Acid Reflux Disease What is Acid Reflux Disease or Gastroesphageal Reflux Disease (GERD)?GERD is a condition in which the esophagus becomes irritated or inflamed by stomach contents like acid. The acid backs up in the esophagus and causes reflux. The reflux
Center of Exellence Barrett’s Esophagus Institute AT FLORIDA DIGESTIVE HEALTH SPECIALISTS Am I at risk for esophageal cancer? One type of esophageal cancer, adenocarcinoma of the esophagus, can occur in people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This is intestinal type
Biliary Cancer What is Biliary Cancer?There are two primary types of Biliary (Hepatobiliary) Cancer Hepatocellular Carcinoma Cholangiocarcinoma What is Biliary Cancer: Hepatocellular Carcinoma?Cancer that develops in the liver. What is Biliary Cancer: Cholangiocarcinoma?Cancer that develops within the liver’s biliary ducts.
Celiac Disease What is celiac disease?Celiac disease is an allergic reaction that damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing parts of food that are important for staying healthy. The damage is caused by a reaction
Cirrhosis What is cirrhosis? Cirrhosis is irreversible deterioration of liver function. With an unhealthy liver, the normal cells are replaced by scar tissue which can block the flow of blood through the liver impairing the liver functions necessary for survival
Colon Polyps What are colon polyps?A colon polyp is a growth on the inside surface of the colon (the large intestine). Some colon polyps are benign (non-cancerous), and some types may already be potentially precancerous, precancerous or frankly cancerous. What are the
Colorectal Cancer What is colorectal cancer?Colorectal cancer is a cancer that develops anywhere in the large intestine. The majority of colorectal cancers begin as benign polyps inside the colon or rectum. Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death
Constipation What is constipation?Constipation occurs when bowel movements become difficult or less frequent. The normal length of time between bowel movements varies for each person but going longer than three days without a bowel movement is too long. Signs of
Crohn’s Disease What is Crohn’s disease?Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that usually affects the intestines, but may occur anywhere from the mouth to the anus. What causes Crohn’s disease?While the exact cause of Crohn’s disease is unknown, the
Diarrhea What is diarrhea?Diarrhea is loose, watery stools that pass three or more times a day. Acute diarrhea lasts 1 or 2 days and goes away on its own but diarrhea lasting more than 2 days may be a sign
Diverticulitis What are diverticulosis and diverticulitis? Many people have small pouches in their colon that bulge outward through weak spots in the colon wall. Each pouch is called a diverticulum. Multiple pouches are called diverticula. Diverticulitis occurs when the pouches
Fatty Liver Disease What is fatty liver disease?Fatty liver disease (FLD) is a certain kind of fat, specifically triglyceride, accumulates in the liver cells through a process called steatosis. Steatosis is the abnormal retention of lipids within a cell. There
Fecal Incontinence What is fecal incontinence (FI)? Fecal incontinence is the inability to hold a bowel movement until reaching a bathroom or accidental leakage while passing gas. Although patients often understandably feel afraid or embarrassed to talk with their physicians
Gallstones What are gallstones? Gallstones typically form within the gallbladder though some stones can form within other areas of the biliary tract. Gallstones are lumps of hardened, concentrated bile that contain cholesterol, bile pigments bile salts, calcium salts and/or excretory
Symptoms Causes Treatment Types Prevention Outlook Summary FAQs About Gastritis Gastritis is a common but often misinterpreted gastrointestinal ailment that involves inflammation of the stomach lining, resulting in discomfort and a range of symptoms. This condition can manifest because of
Gastroparesis What is gastroparesis? Gastroparesis, also called delayed gastric emptying, is a disorder that slows or stops the movement of food from the stomach to the small intestine. Normally, the muscles of the stomach, which are controlled by the vagus
Heartburn What is heartburn?Heartburn is an uncomfortable feeling of burning or warmth in the chest caused by too much stomach acid. What is stomach acid?The stomach produces stomach acid to help protect us against bacteria parasites. It aids in helping with the absorption
Helicobacter Pylori What is Helicobacter pylori?Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) are a type of bacteria that infects the inner lining of the stomach. The bacteria spread from eating contaminated water or food. Overcrowding can also help the spread of bacteria. It
