GERD | Constipation | Diarrhea | Irritable Bowel Syndrome | Ulcerative Colitis | Crohn’s Disease | Peptic Ulcer Disease | Fatty Liver | Hepatitis B | Hepatitis C | Gallstones | Pancreatitis | Dysphagia | Hiatal hernia | Celiac disease

GERD aka Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

GERD is a chronic symptom of esophagus damage caused by stomach acid moving up from the stomach into the esophagus. It is usually caused by a fault in the barrier between the stomach and the esophagus. An abnormal relaxation of the the valve which normally holds the top of the stomach closed, allows the wrong direction flow of stomach acid into the esophagus.

Treatment is typically done with diet changes and medications. Surgery can be an option when these treatments do not work. Prevalence is between 10 and 20% of the population.

Constipation

Constipation refers to bowel movements that are infrequent and/or hard to pass. Constipation is a common cause of painful defecation. Severe constipation includes obstipation and fecal impaction which are failure to pass stools or gas. These can progress to bowel obstruction and become life-threatening. Constipation is a symptom that has many causes. Constipation is a symptom and not a disease. Treatment of constipation requires first determining the underlying cause.

Treatments include changes in diet, laxatives, enemas, and in severe cases may require surgery.

Diarrhea

Diarrhea is loosely defined as having three or more loose or liquid bowel movements per day. It is most commonly caused by gastroenteritis. Unfortunately, it is a common cause of death in developing countries and the second most common cause of infant deaths world wide. The loss of fluids through diarrhea can cause dehydration and electrolyte disturbances and other salt imbalances.

IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)

Irritable bowel syndrome is a symptom with chronic abdominal pain, discomfort, bloating, and a change of bowel habits. IBS has no known specific cause. Symptoms can include diarrhea or constipation. Usually it is a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning doctors cannot find other reasons for these symptoms. It is often combined with weight loss, bloating and GI pain. The exact cause of IBS is unknown, however, a prevalent theory is that IBS is a disorder of the interaction between the brain and the GI tract.

Often there is no real cure for IBS. Treatments usually attempt to relieve symptoms, including diet changes, medications and psychological interventions.

Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). it is a disease of the colon (large intestine). It includes ulcers, or open sores of the colon. The main symptom is constant diarrhea mixed with blood. IBD is often confused with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and Crohn’s disease, another form of IBD. Ulcerative colitis is an intermittent disease, with periods of increased symptoms, and periods that are relatively symptom-free. Symptoms can sometimes diminish on their own, but usually requires treatment to go into remission.

Ulcerative colitis is treated as an autoimmune disease (the body’s immune system attacks itself). Treatment is done with medications such as anti-inflammatories, immunosuppression, and therapy targeting the immune system. Colectomy (partial or total removal of the large bowel through surgery) is sometimes necessary when the disease is severe, and doesn’t respond to medical treatments.

Crohn’s disease

Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that affects any part of the gastrointestinal tract from mouth to anus. Symptoms vary. It causes abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting , weight loss and other complications outside the gastrointestinal tract such as anemia, skin rashes, arthritis, inflammation of the eye, tiredness, and lack of concentration. Crohn’s disease is caused by environmental factors, immunological and bacterial factors, resulting in a chronic inflammatory disorder, in which the body’s immune system attacks the gastrointestinal tract.

There is no known drugs or surgical cure for Crohn’s disease. Treatment options are restricted to controlling symptoms, maintaining remission, and preventing relapse.

Peptic ulcer disease

Peptic ulcer disease is an ulcer of an area of the gastrointestinal tract. It is usually extremely painful due to the acidic environment. It is often defined as mucosal erosions greater than or equal to 0.5 cm. Ulcers are often caused or worsened by drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and other NSAIDs. They are often also caused by a bacterial infection of the GI tract with H. Pylori bacteria.

Treatment includes identifying and stopping the cause of the ulcer such as discontinuing offending medications. It is important to recognize the underlying cause of peptic ulcer disease. There are many drugs that treat peptic ulcers by killing H. Pylori, blocking acid production, reducing acidity by neutralizing stomach acid, and protecting the stomach and intestine lining.

Fatty liver

Fatty liver (also called Steatosis) is a reversible condition where large areas of triglyceride fat accumulate in liver cells. This is an abnormal retention of lipids within the cells. It can have multiple causes. It usually occurs in those with excessive alcohol intake and the obese. It is also associated with other diseases that influence fat metabolism It may also be accompanied by a hepatitis, inflammation of the liver.

Treatment of fatty liver depends on its cause. Treating the underlying cause will reverse the process if started at an early stage. Excess alcohol consumption should be stopped. Diet should be changed to discontinue foods with a high proportion of calories coming from lipids. A gradual weight loss is often the only recommendation. In more serious cases medications that decrease insulin resistance, hyperlipidemia as well as those that induce weight loss have been shown to improve liver function.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is an infectious disease affecting the liver. It is caused by the hepatitis B Virus. the virus is exchanged between people by contact with bodily fluids such as blood, semen, and vaginal fluid.

