What Is Gastroenterology?
Gastroenterology is a branch of medicine that specializes in the functioning of gastrointestinal tract and treating digestive system disorders. This medicine area deals with a wide spectrum of diseases. They include hepatology that implies the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of pancreas, gallbladder, biliary tree, and liver. Also, gastroenterology is focused on the treatment of pancreatic disease, endoscopic surveillance, gastroesophageal reflux disease, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, transplantation, hepatitis C, and gastrointestinal cancer. And this is not the full list of the diseases this medicine area copes with.
Who Is Gastroenterologist?
Gastroenterologist is a doctor who is engaged in diagnosing and treating the medical conditions of the gastrointestinal tract in people regardless of age and gender.
Gastroenterologists carry out endoscopic procedures which imply the application of specific medical equipment in order to monitor the gastrointestinal tract and set a correct diagnosis. But these doctors can’t do a surgical procedure. However, they may greatly assist the gastrointestinal surgeon. These doctors perform their activities in hospitals and clinics.
The gastrointestinal tract is responsible for the movement of food through the digestive system and its digestion there; for the absorption of all macronutrients, micronutrients, vitamins, minerals, etc.; and for the removal of undigested components from the body. And gastroenterologists cure all parts of the system involved in the mentioned processes except the mouth. As for the mouth which is also a part of digestive system, it is in the medical competence of the dentists.
When to Visit a Gastroenterologist
First of all, once you noticed any alarming symptoms concerning your gastrointestinal tract, you should schedule the family doctor’s appointment. And if this medical expert deems this appropriate, you will be recommended to visit a gastroenterologist. This will happen if you:
- Suffer from rectal bleeding of unknown origin
- Can’t swallow food normally and feel discomfort or/and pain
- Have constant or frequently repeatable bloating and pain in the stomach area
- Abnormal diarrhea and/or constipation
- Too frequently occurring heartburn
- Want to take fat burners but have some gastrointestinal troubles
Also, if you are in your 50s or even older, it’s advisable to consult a gastroenterologist just in order to take a preventive measure. The matter is that all people regardless of gender who are 50 years old and older run a higher risk of colon cancer. You will prevent this serious disease or diagnose it at the very early stage if you follow this recommendation.
So, a screening test underwent on a regular basis is highly suggested for people who are in a risk group. And if someone from your family suffered from colon cancer, it’s obligatory to get a screening to timely save your health and life.
What Do Gastroenterologists Treat?
The gastroenterologists are concerned with diagnosing and treating diseases which afflict the gastrointestinal organs and functions. Among the gastrointestinal organs, it’s possible to distinguish food pipe, stomach, small intestine, colon, rectum, anus, pancreas, gallbladder, bile ducts, and liver.
The American College of Gastroenterology states that the work of gastroenterologist implies that this medical specialist must precisely understand and know how:
- Gastrointestinal organs including liver perform
- Food and other substances go through the stomach and then intestines
- Nutrients are absorbed and digested in the digestive tract
- Waste products leave the human body
The gastroenterologists are engaged in the ensuring health care to the patients, suffering from the following diseases:
- Peptic ulcer
- Gastroesophageal reflux
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Colon polyps
- Gallbladder disease
- Celiac disease
- Colon cancer
The gastroenterologists also frequently provide medical care in conjunction with the other doctors who manage the prevention and treatment of diseases in other medicine fields.
In particular, the gastroenterologists most often cooperate with:
- Radiologists, who obtain and explain medical images
- Hepatologists, who are focused on liver medical conditions
- Oncologists, who use oncology methods for diagnosing and curing cancer
The Role of Diet in Gastrointestinal Health
Unbalanced nutrient-deprived eating pattern deals a great destruction to the whole digestive tract, including all its organs and systems. Typically, the gastrointestinal tract is able to long withstand many negative effects induced with improper diet.
But if the gastrointestinal tract is subject to the adverse factors related to poor nutrition for the extended timeframe, the whole system starts failing to function well. And the gastrointestinal disorders may develop.
Thus, the lack of fiber in the nutrition may lead to the occurrence of medical conditions such as:
- Digestive upset
- Uncleared bowels
- Diverticular disease
- Colon cancer
- Aggravation of available gastrointestinal symptoms
Among the other negative health effects, the alcohol consumption causes:
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease
The intake of high amounts of trans fats provokes:
- Unhealthy elevation of bad (LDL) cholesterol levels
- Gut inflammation
Also, the abundance of additives such as preservatives, colorings, bleaches, and sweeteners consumed with foods on a regular basis has an unbeneficial influence on the gut microbiome. Due to this, the gastrointestinal disorders may develop.
The symptoms of the majority of digestive tract diseases can be substantially relieved after the amendment of existing diet. Thus, the low-fat and low-carb diets can be quite suitable for this purpose. People suffering from celiac disease can ease their condition by sticking to a gluten-free diet. The patients with diagnosed irritable bowel syndrome should replace the daily 2-3-portion eating pattern with the consumption of food in frequent small portions throughout the whole day in order to start feeling much better. And those people who have pancreatitis or other pancreas disorders should always stay hydrated and take care of adequate nutrient intake. The use of the high-quality over-the-counter appetite suppressants will not impede any of the mentioned diets and will only support the patient’s gastrointestinal disorder-relieving efforts.
Causes of Gastrointestinal Disorders
There is a wide range of causes which may contribute to the development of different gastrointestinal disorder of varying severity. These causes are as follows:
- Malnutrition: If nutrient-dense eating plan is replaced with poor nutrition, this leads to many gastrointestinal problems even in case of taking the high-quality HGH supplements. Poor diet along with dehydration in fact cause constipation and other gastrointestinal issues.