Hemorrhoids About | Symptoms | Causes | Types | Treatment | Prevention | Outlook | Summary | FAQ About Hemorrhoid Hemorrhoids, also referred to as piles, are a common yet frequently misunderstood medical condition affecting the lower rectum and anus. Hemorrhoids occur when the veins in these areas become swollen and inflamed, leading to pain, discomfort
Hepatitis What is hepatitis? Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. Toxins, certain drugs, some diseases, heavy alcohol use and bacterial and viral infections can all cause hepatitis. The most common types are Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. What
Irritable Bowel Syndrome What is irritable bowel syndrome?Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a functional gastrointestinal disorder of the colon (large intestine) that causes abdominal pain, bloating, constipation and diarrhea. No structural or biochemical cause can be found to explain the
Lactose Intolerance What is lactose intolerance?If you are lactose intolerant your body is unable to digest lactose, the sugar in dairy products. What causes lactose intolerance?Lactose intolerance is caused by either a deficiency of lactase in the body. Lactase is
Liver Cancer What is Liver Cancer?Liver Cancer is the growth and spread of unhealthy cells in the liver. What causes Liver Cancer? Cirrhosis Long term hepatitis B and hepatitis C infection Obesity Diabetes What are the symptoms of Liver Cancer?Signs
Liver Disease What are some of the symptoms of liver disease? Typical signs of livers disease are fatigue, excessive tiredness, jaundice, dark urine or light colored stools. It is important to note that you can have liver disease with no
Pancreatic Diseases What is Pancreatitis?Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas.What are the two types of Pancreatitis? Acute Chronic What is Acute Pancreatitis?Acute Pancreatitis is a sudden attack causing inflammation of the pancreas and is usually associated with severe upper
Rectal Bleeding What is rectal bleeding?Rectal bleeding is blood from the rectum, which may appear on the stool, on the toilet paper or in the toilet bowl. Continuous passage of significantly greater amounts of blood from the rectum or stools
Ulcerative Colitis What is Ulcerative colitis?Ulcerative colitis affects the colon and the rectum, causing inflammation and ulcers in the lining of the large intestine. What causes Ulcerative colitis?The exact cause is unknown. Some think ulcerative colitis might be caused by
GERD is a condition in which the esophagus becomes irritated or inflamed by stomach contents like acid. The acid backs up in the esophagus and causes reflux. The reflux is the main symptom of heartburn.
The exact cause of GERD is unknown. Common factors that can make GERD worse:
Simple lifestyle modifications may be enough for mild symptoms. Also, nonprescription antacids such as Maalox, Mylanta, Tums or Rolaids may help. If lifestyle changes and antacids are not enough to relieve symptoms other treatments like acid blockers are usually needed. Since surgical solutions have limitations, they are usually reserved for special circumstances.
Your doctor may recommend a prescription to reduce acid production in the stomach like Prilosec, Prevacid, Aciphex, Protonix, Nexium, Zantac or Dexilant.
If prescription drugs are not relieving symptoms, or if you have serious complications, you may need surgery. This procedure, fundoplication, helps tighten the lower esophageal sphincter muscle by tying the stomach, which prevents acid from flowing back into the esophagus. However, studies show that many patients still require acid lowering medications and may develop new symptoms not noted prior to surgery.
“Barrett’s Esophagus is two to three times more likely to become cancerous than a pre-cancerous colon polyp that is not removed. Patients (and many physicians) often don’t realize the threat this disease presents.”
There are two primary types of Biliary (Hepatobiliary) Cancer
Cancer that develops in the liver.
Cancer that develops within the liver’s biliary ducts.
Patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis, ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory disease of the colon, or a history of gallstones have a higher risk of cholangiocarcinoma.
Celiac disease is an allergic reaction that damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing parts of food that are important for staying healthy. The damage is caused by a reaction to eating gluten. Gluten is found mainly in foods containing wheat, barley, rye and oats.
