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Find the Best Gastroenterologist Near Me treating diseases a gastroenterologist can treat. 

Gastroenterology is a field of medicine that deals with the health of the digestive system, or the gastrointestinal tract. A specialist, that studied and trained in the field of gastroenterology is known as a gastroenterologist. They can treat all types of diseases about the digestive system. This ranges from peptic ulcer to constipation, hepatitis, irritable bowel syndrome and so on. A gastroenterologist can diagnose and treat diseases of the digestive system, in both men and women. They can carry out different procedures, such as endoscopy, and so on. However, they do not carry out surgeries, which is why they have to work closely with surgeons. Before going into the different types of diseases a gastroenterologist can treat, it’s important to know about the digestive system.

What Is The Digestive System?

The digestive system or the gastrointestinal system consists of the mouth, the stomach, intestines, rectum and so on. The primary purpose of the gastrointestinal system includes the following;

  • To digest and facilitate the movement of food from the mouth down to the rectum
  • To absorb nutrients from the consumed food. This is mostly done in the intestine.
  • To eliminate waste materials from the food consumed, and from the body.

A gastroenterologist is well trained, and treat diseases of any part of the digestive system, asides from surgeries.

What Is Gastroenterology?

As mentioned earlier, this is a field of medicine that focuses on the digestive system. Some of the fields under gastroenterology include the following Diseases a Gastroenterologist Can Treat.

  • Hepatology: This is a field that focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of diseases that has to do with the liver, pancreas and the biliary tree.
  • Organ transplantation: This is the process of replacing a damaged organ of the digestive system.
  • Pancreatic diseases.
  • Cancer of the organs of the digestive system.
  • Endoscopy
  • Esophageal diseases, such as reflux esophagitis.
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases

What Kind Of Procedures Can A Gastroenterologist Perform?

A gastroenterologist can perform various types of procedures. Some of the procedures include the following;

  • Endoscopy ultrasound: This is done to check and evaluate the upper and lower part of the digestive system, especially the internal organs.
  • Colonoscopy: This is explicitly done to check for polyps in the colon.
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography: This is done to evaluate and identify diseases such as gallstones, tumors, scar tissues, especially in the bile duct.
  • Biopsies: These are done to check for inflammation, fibrosis, and tumor A biopsy is the only way to check if tumor growth is malignant or benign.
  • Double b becomealloon enteroscopy: This is done to evaluate the state of the small intestine.

What Conditions Do Gastroenterologists Treat?

Gastroenterologists can diagnose and treat diseases of the digestive system. Below are some of the medical conditions that are treated by gastroenterologists; Diseases a Gastroenterologist Can Treat

  1. Constipation: This is a condition that affects the digestive system. People affected by constipation do have difficulty in passing out stool. Constipation refers to a condition in which the bowel movement of an individual becomes less frequent and in which he/she finds it difficult passing out stool. Other signs and symptoms displayed by patients include pain in the abdomen, bloating, and a feeling as if they’re not entirely passed the bowel movement. Some of the complications that might occur as a result of constipation include anal fissure, impaction of feces, and hemorrhoids. A healthy human should have a bowel movement of about 3 per day, and 3 per week, although this value might be different in children and babies. Constipation is a disease that has various causes. Some of the prevalent causes of this disease include irritable bowel syndrome, the reduced and slow movement of stool in the colon, disorders of the floor of the pelvis. Other conditions that could lead to constipation include diabetes, hypothyroidism, celiac disease, colon cancer, inflammatory bowel disease and so on. There are some medications that can also lead to constipation. Some of the drugs include opioids, calcium channel blockers, anticholinergics and so on. Constipation is a condition that can be easily treated. However, this depends on the cause and the duration it has persisted. The initial measures that should be taken in cases of constipation include drinking sufficient fluids, consuming more fiber foods, and exercise. When this doesn’t become effective, it’d be essential to move on to medications such as laxatives, osmotic agents, and stool softener. Surgery can also be done, although this is reserved for severe and rare cases. Overall, it’s best to consult your gastroenterologist if you suspect you have constipation.
  2. Peptic ulcer: Peptic ulcer is a condition in which people develop open sores in the inner lining of their stomach, and sometimes, in the upper part of their small intestine, also known as the duodenum. A peptic ulcer is a common disease. The most prevalent symptom of this disease is abdominal pain. A peptic ulcer can be divided into two, these are;
  • Gastric ulcer: This is the type of ulcer that occurs in the stomach
  • Duodenal ulcer: This is the type of ulcer that occurs in the upper part of the small intestine, also known as the duodenum.

