The Gastro Care Institute is committed to exceptional patient care and to educating patients about their condition and treatment options. This Health Topics section will help answer general questions about your digestive health issue. When you meet with your physician, he or she will provide personalized, more in-depth information about your specific situation.
Colon Polyps and Cancer Preventions
Colon polyps are flat or mushroom-like stems that grow inside your colon or large intestine. Detecting and addressing colon polyps is critical, as undiagnosed polyps can become cancerous
Most colon polyps are associated with colon cancer, which is itself is not directly linked to specific risk factors. This type of cancer is more common in people over age 50 and can affect both men and women equally.
Colon cancer isn’t always accompanied with symptoms. For many people, changes, such as bowel pain or bleeding, don’t occur until the cancer has metastasized and spread to the rest of the body.
Detecting polyps as early as possible is critical in addressing colon polyps and preventing colon cancer. That’s why routine checkups with your doctor are important. A colonoscopy is an outpatient procedure where colon polyps can be removed.
Unfortunately, colon cancer can be hidden in your colon for an extended period of time without symptoms. A malignancy, colon cancer grows on the inside of your colon or rectum. Colon cancer occurs most frequently in men and women over 40, although some younger people are occasionally diagnosed with the disease.
This type of cancer develops from a polyp located in your colon, as these malignant cells spread to your tissues and the rest of your body. You may notice symptoms such as abdominal pain, bleeding from your rectum, unusual weight loss, and altered bowel habits.
Colonoscopy is the primary method by which colon cancer is detected, and the degree to which the disease has spread throughout the inner lining of your colon, or other parts of your body, and your overall health, will impact your likelihood of survival.
Depending on your age, stage of cancer and your health, treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy, and/or chemotherapy. are common treatment options that may be used depending on your age, the stage of your colon cancer, and your health.
Your food isn’t appropriately absorbed when you have celiac disease, a digestive disorder that harms your small intestine and blocks proper food absorption and causes an inability to digest gluten. Celiac disease causes you to lose villi, which lines your small intestine and assists with nutrient absorption and the absence of which makes a person malnourished regardless of food consumption.
Celiac disease’s symptoms are similar to those of depression, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and chronic fatigue syndrome, making the condition difficult to diagnose.
Because your immune syndrome accelerates antibody production in your body (to combat threatened foreign substances entering your body), blood tests are important diagnosis tools. This may be followed by tissue sampling and/or a biopsy of your small intestine.
The primary treatment for celiac disease is removing gluten from the diet.
A person with Barrett’s Esophagus experiences hardened throat tissue, raising the risk of cancer of the esophagus. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), a chronic reflux that brings stomach acid into the esophagus, is thought to be the primary cause of Barrett’s Esophagus.
Patients with Barrett’s may or may not have symptoms. Symptoms include frequent acid reflux, heartburn and/or indigestion, along with challenges swallowing, heartburn that inhibits sleeping, and a continuing cough (unrelated to a cold or other cause).
Using an endoscopy into your esophagus, Barrett’s Esophagus can be successfully diagnosed and treated.
Occurring in the small bowel and the large intestine, Crohn’s disease affects the stomach, esophagus, small bowel, colon, and rectum and is a long-term condition that frequently affects the intestinal tract.
Younger people and Jewish people are most susceptible to Crohn’s disease. However, the disease can result in men and women of every age. If you have Crohn’s disease, you will experience different symptoms depending on where the disease is located in your intestine at a given time. Those with Crohn’s in their last section area of the small bowel will feel occasional pain similar to that from an appendicitis, while those with the disease located in the colon will often experience fever, fatigue, weight loss, and diarrhea.
A common treatment for Crohn’s disease is steroids or cortisone (in pill or enema form) followed by anti-inflammatory drugs that are administered orally or in the rectum. Additional medications that will suppress a person’s immune system are often prescribed, as are antibiotics that will help combat bacterial infections resulting from Crohn’s.
Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis
When small pouches grow in the digestive tract walls, a person develops diverticulosis. These growths are painless, and it is not known why they develop; however, it appears to be related to a dietary fiber deficiency. Diverticulosis affects more than half of adults age 60 and older and almost all adults by age 80.
Symptoms of the condition only tend to occur once inflammation or infection occur in the digestive tract walls. Once this happens, and diverticulitis results, a person will experience fever, abdominal pain, bowel changes, and bloating.
A colonoscopy or barium enema are the most common methods used to diagnosis diverticulitis.
Diverticulosis: Care Instructions Form
Fatty Liver Disease
Fatty liver disease can occur in alcoholics and non-alcoholics, with long-term alcoholics often experiencing liver failure, the first stage of which is fatty liver disease. While ceasing to drink alcohol can halt liver damage, those who do not do so will face cell damage and scar tissue growth in the liver. Excessive scar tissue will shut down the proper function of a person’s liver.
Older, obese women are the people most likely to experience fatty liver disease (including those who have diabetes). It is also common in those who drink excessive amounts of alcohol, although it also affects men and women.
Fatty liver disease is usually not accompanied by symptoms and is diagnosed when unusually high enzyme levels are detected, primarily through a blood test. Weight loss, lowering high serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and controlling your diabetes are also common methods for treating fatty liver disease.
Located under the liver on the body’s right side, the gallbladder is a hollow sac in the shape of a pear and it produces bile, a yellow-green liquid that separates larger pockets of fat into smaller ones.
Most (three-fourths) of gallstone patients are women, although the condition affects men and women of all ages. Use of birth control, pregnancy, rapid weight loss, consuming a high-fat diet, and obesity are all risk factors for gallstones.
For half of those with gallstones, strong, sharp pain in the upper right abdomen is the most common symptom, which occurs after the passage of a stone from the gallbladder to the bile ducts. These pain attacks can vary from 15 minutes to several hours, frequently occur after high fat meals, and are often so intense that they are first thought to be a heart attack. If not treated, gallstones can damage the pancreas and liver.
X-rays and blood tests are frequently used to detect the presence of gallstones. Treatment typically consists of surgery to remove the gallstones.
For those people with gastroenterological issues, a change in a person’s diet, one undertaken to cleanse the digestive tract and improved stomach and intestinal function. This diet, known as a gastroenterology diet, is often recommend and includes:
- Clear Liquid Diet: these are transparent liquids found in water, broth, and gelatin and are easily digestible, with no clear residue left in the intestinal tract.
- Gastroesophageal Reflux (GERD) Diet: caused by the backing up of stomach acids into the esophagus, this digestive issue causes chest pain, a sour taste in the mouth, heartburn, and a feeling of stuck food after swallowing. The GERD diet is intended to relieve these issues and focuses on the elimination of the following foods:
- Fatty or fried foods
- Tomato-based foods
- Strong foods and spices (raw onion, garlic, curry)
Consult your physician for a complete list of foods to avoid.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Marked by a back up of stomach acid into a person’s esophagus, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or strong indigestion and severe heartburn, typically results from eating certain foods. These include citrus fruits and juices, tomato-based substances, caffeine products, and fried or heavy-fat foods.
Several symptoms are associated with heartburn, including a poor, bitter taste in the mouth, a feeling of uprising food into the mouth, a strong, burning feeling that persists for several minutes, and chest pain. Occasionally, some will feel shoulder, jaw, or teeth pain.
Often, an ambulatory acid (pH) probe test device can be used by your physician to detect the level of esophagus acid and therefore whether you have GERD. Treatment may include diet changes, antacids, or prescription medications.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease Form
When your stomach can’t easily digest and pass food through the digestive system, you have gastroparesis, a condition that can be caused by autoimmune conditions, some medications, diabetes, as well as cancer and cancer treatments. A person with gastroparesis may feel full shortly after eating a meal, while other common symptoms are bloating, nausea, bloating, weight loss, and heartburn. Treatment mostly includes the changing of your diet.