The exact cause of celiac disease is unknown. The lining of the intestines contains areas called villi, which help absorb nutrients. When people with celiac disease eat foods or use products that contain gluten, their immune system react by damaging these villi.
People with celiac disease are more likely to have:
Although symptoms can vary from person to person some common symptoms include:
A gluten-free diet is the way to treat celiac disease by avoiding foods, beverages, and medications that contain wheat, barley, rye and oats. Complete abstinence from gluten is necessary, permanently. A single exposure can affect the intestinal lining for three weeks.
Your doctor may prescribe vitamins to correct nutritional deficiencies. Also, corticosteroids (prednisone) may also be prescribed for short-term use, in severe cases. After being diagnosed with celiac disease getting help from a registered dietitian who specializes in celiac disease and the gluten-free diet is recommended.
Cirrhosis is irreversible deterioration of liver function. With an unhealthy liver, the normal cells are replaced by scar tissue which can block the flow of blood through the liver impairing the liver functions necessary for survival such as:
Cirrhosis is caused by a variety of factors, however the most common causes in the United States are heavy alcohol consumption, chronic hepatitis C and Obesity.
In the early stages of the disease there are no symptoms but as the disease progresses, these common symptoms occur:
The diagnosis of cirrhosis is usually based on a complete thorough evaluation done by a qualified physician. It is important to identify risk factors for cirrhosis, such as alcohol use, viral infection or obesity.
Depending on the cause of cirrhosis, treatment might help slow the progression of scar tissue in the liver and prevent or treat the complications of the disease.
If complications can’t be controlled by treatment, a liver transplant may be necessary. Liver transplantation is a major operation in which the diseased liver is removed and replaced with a healthy one from an organ donor.
Colitis is a non-specific term referring to inflammation of the lining of the large intestine (colon). The term was also previously used to mean irritable bowel syndrome.
A colon polyp is a growth on the inside surface of the colon (the large intestine). Some colon polyps are benign (non-cancerous), and some types may already be potentially precancerous, precancerous or frankly cancerous.
Anyone can get colon polyps, general risk factors include:
Colon polyps usually do not produce symptoms and are normally discovered during colonoscopy screening or while testing for blood in the stools. Symptoms are usually minimal including visible bleeding from the anus. Since the presence of symptoms such as a change in bowel habits indicates advanced disease or possible cancer, it is best to perform screening before symptoms occur.
In most cases, the doctor removes colon polyps during colonoscopy. The polyps are then tested for precancerous or precancerous changes or cancer and a repeat colonoscopy is done at an appropriate interval based on the number, types, size and locations of the polyps.
Colorectal cancer is a cancer that develops anywhere in the large intestine. The majority of colorectal cancers begin as benign polyps inside the colon or rectum.
Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. when men and women are combined, but it can often be prevented or detected early through a screening colonoscopy.
The exact cause of most colorectal cancers is unknown. Colon cancer develops due to changes in the colon lining. These changes may be inherited or develop as the result of mutations occurring during a person’s life, the causes of which are not fully understood. Common risk factors are family history of colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer, personal history of ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, high fat diet, obesity or smoking. However, some patients may have none of these risk factors, thus screening all individuals over age 45 years is important.
Screening can prevent colorectal cancer through the detection and removal of precancerous growths as well as detect cancer at an early stage, when treatment is usually less extensive and more successful.
When a polyp progresses to cancer, it can extend into the wall of the colon or rectum where it can invade blood or lymph vessels. Cancer cells typically spread first into nearby lymph nodes, which are crucial for helping our bodies fight infections. They can also be carried via blood vessels to other organs and tissues, such as the lungs, liver, lining the abdomen and other parts of the body. This spread of cancer to parts of the body far away from where the tumor started is called metastasis.
Your gastroenterologist will help determine which test is appropriate for you. Test options include:
Guidelines from the United States Preventive Services Task Force state that all average-risk people aged 45 and above should begin screening for colorectal cancer. This change is due to the alarming increases in colorectal cancer among a younger demographic. By 2030, researchers predict that colorectal cancer will be the leading cause of cancer deaths in people ages 20-49.
