues, then you’ve probably encountered an FGID.

What exactly are FGIDs?

FGID stands for: functional gastrointestinal disorder – which is quite a mouthful! They are a category of disorders that affect your whole gastrointestinal tract, which is made up of the parts of your body through which food moves, including your stomach and intestines. Having an FGID means that there’s something wrong with how your GI tract works, but it isn’t caused by any underlying structural or biochemical cause, like a tumour or hormone imbalance. This can make FGIDs difficult to diagnose.

Because FGIDs can affect so many parts of your body, there are a lot of different FGIDs out there (in fact, more than 20 have been identified!), but some of the most common are:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome – characterised by abdominal pain and diarrhoea or constipation
  • Functional dyspepsia – a fancy term for bloating, indigestion, heartburn or upper abdominal pain
  • Functional abdominal pain – often experienced by children, this is pain that can’t be explained by anything doctors can see
  • Functional constipation – a problem for both kids and adults!
  • Gas and flatulence – this needs no explanation, but it can be caused or aggravated by constipation
  • Infant colic and regurgitation – colic is one of the most common FGIDs that we experience in the first six months of life [1]

Basically, if it involves discomfort in your stomach or intestines, depending on the severity of your symptoms, it might be an FGID.

Who is affected by FGIDs?

Unfortunately, FGIDs can and do affect almost anyone, but research shows that early learning difficulties or emotionally challenging interactions in childhood may predispose you to developing FGIDs.[2] Diet, stress levels and your microbiome (the communities of bacteria that live mostly in your gut) can also play a role in FGIDs.

When it comes to babies, colic is the cause of up to 20% of all paediatrician visits in the first four months,[3] and 50% of 3 to 4-month-old babies experience daily regurgitation (aka vomiting, probably on the nearest adult). In fact, research shows that around R1,3 billion is spent in England alone treating FGIDs in infants every year![4]

Worldwide, up to 30% of children experience constipation[5] and 25% of adults have chronic constipation,[6] with women more at risk than men.[7] Chronic constipation and diarrhoea can have a severe impact on quality of life.

So, what should you do about an FGID?

It’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible if you have health concerns about yourself or anyone in your family. Your health professional will be able to rule out any other conditions and guide you to the best treatment options.

Depending on your symptoms, your doctor might recommend probiotic treatment, as probiotics can help reduce the symptoms of FGIDs and improve your quality of life. Reuterina™ specifically is clinically proven to reduce FGIDs in infants, toddlers, teens and adults.[8]

Studies show that Reuterina™ decreases crying time in colicky infants by up to 50%,[9] improves constipation in infants and adults[10] and reduces the number[11] and intensity[12] of pain episodes in children suffering from functional abdominal pain.

Look for Reuterina at Clicks, Dis-Chem and all major pharmacies across South Africa; just ask for the probiotic range that more doctors recommend![13]

To find out more about Reuterina™ and FGIDs, visit


  • [1] Indrio F., et al. Prophylactic use of a probiotic in the prevention of colic, regurgitation, and functional constipation. A randomised clinical trial. JAMA Pediatr 2014;168:228-233.
  • [2] Drossman D.A. Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders: History, Pathophysiology, Clinical Features, and Rome IV. Gastroenterology 2016;150:1262–1279.
  • [3] Savino F., et al. Crying time and RORy/FOXP3 expression in Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938-treated infants with colic: A randomised trial. J Pediatr 2018;192:171-177.
  • [4]
  • [5] Rajindrajith S., Devanarayana N.M. Constipation in children: novel insight into epidemiology, pathophysiology and management. J Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2011;17(1):35–47. doi:10.5056/jnm.2011.17.1.35
  • [6] Ojetti V., laniro G., Tortora A., et al. Effect of Lactobacillus reuteri. supplementation in adults with chronic functional constipation: a randomised double-blind. placebo-controlled trial. J Gastrointestin Liver Dis 2014;23:387-391.
  • [7] Sonnenberg A. & Koch, T.R. Dis Colon Rectum (1989) 32:1.
  • [8] Reuterina™ Daily Approved Package Insert, July 2010.
  • [9] Szajewska H., et al. Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938 for the management of infantile colic in breastfed infants: A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. J Pediatr 2013;162:257-262.
  • [10] Ojetti V., Petruzziello C., Migneco A., et al. Effect of Lactobacillus reuteri (DSM 17938) on methane production in patients affected by functional constipation a retrospective study. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci 2017;21:1702-1708.
  • [11] Weizman Z., et al. Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938 for the management of functional abdominal pain in childhood: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. J Pediatr 2016;174:160-164.
  • [12] Romano C., et al. Lactobacillus reuteri in children with functional abdominal pain (FAP). J Paediatr Child Health 2014;50(10): E68-E71.
  • [13] ImpactRx Data: Data on file.

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.