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February 16, 2017

The 5 Most Common Digestive Diseases & How They Are Treated

The best decision is an informed decision. Making informed decisions with your doctor leads to healthier patients! Therefore, the physicians at InSite Digestive Health Care would like to provide you a list of the most common digestive diseases and their treatments. For more information regarding these or other digestive conditions, seek the guidance of your gastroenterologist!

IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome, is a gastrointestinal disorder that is technically a grouping of symptoms put together. It is diagnosed when an individual experiences symptoms such as abdominal pain, constipation, gas, bloating, and/or diarrhea that is recurring, often several times per month. IBS is a frustrating and chronic condition which in many cases has no cause. There are are new ideas that are being studied and which may lead to new treatments. There is no standard diagnostic test for IBS. Treatment usually includes a combination of diet/nutritional changes, medication, use of probiotics, and even therapy for stress management.

Acid Reflux, otherwise known as GERD is due to back-up of stomach juices into the esophagus. It occurs normally briefly in most of us from time to time. It becomes a disorder or disease (the D in GERD) when it occurs much of the time, causes symptoms that are bothersome or causes damage to the esophagus. GERD is the disease of having these reflux events so often that symptoms or actual tissue damage to the esophagus results from repeated exposure to acid juices. Once reflux is diagnosed, an anti-reflux program can be started. Some patients have to maintain a strict program to relieve symptoms, while others with less severe symptoms, may not have to alter their usual routine very much. Treatment of esophageal reflux consists of two major components, lifestyle changes and medication.

Hemorrhoids occur when hemorrhoidal veins become enlarged and/or swollen. They can be internal or external; external hemorrhoids look and feel like a protrusion located just outside of the anus. They are very common, particularly with women during pregnancy and delivery. The most effective treatment is CHR banding. The procedure known as hemorrhoid bandaging (CHR banding) is minimally invasive hemorrhoid treatment procedure that can be done by your gastroenterologist. A small tight rubber band is placed around the internal hemorrhoid tissue, causing the tissue to shrivel up and form a small scar. The result is relief of symptoms like bleeding and swelling.

Gallstones are fluid deposits that harden and form into stones within the gallbladder. These deposits can be as tiny as a few grains of sand or as large as a golf ball; individuals can experience more than one gallstone at a time. Symptoms of gallstones are painful, with pain originating from the upper right abdomen and sometimes even from the upper back/shoulder area. This pain should be taken very seriously as gallstones can escalate into other complications. Treatment for gallstones is a Cholecystectomy, or the surgical removal of a person’s gallbladder.

Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide. It is also known as gluten sensitive enteropathy, celiac sprue, or nontropical sprue. Celiac is a condition where the immune system responds abnormally to a protein called gluten. Gluten is a type of protein. It is found in grains like: wheat, barley, rye, and many types of prepared food. This condition can cause damage to the lining of the small intestine. The small intestine is responsible for absorbing food and nutrients. Thus, damage to the lining of the small intestines can lead to difficulty absorbing important nutrients; this problem is referred to as malabsorption. Permanently removing gluten from the diet is the only treatment for celiac disease. This allows the intestinal villi to heal and improves absorption of nutrients. Untreated celiac disease can cause severe malnutrition and can develop into other autoimmune diseases and cancer.

If you suspect you could have one of these issues, don't delay in speaking with your gastroenterologist. To find a gastroenterologist near you, please see our large selection of medical professionals within California. To learn more about these and other conditions, see our patient education!