When your body absorbs excessive iron and stores too much within the liver, heart, pancreas, and rest of the body, you have hemochromatosis.
People of Caucasian Northern European heritage, men between the ages of 30-50 and women after 50, are most commonly affected by hemochromatosis. The gene causing hemochromatosis doesn’t usually manifest itself until adulthood and symptoms are often not present, even at diagnosis.
A liver biopsy may be ordered to determine the iron level in the liver and the presence of liver damage. Your doctor may also recommend a physical exam and blood test to assess the level of your body’s iron storage.
Marked by inflamed, swollen veins circling the lower rectum (or anus), hemorrhoids, both internal and external, are typically painless. However, those that protrude from the anus opening, or are accompanied by a hardened blood clot, may be painful
A prime cause of hemorrhoids are childbirth and pressure and straining when voiding the bowels, as well as heredity, frequent constipation and/or diarrhea, and age. Typically, you will see itching and lumps around the anus, as well as bright red blood during bowel movements.
Depending on the type of hemorrhoids you have (internal or external), your condition may be identified through a visual inspection of your anal area or a digital exam through the use of a lubricated, gloved finger in your rectum, inserted by your physician.
Treatment ranges from diet modification and topical medication to surgery.
Hemorrhoid Care Instructions Form
Hepatitis C can affect your entire immune system quickly once the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) has spread from a liver infection. This infection is typically permanent for most people, as your immune system is unable to eradicate the virus. Subsequent effects include hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver.
HCV is most commonly found in people with the following attributes:
• Have a history of drug injection or needle sharing or sharing cocaine-snorting apparatus
• Are exposed to human blood, commonly in their employment
• Receive hemodialysis and/or received a blood transfusion before 1990
• Have had a body piercing, tattoo, or unprotected sex with multiple partners, or live with a person suffering from hepatitis C
Many people have no symptoms and live without knowledge of the virus for many years. Those with symptoms experience chronic, long-term infections that continually persist (as well as liver scarring), fatigue, loss of appetite, flu-like symptoms, nausea, and jaundice. In other cases, some people may eventually develop post-infection liver failure after several decades.
Your physician will use a liver biopsy and blood testing to diagnose Hepatitis C.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Referring to a series of symptoms, such as bloating, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, and cramping, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) usually afflicts sufferers for several months. IBS is very common among both women and men, although much more common in women, it may be caused by hormonal issues related to menstruation.
IBS cannot be diagnosed by a test, although tests will generally be administered in order to rule out other possible diseases. IBS can be treated by diet changes, medications and stress mitigation.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome Form
Open sores within your esophagus, small intestine, and stomach are all signs of peptic ulcers.
Those who drink alcohol, and those who smoke or use anti-inflammatory drugs, are more likely to face a peptic ulcer at some point.
Most people with peptic ulcers will experience a burning sensation that is generally located in the abdominal area, often up to the breastbone, which can pass and return over an extended period of time (in a matter of days or weeks). Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, dark, bloody or tarry, black stools, unusual weight loss, and appetite changes.
Your physician will determine whether you have a peptic ulcer through the use of a small, flexible tube and an accompanying video camera that will show the mouth area and upper digestive tract. Afterward, a sample of your stomach lining, which is reviewed for possible signs of cancer and the presence of H. pylori. This procedure is known as an endoscopy.
Peptic ulcers are treated with a variety of methods. Check with your provider.
A recurring disease that can affect your entire colon or just portions and is marked by sores and inflammation on your colon’s lining. Ulcerative colitis is common in men and women of all ages.
Patients with ulcerative colitis experience a variety of symptoms that vary over time and can include loss of weight, appetite, and strength as well as abdominal cramping and diarrhea.
Often, an examination of your rectum and some or all of the colon, and/or blood and stool tests, will be used to diagnose ulcerative colitis. These tests also rule out the presence of similar infections.
Long-term medication is the primary treatment method for ulcerative colitis, primarily in pill or enema form. Many patients need to be seen by their doctors regularly for checkups.