Gastroenterology Diseases

Barrett’s Esophagus

Barrett’s esophagus occurs when the normal tissue lining the esophagus changes to tissue resembling the lower intestinal tract. This damage to the lower esophagus results from repeated exposure to stomach acid, as a result of GERD. Patients may experience symptoms related to GERD. Barrett’s esophagus increases the risk of esophageal carcinoma.

Colon Polyps

Colon Polyps are small clusters of cells that form in the colon lining. Most colon polyps are benign, or non-cancerous, but some can become malignant over time. There is a higher risk of developing colon polyps in patients over 50 years old, that are overweight, are smokers, have poor diets, or have a family history of colon polyps. Colon polyps do not always produce symptoms, so colon screenings are important to discover polyps that may become cancerous. If symptoms do occur they can include rectal bleeding, blood in the stool, constipation, diarrhea, and pain or obstruction of the bowl.

Constipation

Constipation is infrequent or difficult to pass bowel movements. The normal frequency of bowel movements varies by person, but constipation is generally defined as fewer than three movements per week, and if the stool is hard and dry. Other symptoms include straining during passage of stool, rectal blockage, and incomplete evacuation of bowels. Constipation is common, and can usually be fixed by lifestyle changes such as more exercise, fluids, and high-fiber foods.

GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease)

GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease. GERD is a chronic result of mucosal damage from stomach acid reaching the esophagus. This causes irritation of the esophagus and causes acid reflux and heartburn. GERD is defined as this occurrence at least two times a week, or when it interferes with daily life. Symptoms of GERD include a burning sensation in the chest or throat, chest pain, difficulty swallowing, dry cough, hoarse or sore throat, acid reflux, and a feeling of lump in the throat.

Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that may affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract. It causes inflammation of the digestive tract lining, resulting in symptoms which include diarrhea, abdominal pain and cramping, blood in the stool, ulcers, and reduced appetite or weight loss. Crohn’s disease is often diagnoses before the age of 30; risk is increased with a family history, cigarette smoking, and living in urban and industrialized areas.

Diverticulitis

Diverticulitis is a condition in which outpockets known as diverticula occur in the lining of the colon, and become inflamed or infected. It is unclear how diverticula become inflamed or infected but it may be due to weakness of the diverticula wall, trapped fecal matter, or obstruction which reduces blood supply. Symptoms include sudden or sever pain in the lower left abdomen, abdominal pain, change in bowel habits, abdominal tenderness, constipation, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, bloating, nausea and vomiting, and fever.

Lynch Syndrome

Lynch Syndrome, also known as hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) is a hereditary syndrome which increases the risk of colon and other cancers because of inherited mutations which impair DNA mismatch repair. Symptoms include colon cancer occurring before the age of 50, family history of colon cancer, endometrial cancer, or other related cancers such as kidney, stomach, small intestine, liver, and ovarian cancer.

Helicobacter Pylori

Helicobacter pylori, also known as H. pylori, is a type of bacteria that infects the stomach. It is often contracted during childhood, and can be treated with antibiotics. H. pylori is present in about 50% of the world’s population, but rarely causes symptoms. Symptoms may include abdominal ache or burning, nausea, vomiting, bloating, weight loss, and frequent burping. H. pylori can cause stomach lining damage or irritation, and is responsible for increased risk of peptic ulcers, stomach lining inflammation, and stomach cancer.

Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids are inflamed or swollen veins of the anal canal, also called piles. They may result due to increased pressure during pregnancy, straining during bowel movements, sitting for long periods of time on the toilet, obesity, anal intercourse, chronic diarrhea or constipation, and a low-fiber diet. The risk of hemorrhoids increases with age. Symptoms include painless bleeding during bowel movements, itching or irritation in the anal region, anal swelling, a lump near the anus, fecal leaking, and pain or discomfort. Hemorrhoids are treated in a variety of ways, from simple life style changes to medication or surgery.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder of the large intestine, or colon. IBS may cause abdominal pain or cramping, gas, bloating, diarrhea or constipation, or mucus in the stool. It can be treated a variety of ways, including fiber supplements, eliminating high-gas foods, avoiding problem foods, eating smaller meals, drinking plenty of fluids, and exercising regularly.

Celiac (Sprue) Disease

Celiac disease, often called celiac sprue, is an immune reaction to eating gluten. The reaction of gluten causes inflammation of the small intestine and damage to the villi, which are responsible for the absorption of important nutrients. While some patients experience no symptoms, they can include diarrhea, weight loss, constipation, anemia, loss of bone density, itchy or blistery skin rash, headaches, fatigue, nervous system injury, joint pain, reduced functioning of the spleen, acid reflux, and heartburn. Treatment includes a gluten-free diet, which means cutting out wheat, barley, bulgur, durum, farina, graham flour, malt, rye, semolina, spelt, and triticale. It may be helpful to see a dietician.