- Bacterial or viral infection: When parasites, viruses, and bacteria invade the gastrointestinal tract, the infectious diseases develop. Rotavirus, escherischia coli, cholera, and salmonella lead to the occurrence of bacterial infections. Stomach flu is also a result of contamination with parasites, viruses, and bacteria.
- Autoimmune diseases and inflammation: These diseases provoke many digestive issues since the immune system starts perceiving digestive tissues like an enemy. Among such autoimmune disorders, there are rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, and systemic lupus erymathosus.
- Structural causes: If there are any structural abnormalities in the gastrointestinal tract, it no longer can perform its functions properly. Thus, the availability of ulcer in the stomach lining can transform into malignancy.
- Genetic causes: There are the inherited gastrointestinal disorders. It’s possible to distinguish the inherited digestive diseases like diabetes type 1, cystic fibrosis, colon cancer, liver disorders, pancreatic cancer, Crohn’s disease, hypothyroidism, and coeliac disease.
- Negative lifestyle habits: Insufficient physical activity, tobacco smoking, alcohol abuse, and chronic stress lead to the underperformance of gastrointestinal tract. But positive lifestyle changes along with the intake of top-notch testosterone boosters and adequate nutrition will reverse the situation.
- Intake of medications: A large number of artificial prescription medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and antibiotics have strong side effects which very negatively affect the gastrointestinal tract. Constipation, ulceration, nausea, and loose stools are in the list of such gastrointestinal issues.
- Functional issues: Irritable bowel syndrome is most frequently occurring functional disorder. The functional issues may substantially worsen the quality of patients’ life, but such issues are usually complicated to identify.
- Post-surgical complications: Surgical procedures may lead to negative anatomical changes in the gastrointestinal tract. Among the issues, there is chronic diarrhea which is the outcome of gall bladder surgery or diabetic symptoms after pancreas resection.
- Aging changes: The digestive tract is subject to the negative aging-induced changes just like the other organs. Silva size reduces, motility slows down, reflux becomes impaired, and diverticular disorder may occur.
Types of Gastrointestinal Diseases
Digestive diseases are medical conditions which affect different parts of the gastrointestinal tract.
The digestive process becomes possible only when the breakage of consumed foods and beverages happens. The nutrients contained in everything a person eats and drinks are absorbed in the body and then utilized for energy release and new cell formation.
The gastrointestinal tract consists of food pipe, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum, as well as liver, gallbladder, and pancreas. When one or few parts of digestive system starts malfunctioning, a gastrointestinal disease develops.
It’s possible to distinguish the following types of gastrointestinal diseases:
- Gastric ulcers and duodenal ulcers. Persistently existing painful sensations in stomach and duodenum indicate the availability of ulcers there. Gastric ulcer sufferers feel the strongest pain after meals. Duodenal ulcer sufferers experience more intense ache after night fasting. Coffee ground or blood vomiting as well as black stools are the sings of development of gastric ulcers and duodenal ulcers.
- Diseases of small and large intestine. Disorders which occur in the small and large intestine are a source of unpleasant and painful feelings in abdominal areas. Bowel movements also change. When left unresolved, these disorders can finally result in colon or rectal cancer. Colon examination, stool examination, and careful examination of family medical history, especially if some symptoms are already available, will help you avoid the development and aggravation of small and large intestine diseases.
- Functional gastrointestinal diseases. Functional abdominal pain and chronic irritable bowel syndrome are the most frequently occurring functional gastrointestinal diseases which may develop even if a person tries to stick to a healthy nutrition plan and takes reliable otc diet pills. These disorders typically appear without any objective physical causes. Such conditions appear due to the pathologic interrelation between the enteric nervous system which involves the nerves in the digestive tract and the central nervous system which involves brain. Most frequently, the psychosomatic medical specialists can help the patients with functional gastrointestinal diseases by means of psychotherapy.
Most Common Gastrointestinal Diseases
There is a very widespread range of gastrointestinal diseases but the most common of them are as follows:
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD): The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) states that no less than 20% of American population suffers from GERD, which is a chronic gastrointestinal condition. The most frequently occurring symptoms of this disorder are heartburn and acid reflux.
- Gallstones: They are small, solid, stone-like deposits which emerge in the gallbladder. The latter one is an organ that produced bite irreplaceable for digestive processes. The statistics provided by the American Gastroenterological Association tells that approximately 1,000,000 Americans per year are diagnosed with gallstones.
- Celiac Disease: It is a dangerous intolerance to gluten available in barley, rye, and wheat. The consumption of gluten may cause strong immune system response with various symptoms like anemia, diarrhea, stomach ache, vomiting, bloating, constipation, tiredness, seizures, body weight reduction, and depression.
- Crohn’s Disease: It belongs to the gastrointestinal diseases known as inflammatory bowel disease. Stomach ache, body weight reduction, fever, loose stools, and rectal bleeding may indicate the availability of Crohn’s disease.
- Ulcerative Colitis: This disease is characterized with the strong inflammatory process in the colon. Abdominal cramps, rectal bleeding, urgent and painful bowel movements, burning diarrhea may accompany ulcerative colitis.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome: The International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders brought to the public statistics showing that about 45 million Americans suffer from irritable bowel syndrome. It is known for a persistent abdominal ache and discomfort retaining for at least a few months.
- Hemorrhoids: The devastating US statistics tells that 75 % of Americans who are in their mid-40s and older have a diagnosis of hemorrhoids. The most common symptom of this disease is rectal bleeding with bowel movements.
- Anal Fissure: It is a small crack or tear that occurs in the lining located in the anus. Painful and bleeding bowel movements are frequently associated with this unpleasant digestive condition and resemble the manifestations of hemorrhoids.