The peptic ulcer has different causes, but the most common one is an infection, primarily by the bacteria, Helicobacter pylori. Other causes of a peptic ulcer include the prolonged use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin. Prolonged stress and the consumption of spicy foods could also lead to the development of the disease. Some of the signs and symptoms of a peptic ulcer include stomach pain, bloating of the abdomen, heartburn, nausea. Patients experience abdominal pain because of the secretion of the stomach acid on an empty stomach. This food can sometimes be relieved by consuming foods that can buffer the acidity of the stomach. There are some medications that can also reduce the acidity of the stomach. It’s important to know that the majority of people affected with peptic ulcer don’t present with symptoms. Peptic ulcer could also cause the following signs and symptoms, depending on the severity of the disease. They are;

  • Hematochezia: This is a condition in which a patient pass out stools that are stained with blood. In this case, the stools are stained with dark blood. The stools might also appear black in color.
  • Difficulty in breathing.
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss cannot be explained.
  • Loss of appetite.

You should go see your gastroenterologist when you suspect the above signs and symptoms. Severe cases of peptic ulcer can lead to complications such as perforation and infection.

3.Hepatitis: Hepatitis is a viral infection that affects the liver. It can be described as an inflammation of the tissues of the liver. There are other causes of hepatitis. These include autoimmune hepatitis, medications, toxins, alcohol. In autoimmune hepatitis, antibodies attack the liver tissue. The liver is located in the right upper segment of the abdomen. It’s referred to as the powerhouse of the body, as it performs a lot of functions. Some of the functions of the liver include the following;

  • The production of bile, which is useful for the digestion and of fatty food.
  • The elimination of toxins from the body.
  • Helps in the breakdown of food substances such as fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.
  • It’s useful in the storage of glycogen, minerals, and
  • It plays an important role in the synthesis of blood proteins.
  • It’s important for the synthesis of clotting factors.

There are 5 different types of hepatitis: Hepatitis A, B, C, D and E.

Hepatitis A is an acute form of hepatitis, and it’s commonly transmitted through food or water, especially the ones contaminated with feces from people already infected with the disease.

Hepatitis B is transmitted through contact with the fluid of someone already infected with the virus. This includes blood, vaginal, semen and so on. Other common ways of being infected with this virus include injection drug abuse, sex with an already infected person.

Hepatitis C can be transmitted through direct contact with the fluid of an infected individual. Other causes of hepatitis apart from the above include alcohol and toxins. The excessive consumption of alcohol can damage the liver, and lead to inflammation. This is referred to as alcoholic hepatitis. In severe cases, this can lead to liver failure and cirrhosis. Some of the common signs and symptoms of this disease include the following;

  • Tiredness
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Dark urine
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Jaundice
  • Abdominal pain
  • Pale stool.

 4.Pancreatitis: The pancreas is a gland that lies behind the stomach. It has two main This includes the production and release of digestive enzymes into the small intestine. These enzymes enhance the digestion of food. Also, the pancreas produces insulin and glucagon, which are both important for the digestion and metabolism of food substances.

Pancreatitis is a disease in which there is an inflammation of the pancreas. The pancreas has both endocrine and exocrine functions. The pancreas also produces hormones that control the level of glucose in the body. Pancreatitis can either be acute or chronic, depending on the duration of the disease. Chronic pancreatitis can persist for many years, while acute pancreatitis usually lasts for about 3 months. Acute pancreatitis does resolve by itself without treatment most times. Some of the signs and symptoms of acute pancreatitis include abdominal pain, pain that radiates to the back, fever, vomiting, and tenderness when the abdomen is palpated.  Some of the signs and symptoms of chronic pancreatitis include pain in the upper abdomen, weight loss, greasy stools. The exact cause of pancreatitis is unknown. However, there are many factors that could lead to the development of the disease. Some of these factors include alcoholism, medications, cystic fibrosis, gallstones, infection, pancreatic cancer and so on. Pancreatitis can lead to complications when it’s not well managed. Some of the complications are infection, development of pseudocyst, renal failure, diabetes, malnutrition and respiratory problems.  There are some factors that can increase the risk of pancreatitis. Some of these factors include the following;

  • Gallstones
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Other diseases such as lupus, and hypertriglyceridemia.
  • Hereditary conditions such as cystic fibrosis.

