What is Gastroenterology?
According to the American College of Gastroenterology, Gastroenterology is the study of the normal function and diseases of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon and rectum, pancreas, gallbladder, bile ducts and liver.
Who is a Gastroenterologist?
A Gastroenterologist is a physician with dedicated training management of diseases of the gastrointestinal tract and liver.A gastroenterologist needs to have a detailed understanding of the normal physiology of all the above mentioned organs as well as motility through the intestines and gastrointestinal tract in order to maintain a healthy digestion, absorption of nutrients, removal of waste and metabolic processes.
A gastroenterologist also needs to have a clear understanding of ailments affecting the organs of the gastrointestinal system
Colon cancer is the cancer of the large intestine (colon), the lower part of your digestive system. Rectal cancer is the cancer of the last several inches of the colon. Together, they’re often referred to as colorectal cancers. Most cases of colon cancer begin as small, noncancerous (benign) clumps of cells called adenomatous polyps. Over time some of these polyps become colon cancers. Polyps may be small and produce few if any, symptoms. For this reason, doctors recommend regular screening tests to help prevent colon cancer by identifying polyps before they become colon cancer.
Liver cancer is cancer that begins in the cells of your liver. Your liver is a football-sized organ that sits in the upper right portion of your abdomen, beneath your diaphragm, and above your stomach. Liver cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in the world, but liver cancer is uncommon in the United States. Rates of liver cancer diagnosis are increasing in the United States. Not all cancers that affect the liver are considered liver cancer. Cancer that begins in another area of the body, such as the colon, lung or breast, and then spreads to the liver is called metastatic cancer, rather than liver cancer. And this type of cancer is named after the organ in which it began — such as metastatic colon cancer to describe cancer that begins in the colon and spreads to the liver.
Pancreatic cancer begins in the tissues of your pancreas — an organ in your abdomen that lies horizontally behind the lower part of your stomach. Your pancreas secretes enzymes that aid digestion and hormones that help regulate the metabolism of sugars. Pancreatic cancer often has a poor prognosis, even when diagnosed early. Pancreatic cancer typically spreads rapidly and is seldom detected in its early stages, which is a major reason why it’s a leading cause of cancer death. Signs and symptoms may not appear until pancreatic cancer is quite advanced and surgical removal isn’t possible.
Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It causes inflammation of the lining of your digestive tract, which can lead to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, and even malnutrition. Inflammation caused by Crohn’s disease can involve different areas of the digestive tract in different people. The inflammation caused by Crohn’s disease often spreads deep into the layers of affected bowel tissue. Like ulcerative colitis, another common IBD, Crohn’s disease can be both painful and debilitating, and sometimes may lead to life-threatening complications. While there’s no known cure for Crohn’s disease, therapies can greatly reduce the signs and symptoms of Crohn’s disease and even bring about long-term remission. With treatment, many people with Crohn’s disease are able to function well.
Indigestion — also called dyspepsia or an upset stomach — is a general term that describes discomfort in your upper abdomen. Indigestion is not a disease, but rather a collection of symptoms you experience, including bloating, belching and nausea. Although indigestion is common, how you experience indigestion may differ from other people. Symptoms of indigestion might be felt occasionally or as often as daily. Fortunately, you may be able to prevent or treat the symptoms of indigestion
GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease)
(GERD) is a chronic digestive disease that occurs when stomach acid or, occasionally, bile flows back (refluxes) into your food pipe (esophagus). The backwash of acid irritates the lining of your esophagus and causes GERD signs and symptoms. Signs and symptoms of GERD include acid reflux and heartburn. Both are common digestive conditions that many people experience from time to time. When these signs and symptoms occur at least twice each week or interfere with your daily life, doctors call this GERD. Most people can manage the discomfort of heartburn with lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications. But for people with GERD, these remedies may offer only temporary relief. People with GERD may need stronger medications, even surgery, to reduce symptoms.
Hepatitis B is a serious liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). For some people, hepatitis B infection becomes chronic, leading to liver failure, liver cancer, or cirrhosis — a condition that causes permanent scarring of the liver. Most people infected with hepatitis B as adults recover fully, even if their signs and symptoms are severe. Infants and children are much more likely to develop a chronic hepatitis B infection. Although no cure exists for hepatitis B, a vaccine can prevent the disease. If you’re already infected, taking certain precautions can help prevent spreading HBV to others.
