The information shared below is provided to you as an educational source only and is not intended to replace a medical examination or consultation. If you haven’t done so yet, please contact our team to arrange a consultation by one of our physicians or medical professionals.
Upper GI Tract
Barrett's esophagus is a condition where the tissue lining the esophagus is replaced by tissue similar to the lining of the intestine. The reason Barrett's esophagus is important is because people who have it have a small increased risk of developing esophageal cancer.
Celiac disease (CD) is a chronic (long-term) digestive disease in which patients have inflammation or irritation of the small intestine, which causes difficulty with absorbing nutrients from the diet. Patients with CD often have other family members with the condition and are therefore susceptible to this disease. Inflammation in the bowel occurs when a patient with CD begins to eat food that contains gluten. Gluten is the name given to certain types of proteins found in wheat, barley, rye and related grain
Eosinophilic esophagitis (also known as EoE) is a disease characterized by the presence of a large number of a special type of white blood cell, the eosinophil, that can cause inflammation in the esophagus. This inflammation can lead to stiffening or narrowing of the esophagus, which can lead to difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) or food getting stuck in the esophagus.
Esophageal cancer is cancer that occurs in the esophagus — a long, hollow tube that runs from your throat to your stomach. Your esophagus carries food you swallow to your stomach to be digested.
Esophageal cancer usually begins in the cells that line the inside of the esophagus. Esophageal cancer can occur anywhere along the esophagus, but in people in the United States, it occurs most often in the lower portion of the esophagus.
Esophagitis is a term for any inflammation, irritation, or swelling of the esophagus. Esophagitis is frequently caused by the backflow of acid-containing fluid from the stomach.
Gallstones are small, pebble-like substances that develop in the gallbladder. They form when liquid that has been stored in the gallbladder hardens into pieces of stone-like material. Most persons with gallstones (80%) have no symptoms of pain. These people are said to have "silent" gallstones. Patients with symptomatic gallstones usually experience pain in the right upper region of the abdomen, but sometimes pain may localize to the right shoulder or chest.
Intestinal gas is a topic that people often find difficult to discuss, but we all have gas in our intestinal tract. Gas can contribute to a sense of bloating (fullness), belching, abdominal cramps, and flatulence (gas). These symptoms are usually brief and resolve once gas is released by belching or flatulence. Some people can be more sensitive to even normal amounts of gas and develop the above symptoms. Many people think they have too much gas when they really have normal amounts. Most produce about 1 to 4 pints a day and pass gas about 14 times a day.
Gastritis is a condition in which the stomach lining is inflamed. When the stomach lining is inflamed, it produces less acid, enzymes, and mucus.
Gastroparesis literally translated means “stomach paralysis”. Gastroparesis is a digestive disorder in which the motility of the stomach is either abnormal or absent. When the condition of gastroparesis is present the stomach is unable to contract normally, and therefore cannot crush food nor propel food into the small intestine properly. Normal digestion may not occur.
Heartburn & Reflux & GERD
Gastroesophageal reflux is a physical condition in which acid from the stomach flows backward up into the esophagus. People will experience heartburn symptoms when excessive amounts of acid reflux into the esophagus. GER occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) opens spontaneously, for different periods of time, or does not close properly and stomach contents rise up into the esophagus.
H. pylori is a type of bacteria that may cause infection. Symptoms usually do not occur until adulthood, although most people never have any. H. pylori causes more than half of peptic ulcers worldwide.
A hiatal hernia occurs when part of your stomach pushes upward through your diaphragm. Most cases, a hiatal hernia doesn't cause problems, but a large hiatal hernia can allow food and acid to back up into your esophagus, leading to heartburn.
Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk and milk products. Lactose intolerance is caused by a deficiency of the enzyme lactase, which is produced by the cells lining the small intestine.
Acute pancreatitis is a condition characterized by abrupt inflammation of the pancreas characterized by swelling and at times even destruction of pancreatic tissue. The most common causes of acute pancreatitis are gallstones and excessive alcohol consumption. Other causes include smoking, high triglyceride levels, high calcium levels, certain medications, abdominal trauma, viral infections, structural anatomic anomalies, and genetic abnormalities. Chronic pancreatitis occurs when there is irreversible scar tissue that forms in the pancreas as a result of ongoing inflammation. Chronic pancreatitis can lead to impaired digestion of food and diabetes mellitus.
Peptic Ulcer Disease
An “ulcer” is an open sore. The word “peptic” means that the cause of the problem is due to acid. Most of the time when a gastroenterologist is referring to an “ulcer” the doctor means a peptic ulcer.
The two most common types of peptic ulcers are called “gastric ulcers” and “duodenal ulcers”. These names refer to the location where the ulcer is found.
Lower GI Tract
C. diff (also known as Clostridioides difficile or C. difficile) is a germ (bacterium) that causes severe diarrhea and colitis (inflammation of the colon).
According to the Centers for Disease Control, C. Diff is estimated to cause almost half a million infections in the United States each year.
The agency says about 1 in 6 patients who get C. diff will get it again in the subsequent 2-8 weeks and one in 11 people over age 65 diagnosed with a healthcare-associated C. diff infection die within one month.
A colon polyp is a small growth on the inner lining of the large intestine, some of which can progress into cancer. Polyps may be scattered throughout the colon and vary in size from a few millimeters to several centimeters. Polyps may have a flat or raised appearance. When raised they can resemble small bumps (called sessile), or even grow on short stalks (called pedunculated), resembling a mushroom or small cauliflower.
For many people, constipation means too much straining with bowel movements, passage of small hard stools or a sense that they have not completely emptied their bowels. Constipation occurs when bowel movements become less frequent or difficult.
