What Does Gastroenterology Treatment Mean?
The branch of general medicine dealing with the study and ailments of the digestive tract, also called as the alimentary canal extending from the mouth to the anus is called as gastroenterology. It begins from the mouth, extends to the pharynx, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine and anus and basically helps in the digestion of food as it passes through these organs and eventually the excretion of waste products. Team MedcureIndia gives brief information related to the subject in the following lines.
Causes Of Gastroenterology Diseases:
These are a diverse group of single and multiple factors leading to GIT disorders.
- Dietary factors include excessive alcohol and smoking which may cause gastric ulcers , not including enough fibers and water in diet causing constipation, over eating, intolerance to milk and milk products leading to lactose intolerance
- Consumption of contaminated food (bacteria/virus/fungus/parasites) and water causes diarrhea, dehydration, cholera and dysentery.
- Auto-immune disorders, in which the body produces cells to destroy its own tissues canal also attack the cells of the GIT
- A structural anomaly such as an ulcer or a diverticulum also lead to abnormality of the gut
- Certain diseases of the gastrointestinal tract may have a genetic/hereditary cause e.g cystic fibrosis, hypothyroidism, colonic cancer
- Certain medications can have side effects on the GIT in the form of ulcerations, GIT irritation, acidity, nausea
- An uncontrolled growth of cells, called as cancer may also affect the alimentary canal leading to obstruction of the normal functioning
Signs & Symptoms Of Gastroenterology Diseases:
- Nausea, vomiting, mild to high grade fever
- Acid reflux, heart burn
- Indigestion, watery motions, loose stools
- Constipation, bloating, belching, flatulence
- Pain and discomfort in the abdomen
- Bleeding in the stools due to internal bleeding
Diagnostic Tests For Gastroenterology Diseases:
- Fecal occult blood test: It is a test intended for the study of blood in stools. A small sample of stool is placed on a special card and examined for the presence of blood.
- Stool culture: It is a procedure done to identify the number and type of bacteria present in the stools. The sample is collected, preserved in a media favoring growth of the bacteria for 2-3 days and then studies for the number and type of bacteria.
- Barium beefsteak meal/barium enema: During this test, patient is asked to eat a meal containing barium which is a chalky metallic liquid used to coat the inside of the organs. Once the meal is over, x-ray of the GIT is taken to check for pathologies where barium has deposited and gives a clear picture on the image.
- Colorectal transit study: It is done to examine how well the food passes through the colon. Patient is asked to swallow capsules containing dyes and maintain a high fibre diet for 3 to 5 days. The movement of the markers through the colon is monitored with abdominal X-rays taken several times 3 to 7 days after the capsule is swallowed.
- Computed tomography CT and magnetic resonance imaging MRI clubbed with ultrasonography USG: It is majorly used to study the presence of tumors and curvatures, strictures and blockages in the GIT
- Defecography: It is an x-ray of the anal rectal area which examines the completeness of stool elimination, anal rectal abnormalities. It also monitors the contractions and relaxations of rectal muscles. As a part of the examination, a soft paste with the same consistency as that of stools in inserted in the rectum and the patient is asked to expel it while in the x-ray machine. The radiologist studies the X-rays to determine if anal rectal problems happened while the patient was emptying the paste from the rectum.
- MRI cholangiopancreatography: It is primarily done to study the course and obstruction of bile ducts.
- Colonoscopy: It is done to study the length of colon, its curvatures , any abnormal growth, ulcers. A long tube with light at one end called colonoscope is used for this purpose and inserted through the rectum into the colon.
- Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP): A long lighted tube called endoscope is inserted into the pharynx, esophagus and eventually in the stomach, gall bladder. At the same time a x-ray is also being taken which helps in diagnosing any abnormality along the course of the endoscope.
- Sigmoidoscopy: It is done exclusively for the large intestine, using a sigmoidoscope with a procedure similar to colonoscopy.
- Manometry tests: These tests are run to evaluate the contractions and relaxations of the smooth muscles of the GIT such as esophagus and anal rectal areas and the sphincters associated with them. This test helps determine the strength of the muscles in the rectum and anus.
Types Of Gastroenterology Disorders:
These are the disorders of the esophagus, stomach, small and large intestines, gall bladder and the rectum/anus. They are as follows:
- Gastro esophageal reflux disease GERD: It is quite a common condition in which acid from the stomach goes up into the food pipe which is the esophagus, often called as acid reflux. It causes mild to severe heart burn, discomfort in the chest and food pipe. It mostly occurs at night, after consumption of spicy food, may cause burping belching and bad mouth odours.
- Gallstones: These are small mineral deposits in the gall bladder which secretes bile for the digestion of. When gallstones block the ducts leading from gallbladder to intestines, they can cause sharp pain in upper-right abdomen.
- Celiac Disease: It is a serious sensitivity to gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. Gluten sensitivity will damage the intestinal villi which are finger-like protrusions that help in absorbing nutrients from the foods eaten. It causes severe pain and cramps in the abdomen with fever, constipation, nausea and vomiting.
- Crohn’s disease: It is part of a group of digestive conditions called inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It most commonly affects the terminal ileum, but can also affect any part of the GIT. Its cause is attributed to genetic and hereditary influence.
- Ulcerative colitis: it is yet another inflammatory bowel disease with symptoms similar to crohn’s disease but majorly involving the large intestine. If the immune system mistakes food or other materials for invaders, sores or ulcers develop in the colon’s lining.
- Irritable bowel syndrome IBS: It is a common GIT disordered condition with variable symptoms but no particular diagnosis. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), another common digestive condition. The patient can be constipated or have diarrhea, or have hard, dry stools on one day and loose watery stools on another, bloating is also a symptom of IBS.
- Hemorrhoids: Bright red blood in stools could be a sign of hemorrhoids. They are an inflammation of the blood vessels at the end of digestive tract, can be painful and itchy. It may be caused due to chronic constipation, diarrhea, straining during bowel movements, and a lack of fiber in the diet
- Diverticulitis: These are small pouches called diverticula which can appear anywhere along the GIT, most commonly seen with the colon. Symptoms include fever and abdominal pain, with obesity as a major factor contributing to it.
- Anal fissures: These are tiny, oval shaped tears in the lining of the anus. The symptoms are similar to those of hemorrhoids, such as bleeding and pain after moving bowels. Straining and hard bowel movements can cause fissures, but so can soft stools and diarrhea.
Treatment Of Gastroenterology Disorders:
A wide range of treatment options are available for the versatile nature of the GIT diseases. These are as follows:
- Motivation for lifestyle changes: Patient is asked to quit smoking and limit alcohol, eat a healthy diet and begin working out with some light exercises.
- Antacids for acid reflux and heart burn
- Laxatives for constipation
- Anti peptidases for peptic/gastric ulcers
- Antimicrobials for diarrhea, cholera and dysentery
- Antispasmodics for abdominal cramps
- Hospitalization: Some conditions require stabilization, IV fluids, stomach draining and assessment at the hospital.
- Surgery: For severe cases where the GI tract has been damaged or needs repair, surgery can remove cancerous or dead tissue as for example hemorrhoids, ulcers
- Radiation / chemotherapy: These are mostly used for cancers of the GIT, depending upon the stage, type and severity of the cancer.
Complications & Risk Factors Associated With Gastroenterology Diseases:
- Chronic smoking and alcohol tend to worsen the GIT problems
- Obesity hampers the general healing and effect of medications
- Hypertension and high diabetes results in delaying the surgical protocol for appendix removal, ulcer management.
Success Rate In India:
Success rate with the medications is 99 percent with a percent chance of side effects, relapse however does not occur. Surgical management shows a good 80 percent with stomach cancers with a little chance of recurrence.
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