Fortunately, screening for colorectal cancer in average-risk individuals is credited as the largest single factor for decreasing rates of colorectal cancer.
If you’re at average risk, start talking to your gastroenterologist at age 45 about screening options. If you’re at high risk, you may need to get screened sooner.
Remember, 90 percent of all colorectal cancer cases and deaths are preventable by removing polyps and cancer can be successfully treated — and often cured — when detected early.
Constipation occurs when bowel movements become difficult or less frequent. The normal length of time between bowel movements varies for each person but going longer than three days without a bowel movement is too long. Signs of constipation are:
Constipation is usually caused by a bowel function disorder not a structural problem. Causes of constipation include:
Symptoms usually consist of infrequent bowel movements or difficulty having bowel movements, abdominal pain and vomiting.
If you have constipation for more than two weeks, you should see a doctor to determine the source of your problem and treat it. Tests include:
Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that usually affects the intestines, but may occur anywhere from the mouth to the anus.
While the exact cause of Crohn’s disease is unknown, the condition is linked to a problem with the body’s immune system response. With Crohn’s disease the immune system can’t tell the difference between normal body tissue and foreign substances. The result is an overactive immune response that leads to chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. Crohn’s disease may involve the small intestine, the large intestine, the rectum or the mouth. It rarely affects the esophagus and stomach. Immune effects may also act on the skin, eyes and liver.
Family history, smoking and environmental factors are attributed to developing Crohn’s disease. A person’s genes and environmental factors seem to play a role in the development of Crohn’s disease.
Usually during a physical examination abdominal pain, skin rash, swollen joints or mouth ulcers are revealed. Tests include:
Non-prescription medications may be used to help control mild symptoms such as, Loperamide (Imodium) to stop the diarrhea, fiber supplements or laxatives to help with constipation and aspirin for the pain.
For more moderate symptoms prescription medications may be prescribed such as, Corticosteroids (prednisone), azathioprine, antibiotics and biologic therapy (Remicade).
If prescribed medications do not work surgery may be necessary. During surgery the diseased part of the intestine is removed although some Crohn’s patients may need surgery to remove part of the small and large intestines.
Diet does not play a role in causing the inflammation. However, some dietary restrictions may be recommended to help in certain circumstances such as superimposed lactose intolerance.
Diarrhea is loose, watery stools that pass three or more times a day. Acute diarrhea lasts 1 or 2 days and goes away on its own but diarrhea lasting more than 2 days may be a sign of a more serious problem.
Acute diarrhea is usually caused by a bacterial, viral or parasitic infection. Chronic diarrhea is usually related to a functional disorder such as irritable bowel syndrome or an intestinal disease such as Crohn’s disease. The most common causes of diarrhea are:
Typically diarrhea is caused by dehydration, by replacing the lost fluids should help treat the problem. There are over-the-counter medicines that will help stop diarrhea like loperamide (Imodium) and bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol and Kaopectate).
Many people have small pouches in their colon that bulge outward through weak spots in the colon wall. Each pouch is called a diverticulum. Multiple pouches are called diverticula. Diverticulitis occurs when the pouches become inflamed or infected.
The traditional theory is that a low-fiber diet causes diverticular disease. Diverticular disease is common in developed or industrialized countries like the United States, England and Australia where low-fiber diets are consumed. However, recent studies completely refute this hypothesis and no one is certain as to why diverticulitis develops or how to prevent complications. More modern theories focus on the type of bacteria in the gut as a potential factor.
Medical history is reviewed and a physical exam is performed. The doctor is looking for changes in bowel habits, pain, diet and medications. Because most people do not have symptoms, diverticulosis is often found through tests ordered for another ailment. If diverticulitis is suspected, the doctor may order one of the following tests:
A high-fiber diet and pain medications usually help relieve symptoms in most cases of diverticulosis. Uncomplicated diverticulitis with mild symptoms usually requires the person to rest, take oral antibiotics and be on a liquid diet for a period of time. Sometimes an attack of diverticulitis is serious enough to require a hospital stay, intravenous (IV) antibiotics, and possibly surgery.