Gastroenterologists diagnose this disease by measuring the levels of digestive enzymes such as amylase and lipase.  A high level of these enzymes in the body suggests acute pancreatitis. Other tests that can be used in diagnosing this disease include the pancreatic function test, ultrasound, glucose tolerance test, biopsy, and ERCP. Some of the ways of preventing pancreatitis are by drinking alcohol moderately if you must drink at all. You should contact your gastroenterologist if you notice any of the signs and symptoms of this disease.

5.Irritable Bowel Syndrome: This is a common disorder of the digestive system that affects the large intestine. The signs and symptoms of this disease include abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, cramping and so on. Irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic disease that needs to be managed long-term. The signs and symptoms of this disease are usually mild. However, there have been cases where they are severe. The majority of patients can manage this disease by modifying their diet, reducing stress and changing their lifestyle. Severe signs and symptoms can be managed through medication and counseling, which are provided by gastroenterologists. Below are some of the signs and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome;

  • Mucus in the stool
  • Cramping
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating of the abdomen
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea

The exact cause of this disease isn’t known yet. However, there are some factors that increase the risk of developing this disease. Below are some of the factors that play a role in the development of irritable bowel syndrome;

  • Nervous system: Abnormalities in the nerves of the gastrointestinal tract can lead to the discomfort when the tissues of the abdomen stretch from passing out gas or stool. The poor signal exchange between the brain and the intestines can cause the body to react to normal changes in the digestive process. This would eventually lead to symptoms such as constipation, diarrhea and so on.
  • Inflammation of the intestines: People affected with irritable bowel syndrome do have a high amount of immune-system cells in their intestine. The response elicited by the immune system is usually associated with diarrhea, constipation, and diarrhea.
  • Infection: Irritable bowel syndrome can develop after an infection of the digestive system. An example of this is gastroenteritis, which could be caused by a bacteria or a virus.
  • Microflora of the digestive system: Microflora represents the bacteria that are needed for the normal processes of the digestive system. These bacteria play an important role in the health of the system. Studies have suggested that the microflora in people with irritable bowel syndrome might be different from those in healthy people.

In addition, there are some factors that can trigger this disease. Some of them include food, stress, and hormones. Stress is one of the most common inducers of the disease. Also, it has been observed that women are more likely to develop irritable bowel syndrome.

6.Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Inflammatory bowel disease is a term that describes disorders that involves the chronic inflammation of the digestive system. There are two main types of inflammatory bowel disease. These are Ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease.

Ulcerative Colitis

This is one of the types of the inflammatory disease. Ulcerative colitis causes chronic inflammation and ulcer in the gastrointestinal tract. This disease affects the inner lining of the colon and rectum. The symptoms develop progressively over a long time. This disease can lead to severe complications if not well managed. Some of the symptoms of this disease include abdominal pain, blood stain stool, loss of weight, fever, and anemia. As mentioned earlier, these symptoms develop over time. Ulcerative colitis can lead to severe complications, such as megacolon, inflammation of the eye, joints liver and cancer of the large intestine. The exact cause of this disease isn’t known yet. However, there are some factors that can trigger the development of this disease. Some of these factors include immune system dysfunction, genetics, alteration in the microflora of the digestive system, environmental factors and so on. This disease can be diagnosed by colonoscopy and biopsy of the tissues of the digestive system. Medications can be used to treat the signs and symptoms of the disease. Examples of such medications include mesalazine, steroids, and immunosuppressants such as azathioprine. Surgery is also another option that can be carried out in severe cases.

