Energy is the most important aspect of running our body smoothly. This energy comes from catabolism of the nutrients we eat by our digestive system.
The digestive system refers to the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon, rectum, pancreas, gallbladder, bile ducts, and liver. Any interference with the digestive system means our body will not get enough nutrients for energy, growth, and cell repair.
So similar to other bodily problems, our digestive system also demands care from an expert: i.e., a gastroenterologist. A gastroenterologist is a medical doctor specializing in diagnosing and treating conditions affecting the structures and organs of our digestive tract.
Let’s talk about some of the many conditions a gastroenterologist can treat.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
This is a condition in which stomach acid frequently flows back to your food pipe (esophagus), connecting the stomach with your mouth. The stomach acid that flows back can irritate the lining of your food pipe.
You may occasionally experience gastroesophageal reflux or acid reflux, but when you experience persistent acid reflux for two weeks, a gastroenterologist diagnoses it as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Heartburn (burning sensation in the chest), chest pain, difficulty swallowing, and regurgitation of food are some of the most common signs of GERD.
Commonly a gastroenterologist treats GERD with medications, such as antacids (neutralize stomach acids), H-2 receptor blockers (reduce acid production), PPIs (proton pump inhibitors that work by inhibiting acid production), and other medications that strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter. Usually, GERD gets better with medication; however, surgery may also be performed when remedies fail.
Colon cancer usually begins if the small, noncancerous polyps in the colon develop into colon cancer over time.
Colorectal cancer is a term used to describe the co-occurrence of both colon cancer and rectal cancer. Regular screening for colorectal cancer can help identify and remove polyps before turning into cancer.
At an early stage of colon cancer, a gastroenterologist may remove polyps during colonoscopy or perform laparoscopic surgery (when polyps can’t be removed by colonoscopy).
Advanced colon cancer treatment involves partial colectomy (removing a part of the colon), lymph node removal, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and immunotherapy.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
This long-term functional digestive system problem results in persistent discomfort. IBS affects your large intestine and results in symptoms such as abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, diarrhea, and gas.
This chronic condition requires long-term management, which may include taking medications such as laxatives, anti-diarrheal drugs, anticholinergics, antidepressants, and pain medications. Your gastroenterologist may also recommend IBS-specific medications such as alosetron, eluxadoline, and more.
Dietary modifications include eliminating high-gas foods, glutens, and certain carbohydrates known as FODMAPs — fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols, from food.
This is a chronic digestive and autoimmune disease in which the immune system reacts to gluten (a group of proteins found in cereals) and causes inflammation in the gut. When your gut is repeatedly exposed to gluten, the small intestine gets damaged, compromising the absorbance of minerals and nutrients.
Diarrhea, weight loss, fatigues, abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, nausea, and vomiting are the common signs and symptoms of celiac disease.
A gastroenterologist recommends medication to control gut inflammation and other symptoms, along with dietary modifications.
Other Condition Gastroenterologist Treats
Some other conditions that a gastroenterologist treats include:
- Gallbladder disease
- Peptic ulcer
Gastroenterologist in West Orange, NJ
If you are experiencing a GI problem, don’t hesitate to contact our GI doctors at Hudson MD Group. Our highly skilled and experienced GI doctors on staff will conduct a thorough evaluation to determine the cause of your GI symptoms and devise a care plan tailored to meet your GI needs.
For any inquiries or to schedule a consultation with one of our excellent gastroenterologists, call us today at (973) 705-4914.
We look forward to serving you!