Fatty liver disease (FLD) is a certain kind of fat, specifically triglyceride, accumulates in the liver cells through a process called steatosis. Steatosis is the abnormal retention of lipids within a cell. There are two different kinds of FLD, alcoholic FLD and non-alcoholic FLD.
The main causes are excessive alcohol intake and people with obesity, high fat diet, diabetes mellitus or hereditary cholesterol issues.
Most people do not show symptoms and tend to be asymptomatic. FLD is usually discovered accidentally by abnormal liver function tests or another medical condition.
The cause needs to be identified first. Then a treatment plan will be based on whatever the cause steatosis is to help reverse it. A healthier lifestyle should be encouraged with dieting, exercise, good control of blood sugar, and cessation of excessive alcohol consumption.
Fecal incontinence is the inability to hold a bowel movement until reaching a bathroom or accidental leakage while passing gas. Although patients often understandably feel afraid or embarrassed to talk with their physicians about this problem they should realize that it can be caused by several medical conditions which may be treatable.
About 1 in 12 U.S. adults have FI and it is more common among women. Risk factors include older age, chronic diarrhea, damage to the nervous system, other chronic illnesses (such as diabetes), pelvic injuries and history of difficult childbirths.
Fecal incontinence occurs when control of the anal sphincter (the “social muscle”) is no longer adequate and stools are passed before ready. The muscles and nerves of the rectum and anus are supposed to work together to hold and then release stool. FI may result when the sphincter weakens or the rectal sensation is reduced due to the conditions mentioned above.
A medical history, physical examination and medical tests will be used to help diagnose FI and identify possible causes. There are several tests that can help diagnose FI:
Anal manometry – a pressure tube is used to check the sensitivity and function of the rectum and sphincter function.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – uses detailed pictures of the rectum and anal sphincter muscles.
Anorectal ultrasonography – ultrasound is used to send waves into the anal area which then create pictures of the anal sphincter muscles to detect damage
Proctography – an Xray that shows how much stool the rectum can hold.
Proctosigmoidoscopy – a lighted, flexible tube is inserted into the rectum to examine the end of the large intestine and rectum to determine if there is inflammation, a tumor or scar tissue.
Anal electromyography – this test checks for pelvic and rectal nerve damage.
Once the underlying problem causing FI is diagnosed, one of the following treatments may be used:
Gallstones typically form within the gallbladder though some stones can form within other areas of the biliary tract. Gallstones are lumps of hardened, concentrated bile that contain cholesterol, bile pigments bile salts, calcium salts and/or excretory elements from the breakdown of toxins and other chemicals.
When the bile crystallizes, it forms into one big stone or a few smaller stones that block the ducts that carries bile from your gallbladder.
The most common symptom is severe pain in the upper abdomen or on the right side under the ribs lasting more than three hours. Other symptoms may include vomiting, nausea or jaundice. Usually the pain is triggered from greasy, fatty or starchy foods.
Gallstones are caused by chemical imbalances from cholesterol in the bile. These imbalances are usually a result of poor diet, excessive drugs, rapid changes in weight or an unhealthy liver.
Gallstones can exist quietly in the gallbladder for many years, but are also capable of causing severe abdominal pain. The pain can also spread to the back, shoulders and the neck. Ultrasound testing can be used to confirm the presence of gallstones.
The gallbladder can actually hold up to thousands of small stones.
If you have multiple gallstones or experience frequent attacks your physician may recommend gallbladder removal.
Gastritis is an inflammation of the mucus membrane that lines the stomach caused by a bacterial infection of the stomach or damage from drugs or alcohol. When the mucus layer becomes damaged the stomach wall or lining is exposed to acid, which causes the inflammation.
Acute gastritis is when the inflammation of the stomach lining occurs suddenly and is severe. Chronic gastritis is when the condition develops gradually although an individual may have chronic gastritis for years without experiencing any symptoms.
Gastritis can be a sign that there is an imbalance in your system making you susceptible to various diseases. Lifestyle changes can help, like avoiding alcohol and smoking and to eat a well-balanced diet.