Crohn’s disease (CD) belongs to a group of diseases collectively called Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) which also includes Ulcerative Colitis (UC). It is a chronic disease that can cause inflammation anywhere from the mouth to the anus anywhere along the lining of the digestive tract. It most commonly affects the small intestine and the colon. The disease can show up along different parts of the digestive tract in a continuous or patchy distribution. It typically involves both the superficial and deep layers of the intestinal wall.
- American College of Gastroenterology: Crohn's Overview »
- UpToDate: Crohn's Disease - Beyond the Basics »
- Crohn's & Colitis Foundation: What is Crohn's? »
- Crohn's & Colitis Foundation: FREE Educational Brochures »
Diarrheal stools are those that take shape of the container, so they are often described as loose or watery. Some people consider diarrhea as an increase in the number of stools, but stool consistency is really the hallmark. Associated symptoms can include abdominal cramps fever, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and urgency. Chronic diarrhea can be accompanied by weight loss, malnutrition, abdominal pain, or other symptoms of the underlying illness.
Diverticulosis refers to the presence of small outpouchings (called diverticula) or sacs that can develop in the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. When a diverticulum becomes infected, this is what is known as diverticulitis.
Hemorrhoids are blood vessels (veins) in the anal canal. When those blood vessels become swollen or dilated, symptoms may develop. Many people have hemorrhoids but have no symptoms.
External hemorrhoids may be present and cause no symptoms. When they cause symptoms, the most common are pain, itching, pressure, and bleeding; they can often be felt as a bulge in the skin near the anal opening.
Internal hemorrhoids may be present and cause no symptoms. When they cause symptoms, the most common are painless rectal bleeding, which usually is seen as bright red blood on the toilet paper or in the toilet bowl. It is important to know that just a few drops of blood in toilet water can change the color of the water dramatically.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder of the intestines that leads to crampy pain, gassiness, bloating, and changes in bowel habits. Some people with IBS have constipation (difficult or infrequent bowel movements), others have diarrhea (frequent loose stools, often with an urgent need to move the bowels) and some people experience both.
Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a disease marked by inflammation of the lining of the colon and rectum, together known as the large intestine. This inflammation causes irritation in the lining of the large intestine, which leads to the symptoms of UC. Though UC always affects the lowest part of the large intestine (the rectum), in some patients it can be present throughout the entire colon.
Autoimmune hepatitis is a disease in which the body's immune system attacks liver cells. This immune response causes inflammation of the liver, also called hepatitis.
Cirrhosis of the liver refers to scarring of the liver which results in abnormal liver function as a consequence of chronic (long-term) liver injury.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a very common disorder and refers to a group of conditions where there is an accumulation of excess fat in the liver of people who drink little or no alcohol. The most common form of NAFLD is a non-serious condition called fatty liver. In fatty liver, fat accumulates in the liver cells. Although having fat in the liver is not normal, by itself it probably does not damage the liver. A small group of people with NAFLD may have a more serious condition named non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). In NASH, fat accumulation is associated with liver cell inflammation and different degrees of scarring. NASH is a potentially serious condition that may lead to severe liver scarring and cirrhosis.
What is NASH?
Hemochromatosis is a common form of iron overload disease. Primary hemochromatosis is an inherited disease. Secondary hemochromatosis is caused by alcoholism, anemia, and other disorders. This extra iron is toxic to the body and can damage organs, lead to illness, or even death.
Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with the Hepatitis A virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. Hepatitis A is usually spread when a person ingests fecal matter — even in microscopic amounts — from contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by the feces, or stool, of an infected person.
Hepatitis B is a liver infection caused by the Hepatitis B virus (HBV). Hepatitis B is transmitted when blood, semen, or another body fluid from a person infected with the Hepatitis B virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. This can happen through sexual contact; sharing needles, syringes, or other drug-injection equipment; or from mother to baby at birth. For some people, hepatitis B is an acute, or short-term, illness but for others, it can become a long-term, chronic infection. Risk for chronic infection is related to age at infection: approximately 90% of infected infants become chronically infected, compared with 2%–6% of adults. Chronic Hepatitis B can lead to serious health issues, like cirrhosis or liver cancer. The best way to prevent Hepatitis B is by getting vaccinated.
Hepatitis C is a contagious liver disease that ranges in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness that attacks the liver. It results from infection with the Hepatitis C virus (HCV), which is spread primarily through contact with the blood of an infected person. Hepatitis C can be either “acute” or “chronic.”
Acute Hepatitis C virus infection is a short-term illness that occurs within the first 6 months after someone is exposed to the Hepatitis C virus. For most people, acute infection leads to chronic infection.
Chronic Hepatitis C virus infection is a long-term illness that occurs when the Hepatitis C virus remains in a person’s body. Hepatitis C virus infection can last a lifetime and lead to serious liver problems, including cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) or liver cancer.
University Gastroenterology's Liver Team Discusses Hepatitis C
Primary Biliary Cholangitis (PBC)
Primary Biliary Cholangitis (PBC) is a chronic liver disease that is characterized by inflammation and progressive destruction of the bile ducts. PBC is usually diagnosed in patients between the ages of 35 to 60 years. About 90 to 95 percent of patients are women. Liver inflammation over a long period of time may cause scarring which leads to cirrhosis.
Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis
Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC) is a disease that damages and blocks bile ducts inside and outside the liver. Bile is a liquid made in the liver. Bile ducts carry bile out of the liver to the gallbladder and small intestine. In the intestine, bile helps break down the fat in food. The majority of patients with PSC have no symptoms at all. However, some patients complain of tiredness, itching or diarrhea. Fevers, chills, jaundice (yellow discoloration of the eyes and skin) and abdominal pain may occur in some patients.