Hepatitis C is an infection caused by a virus that attacks the liver and leads to inflammation. Most people infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) have no symptoms. In fact, most people don’t know they have the hepatitis C infection until liver damage shows up, decades later, during routine medical tests. Hepatitis C is one of several hepatitis viruses and is generally considered to be among the most serious of these viruses. Hepatitis C is passed through contact with contaminated blood — most commonly through needles shared during illegal drug use.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) involves chronic inflammation of all or part of your digestive tract. IBD primarily includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. IBD can be painful and debilitating, and sometimes leads to life-threatening complications. Ulcerative colitis (UL-sur-uh-tiv koe-LIE-tis) is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes long-lasting inflammation in part of your digestive tract. Symptoms usually develop over time, rather than suddenly. Ulcerative colitis usually affects only the innermost lining of your large intestine (colon) and rectum. It occurs only through continuous stretches of your colon. Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation anywhere along the lining of your digestive tract, and often spreads deep into affected tissues. This can lead to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea and even malnutrition. The inflammation caused by Crohn’s disease can involve different areas of the digestive tract in different people. Collagenous colitis (kuh-LAJ-uh-nus) and lymphocytic colitis also are considered inflammatory bowel diseases, but are usually regarded separately from classic inflammatory bowel disease.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder that affects your large intestine (colon). Irritable bowel syndrome commonly causes cramping, abdominal pain, bloating gas, diarrhea and constipation. Despite these uncomfortable signs and symptoms, IBS doesn’t cause permanent damage to your colon. Most people with IBS find that symptoms improve as they learn to control their condition. Only a small number of people with irritable bowel syndrome have disabling signs and symptoms. Fortunately, unlike more-serious intestinal diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome doesn’t cause inflammation or changes in bowel tissue or increase your risk of colorectal cancer. In many cases, you can control irritable bowel syndrome by managing your diet, lifestyle and stress.
Peptic ulcers are open sores that develop on the inside lining of your esophagus, stomach, and upper portion of your small intestine. The most common symptom of a peptic ulcer is abdominal pain. Peptic ulcers that occur on the inside of the stomach are called gastric ulcers. Peptic ulcers that occur inside the hollow tube (esophagus) where food travels from your throat to your stomach are called esophageal ulcers. Peptic ulcers that affect the inside of the upper portion of your small intestine (duodenum) are called duodenal ulcers. It’s a myth that spicy foods or a stressful job can cause peptic ulcers. Doctors now know that a bacterial infection or some medications — not stress or diet — cause most peptic ulcers.
Ulcerative colitis (UL-sur-uh-tiv koe-LIE-tis) is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes long-lasting inflammation in part of your digestive tract. Like Crohn’s disease, another common IBD, ulcerative colitis can be debilitating and sometimes can lead to life-threatening complications. Because ulcerative colitis is a chronic condition, symptoms usually develop over time, rather than suddenly. Ulcerative colitis usually affects only the innermost lining of your large intestine (colon) and rectum. It occurs only through continuous stretches of your colon, unlike Crohn’s disease, which occurs anywhere in the digestive tract and often spreads deep into the affected tissues. There’s no known cure for ulcerative colitis, but therapies are available that may dramatically reduce the signs and symptoms of ulcerative colitis and even bring about long-term remission.
Traveler’s diarrhea is a digestive tract disorder that commonly causes loose stools and abdominal cramps. It’s caused by eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water. Fortunately, traveler’s diarrhea usually isn’t serious — it’s just unpleasant. When you visit a place where the climate, social conditions, or sanitary standards and practices are different from yours at home, you have an increased risk of developing traveler’s diarrhea. Being careful about what you eat and drink while traveling can reduce your risk of traveler’s diarrhea. If you do develop traveler’s diarrhea, chances are it will resolve without treatment. However, it’s a good idea to have doctor-approved medications with you when you travel to high-risk areas in case diarrhea persists.
Celiac (SEE-lee-ak) disease is a digestive condition triggered by consumption of the protein gluten, which is primarily found in bread, pasta, cookies, pizza crust, and many other foods containing wheat, barley or rye. People with celiac disease who eat foods containing gluten experience an immune reaction in their small intestines, causing damage to the inner surface of the small intestine and an inability to absorb certain nutrients. Celiac disease can cause abdominal pain and diarrhea. Eventually, the decreased absorption of nutrients (malabsorption) that occurs with celiac disease can cause vitamin deficiencies that deprive your brain, peripheral nervous system, bones, liver, and other organs of vital nourishment. No treatment can cure celiac disease. However, you can effectively manage celiac disease by changing your diet.
AIDS-Associated Chronic Diarrhea
Chronic diarrhea is usually broken into 3 categories: osmotic, secretory, and inflammatory. Some chronic diarrhea can be caused by infections that fall into one of these categories as well. Diarrhea whose source is the small bowel or pancreas usually produces bulky, large-volume stools. The colonic disease usually produces small-volume stools with frequency and tenesmus.