- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Severe “heartburn” in laymen’s language. Weakness of the valve between the esophagus and stomach may allow stomach acid to reflux (regurgitate, backup) into the esophagus and irritate and inflame the lining. This results in chest pain which can mimic that of angina (pain of cardiac ischemia or an MI).
Literally means “yellow” in French. Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes from a backup of bile metabolic by-products from the blood into body tissues. May result from blockage of the ducts draining bile from the liver into the intestines or excessive breakdown of red blood cells. Hemoglobin from destroyed RBCs is broken down, and in part, ends up in bile secretions.
- Portal hypertension
A potential complication of chronic alcoholism resulting in liver damage and obstruction of venous blood flow through the liver. The rising blood pressure in the veins between the gastrointestinal tract and liver causes engorgement of veins around the umbilicus (navel). The characteristic radiating pattern of veins is called a “caput medusae” (head of Medusa). Medusa was the “snake-haired lady” in Greek mythology.
Inflammation of the lining of the abdominal cavity. Before antibiotics, people would die from peritonitis if an inflamed appendix burst. Indications of peritonitis are called “peritoneal signs”: tender abdomen, rebound pain (pain when manual pressure released from examining abdomen), board-like rigidity of abdominal muscles, no bowel sounds (gurgles). The peritoneal membrane is very sensitive to exposure to foreign substances. Contact with blood, bile, urine, pus will cause peritoneal signs.
Gallstones are pieces of solid material that form in the gallbladder. These stones develop because cholesterol and pigments in bile sometimes form hard particles. Several factors may come together to create gallstones, including: genetics, body weight, decreased motility (movement) of the gallbladder and diet. Gallstones can form when there is an imbalance in the substances that make up bile. For instance, cholesterol stones may develop as a result of too much cholesterol in the bile. Another cause may be the inability of the gallbladder to empty properly. Pigment stones are more common in people with certain medical conditions, such as cirrhosis (a liver disease in which scar tissue replaces healthy liver tissue) or blood diseases such as sickle cell anemia. The two main types of gallstones are:
- a. Cholesterol stones: Usually yellow-green in color, approximately 80% of gallstones are cholesterol stones.
- b. Pigment stones: These stones are smaller and darker and are made up of bilirubin.
6. Blood in Stool
Blood in the stool means there is bleeding somewhere in your digestive tract. Sometimes the amount of blood is so small that it can only be detected by a fecal occult test (which checks for hidden blood in the stool). At other times it may visible on toilet tissue or in the toilet after a bowel movement as bright red blood. Bleeding that happens higher up in the digestive tract may make stool appear black and tarry. Possible causes of blood in stool include:
- Diverticular disease.Diverticula are small pouches that project from the colon Usually diverticula don’t cause problems, but sometimes they can bleed or become infected.
- Anal fissure. A small cut or tear in the tissue lining the anus similar to the cracks that occur in chapped lips or a paper cut. Fissures are often caused by passing a large, hard stool and can be painful.
- Colitis. Inflammation of the colon. Among the more common causes are infections or inflammatory bowel disease.
- A condition in which fragile, abnormal blood vessels lead to bleeding.
- Peptic ulcers. An open sore in the lining of the stomach or duodenum, the upper end of the small intestine. Many peptic ulcers are caused by infection with a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori ( pylori). Long-term use or high doses of anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen can also cause ulcers.
- Polyps orcancer . Polyps are benign growths that can grow, bleed, and become cancerous. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the U.S. It often causes bleeding that is not noticeable with the naked eye.
- Esophageal problems.Varicose veins of the esophagus or tears in the esophagus can lead to severe blood loss
Diarrhea describes bowel movements (stools) that are loose and watery. It is very common and usually not serious. Many people will have diarrhea once or twice each year. It typically lasts two to three days and can be treated with over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. Some people have diarrhea often as part of irritable bowel syndrome or other chronic diseases of the large intestine.
The most common cause of diarrhea is a virus that infects the gut. The infection usually lasts for two days and is sometimes called “intestinal flu” or “stomach flu.” Diarrhea may also be caused by Infection by bacteria (the cause of most types of food poisoning), Infections by other organisms, Eating foods that upset the digestive system, Allergies to certain foods, Medications, Radiation therapy, Diseases of the intestines (Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis), Malabsorption (where the body is unable to adequately absorb certain nutrients from the diet), Hyperthyroidism, Some cancers, Laxative abuse, Alcohol abuse, Digestive tract surgery, Diabetes, Competitive running. Doctors classify diarrhea as “osmotic,” “secretory,” or “exudative.”
- Osmotic diarrhea means that something in the bowel is drawing water from the body into the bowel. A common example of this is “dietetic candy” or “chewing gum” diarrhea, in which a sugar substitute, such as sorbitol, is not absorbed by the body but draws water from the body into the bowel, resulting in diarrhea.
- Secretory diarrhea occurs when the body is releasing water into the bowel when it’s not supposed to. Many infections, drugs, and other conditions cause secretory diarrhea.
- Exudative diarrhea refers to the presence of blood and pus in the stool. This occurs with inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, and several infections
Constipation occurs when bowel movements become difficult or less frequent. The normal length of time between bowel movements ranges widely from person to person. Some people have bowel movements three times a day; others, only one or two times a week. Going longer than three days without a bowel movement is too long. After three days, the stool or feces become harder and more difficult to pass. Constipation is usually caused by a disorder of bowel function rather than a structural problem. Common causes of constipation include: Inadequate water intake, Inadequate fiber in the diet, A disruption of regular diet or routine; traveling, Inadequate activity or exercise or immobility, Eating large amounts of dairy products, Stress, Resisting the urge to have a bowel movement, which is sometimes the result of pain from hemorrhoids, Overuse of laxatives (stool softeners) which, over time, weaken the bowel muscles, Hypothyroidism, Neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis, Antacid medicines containing calcium or aluminum, Medicines (especially strong pain medicines, such as narcotics, antidepressants, or iron pills), Depression, Eating disorders, Irritable bowel syndrome, Pregnancy and Colon cancer.