The virus causes inflammation of the liver in the acute stages. Other acute symptoms include vomiting, jaundice and rarely death. Chronic Hepatitis B infection can cause liver cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer.

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is an infectious disease affecting the liver. It is caused by the hepatitis C virus. The infection is often asymptomatic, but long term infection can lead to scarring of the liver and ultimately to cirrhosis. In some cases, those with cirrhosis will go on to develop liver failure, liver cancer. Hepatitis C Virus is spread primarily by blood-to-blood contact associated with intravenous drug use, poorly sterilized medical equipment and transfusions.

This virus infection can be treated with medications. Overall, 50–80% of people treated are cured. Those who develop cirrhosis or liver cancer may require a liver transplant. No vaccine against hepatitis C is available.

Gallstones

A gallstone is a crystal solid formed within the gallbladder by aggregation of bile components. These calculi are formed in the gallbladder but may pass into other parts of the biliary tract. In cases of severe inflammation, gallstones may erode through the gallbladder into adherent bowel potentially causing an obstruction. Presence of gallstones in the gallbladder may lead to acute cholecystitis, an inflammatory condition of the gallbladder and often secondary infection by intestinal bacteria. Presence of gallstones in other parts of the biliary tract can cause obstruction of the bile ducts, which can lead to more serious conditions.

Treatment of gallstones can sometimes be dissolved by oral medication. Obstruction of the common bile duct with gallstones can sometimes be relieved by endoscopy. Gallstones can be broken up using a procedure called extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy, a method of concentrating ultrasonic shock waves onto the stones to break them into tiny pieces. They are then passed safely in the feces. However, this form of treatment is suitable only when there is a small number of gallstones. Surgical treatment includes Cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal) has a 99% chance of eliminating the recurrence. Surgery is only indicated in symptomatic patients. The lack of a gallbladder may have no negative consequences in many people. There are two surgical options for cholecystectomy:
Open cholecystectomy is performed via an abdominal incision. Laparoscopic cholecystectomy is performed via three to four small puncture holes for a camera and instruments.

Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas. It has several causes and symptoms and requires immediate medical attention. It occurs when pancreatic enzymes that digest food are activated in the pancreas instead of the small intestine. It may be acute—beginning suddenly and lasting a few days, or chronic—occurring over many years.

The treatment of pancreatitis is supportive and depends on severity. Narcotics are used for pain control. The treatment that is received for acute pancreatitis will depend on whether the diagnosis is for the mild form of the condition, which causes no complications, or the severe form, which can cause serious complications. The treatment of mild acute pancreatitis is admission to a hospital. Eating should not be allowed until pancreatic inflammation has resolved, which usually takes around five days, as the digestion process places strain on the pancreas. Severe Pancreatitis is associated with organ failure, necrosis, infected necrosis, pseudocyst and abscess. If diagnosed with severe acute pancreatitis, they will need to be admitted to an intensive care unit where fluids will be pumped intravenously. It will be necessary to treat the underlying cause.

Dysphagia (swallowing disorders)

Dysphagia is the medical term for the symptom of difficulty in swallowing resulting in difficulty in the passage of solids or liquids from the mouth to the stomach. It is a symptom of some other underlying problem of the esophagus that a doctor will identify, and not a disease of its own.

Treatment of dysphagia will depend on the underlying cause of this symptom.

Hiatal hernia

Hiatal hernia occurs when part of the stomach pushes upward through the diaphragm. Your diaphragm has a small opening (hiatus) that the esophagus passes through to connect to the stomach. The stomach pushes up through this opening.

In most cases, sufferers experience no discomfort and no treatment is required, however, when the hiatal hernia is large it is likely to cause esophageal stricture and discomfort. Patients should elevate the head of their beds and avoid lying down directly after meals. If it has been brought on by stress, stress reduction techniques may be prescribed. In overweight patients weight loss is indicated. Antisecretory drugs like proton pump inhibitors and H2 receptor blockers can be used to reduce acid secretion. Where hernia symptoms are severe and chronic acid reflux is involved, surgery is sometimes recommended, as chronic reflux can severely injure the esophagus and even lead to esophageal cancer. Surgery may be indicated to prevent herniation of the stomach through the hiatus in the diaphragm and the reflux of gastric acid.

Celiac disease

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine that occurs in genetically predisposed people of all ages from middle infancy onward. Symptoms include pain and discomfort in the digestive tract, chronic constipation and diarrhea, anemia and fatigue. sometimes these symptoms may be absent, and symptoms in other organ systems have been described. Vitamin deficiencies are often noted in people with celiac disease due to the reduced ability of the small intestine to properly absorb nutrients from food. Celiac disease is often caused by a reaction a gluten protein found in wheat, and similar proteins found in the other common grains. While the disease is caused by a reaction to wheat proteins, it is not the same as wheat allergy.

The only known effective treatment is a lifelong gluten-free diet.