Causes Of Ulcerative Colitis

The cause of Ulcerative colitis isn’t exactly known. However, different studies and research have made some suggestions. Some of these suggestions are factors such as genetics, environmental factors, immune system.

  • Environmental factors: Environmental factors such as diet is one that could increase the risks of having ulcerative colitis. As an illustration, consuming food that has excessive amounts of unsaturated fat and pantothenic acid increases the risk of having ulcerative colitis. In addition, foods rich in sulfur have also been implicated to raise the chances of having this inflammatory disease.
  • Immune system: Ulcerative colitis is an autoimmune disease. An autoimmune disease is one in which the body T cells fails to recognize the body tissues. This is what happens in Ulcerative colitis. T cells fail to recognize the rectum, and they attack it. Ulcerative colitis is usually localized to the rectum and doesn’t affect the entire colon, as compared to Crohn’s disease.

It has been observed that smoking reduces the chances of having this disease

What Are The Risk Factors Of Ulcerative Colitis?

  • Age: Ulcerative colitis usually starts before the age of thirty. However, it can also occur before the age of 60.
  • Race: Statistics has shown that ulcerative colitis is more prevalent in Caucasians.
  • Heredity: People that have a family member or relative that has suffered from this disease has a high chance of developing ulcerative colitis.

What Are The Complications Of Ulcerative Colitis?

Below are some of the complications of ulcerative colitis;

  • Severe bleeding from the digestive tract.
  • Perforation of the colon.
  • Dehydration, which could be severe in some cases.
  • Disease of the liver
  • Increased risk of the development of blood clots in the vessels
  • More risk of developing colon cancer.

What is Crohn’s Disease?

Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory disease that affects the entire tissue of the gastrointestinal tract. The cause of this disease is not known, but some factors have been identified to contribute mainly to the development of this disease. Some of these factors include genetics, immune system environmental factors, and infections. It’s a chronic inflammatory disease in which the body T cells attack the tissues and cells of the gastrointestinal tract. However, there have been arguments on whether it qualifies to be called auto-immune disease. Some people believe that it might just be an offshoot of the immunodeficiency state. Smoking increases the risk of having this disease, unlike Ulcerative colitis, where smoking reduces the chances of having the disease. The signs and symptoms of Crohn’s disease can vary from mild to severe. Below are some of the signs and symptoms of the disease;

  • Diarrhea
  • Tiredness
  • Fever
  • Cramping
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Anal fistula

People with Crohn’s disease can also present with the following:

Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease

  • Inflammation of the biliary system, which includes the bile ducts.
  • Inflammation of the liver.
  • Inflammation of the skin, and eyes.
  • Inflammation of the joints

What Are the Risk Factors of Crohn’s Disease?

  • Age: Crohn’s disease usually starts before the age of thirty. However, it can also occur before the age of 60.
  • Race: Statistics has shown that Crohn’s disease is more prevalent in Caucasians.
  • Heredity: People that have a family member or relative that has suffered from this disease has a high chance of developing Crohn’s disease
  • Smoking: Smokers have a higher risk of developing Crohn’s disease. It’s important to stop smoking, to reduce the risk of developing this disease.

When Should You See A Gastroenterologist?

It’s important to go see your doctor when you notice any of the following signs and symptoms;

  • Hematochezia: This is a condition in which there is unexplained blood in the stool.
  • An unexplained difficulty in swallowing.
  • Abdominal pain.

People who are over the age of 50 should also endeavor to visit their physician for preventive care.

References

Brand, R. (2006). Risk of colon cancer in hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer patients as predicted by fuzzy modeling: Influence of smoking. World Journal of Gastroenterology, 12(28), p.4485.

Buc, E., Kwiatkowski, F., Alves, A., Panis, Y., Mantion, G. and Slim, K. (2006). Tobacco Smoking: A Factor of Early Onset of Colorectal Cancer. Diseases of the Colon & Rectum, 49(12), pp.1893-1896.

Genel, S. (2013). Clinical Presentation of Celiac Disease Masks Therapeutic Perspectives of Celiac Disease. Pharmaceutica Analytica Acta, 04(04).

 

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