Diseases of the Digestive System

A Gastrointestinal disease (GI) is any disease that involves the gastrointestinal tract, namely the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine and rectum, as well as the accessory organs of digestion, the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas.

According to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD), Gastrointestinal diseases can occur when nerves or muscles in any portion of the digestive tract do not function in a coordinated fashion, or when the sensitivity of the nerves of the intestines or the way in which the brain controls some of these functions is impaired.

One example of Gastrointestinal disease is Crohn’s disease. Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract; it belongs to a group of conditions known as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). IBD actually includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease that causes long-lasting inflammation and sores (ulcers) in the innermost lining of the large intestine (colon) and rectum.

An estimated 780,000 Americans is said to be affected with this chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract and, though men and women are equally likely to be affected, it is more widespread among adolescents and young adults aged from 15 to 35.

It is not well understood what actually causes Crohn’s disease; however, recent research suggests that environmental factors and genetics are contributory factors. Its symptoms also vary from one patient to another, the most common, however, according to a Valley Stream gastroenterologist, include: pain, severe diarrhea, bloody stool, fatigue, weight loss, decreased appetite, abdominal pain, abdominal cramps, and fever.

In treating inflammatory bowel diseases, the goal is to reduce the inflammation that is responsible for triggering the signs and symptoms. There is no cure for IBD, unfortunately, but many treatment options exist to help relieve the symptoms on a daily basis, including:

  • anti-inflammatory drugs
  • immune system suppressors
  • antibiotics
  • other types of medications
  • surgery

Even if one may think that he or she is showing signs of IBD, especially Crohn’s disease symptoms, only proper testing performed by a Gastroenterologist can render a diagnosis. A gastroenterologist is a physician specializing in diseases of the digestive system (also called the gastrointestinal tract or GI tract); he or she treats conditions that affect the esophagus, stomach, small and large intestines (colon), and biliary system, which include the liver, the pancreas, the gallbladder, and the bile ducts.

 

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