The most common cause of chronic gastritis is the Helicobacter pylori bacterium or H.pylori. H.pylori, is a common bacteria passed from person to person. Non-steroid, anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, etc, may affect the stomachs ability to protect itself against its own acid.
Typically gastritis is treated with antacids to reduce the stomach acid in combination with any medications prescribed to treat the underlying cause. While many types of gastritis can be controlled with over-the-counter remedies, if you are experiencing any severe symptoms or any bleeding, it is essential that you contact your doctor.
Gastroparesis, also called delayed gastric emptying, is a disorder that slows or stops the movement of food from the stomach to the small intestine. Normally, the muscles of the stomach, which are controlled by the vagus nerve, contract to break up food and move it through the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The GI tract is a series of hollow organs joined in a long, twisting tube from the mouth to the anus. The movement of muscles in the GI tract, along with the release of hormones and enzymes, allows for the digestion of food. Gastroparesis can occur when the vagus nerve is damaged by illness or injury and the stomach muscles stop working normally. Food then moves slowly from the stomach to the small intestine or stops moving altogether.
Most people diagnosed with gastroparesis have idiopathic gastroparesis, which means a health care provider cannot identify the cause, even with medical tests. Diabetes is the most common known cause of gastroparesis. People with diabetes have high levels of blood glucose, also called blood sugar. Over time, high blood glucose levels can damage the vagus nerve. Other identifiable causes of gastroparesis include intestinal surgery and nervous system diseases such as Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis. For reasons that are still unclear, gastroparesis is more commonly found in women than in men.
The most common symptoms of gastroparesis are nausea, a feeling of fullness after eating only a small amount of food, and vomiting undigested food-sometimes several hours after a meal. Other symptoms of gastroparesis include
Symptoms may be aggravated by eating greasy or rich foods, large quantities of foods with fiber-such as raw fruits and vegetables-or drinking beverages high in fat or carbonation. Symptoms may be mild or severe, and they can occur frequently in some people and less often in others. The symptoms of gastroparesis may also vary in intensity over time in the same individual. Sometimes gastroparesis is difficult to diagnose because people experience a range of symptoms similar to those of other diseases.
Gastroparesis is diagnosed through a physical exam, medical history, blood tests, tests to rule out blockage or structural problems in the GI tract, and gastric emptying tests. Tests may also identify a nutritional disorder or underlying disease. To rule out any blockage or other structural problems, the health care provider may perform one or more of the following tests:
Treatment of gastroparesis depends on the severity of the person’s symptoms. In most cases, treatment does not cure gastroparesis, which is usually a chronic, or long-lasting, condition. Gastroparesis is also a relapsing condition-the symptoms can come and go for periods of time. Treatment helps people manage the condition so they can be as comfortable and active as possible.
Eating, Diet, and Nutrition
Changing eating habits can sometimes help control the severity of gastroparesis symptoms. A health care provider may suggest eating six small meals a day instead of three large ones. If less food enters the stomach each time a person eats, the stomach may not become overly full, allowing it to empty more easily. Chewing food well, drinking noncarbonated liquids with a meal, and walking or sitting for 2 hours after a meal-instead of lying down-may assist with gastric emptying.
A health care provider may also recommend avoiding high-fat and fibrous foods. Fat naturally slows digestion and some raw vegetables and fruits are more difficult to digest than other foods. Some foods, such as oranges and broccoli, contain fibrous parts that do not digest well. People with gastroparesis should minimize their intake of large portions of these foods because the undigested parts may remain in the stomach too long. Sometimes, the undigested parts form bezoars.
When a person has severe symptoms, a liquid or puréed diet may be prescribed. As liquids tend to empty more quickly from the stomach, some people may find a puréed diet helps improve symptoms. Puréed fresh or cooked fruits and vegetables can be incorporated into shakes and soups. A health care provider may recommend a dietitian to help a person plan meals that minimize symptoms and ensure all nutritional needs are met.
When the most extreme cases of gastroparesis lead to severe nausea, vomiting, and dehydration, urgent care may be required at a medical facility where IV fluids can be given.
Several prescription medications are available to treat gastroparesis. A combination of medications may be used to find the most effective treatment.
Information was provided by National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC)