Do I Need Surgery? 3 Common Gastrointestinal Diseases

The Power Of The Gut

The gastrointestinal tract or GI tract is an integral part of the body. Most gastrointestinal disease happens in the GI tract. The GI tract takes food through the body, starting from the mouth. The nutrients are then extracted, then absorbed with the waste products excreted. The GI tract consists of the esophagus, stomach, and intestines, and is just one part of the entire digestive system.

Prone to disease

The gastrointestinal tract is a sensitive structure. Within the organs are trillions of bacteria that help with digestion, metabolism, and even immune health. Sometimes, the GI tract experiences changes that can cause a range of diseases. Here are 3 common conditions that cause millions of hospital visits every year. More importantly, persons should know if these diseases need surgery.

1. Got some GERD?

The upper part of the GI tract, mainly the esophagus and stomach, is prone to several diseases. The most common is GERD or gastrointestinal reflux disease. Studies estimate that GERD possibly affects up to 27% of Americans. The stomach has acid, which is responsible for breaking down food. GERD happens if the stomach acid continually flows into the esophagus.

Symptoms, treatment, and surgery

Persons with GERD experience heartburn, coughing, chest pain, and difficulty swallowing. GERD can especially affect persons at night, disturbing sleep and causing sleep-related conditions. If left untreated, the stomach acids can eat away at the lining of the esophagus. In most cases, a doctor will prescribe medications to reduce and block acid from affecting the esophagus. If medicine fails, surgery will be needed. The surgeon will use minimally invasive techniques to tighten the esophagus or to install a device to keep the opening closed. Surgery is a safe option to reduce GERD, with a 98% success rate.

2. A sore stomach with PUD

Peptic ulcer disease (PUD) happens when small sores or ulcers form in the stomach or duodenum. The stomach has a durable lining to protect from stomach acids and bacteria. Yet, there are times when the stomach lining gets damaged. Stomach acids and bacteria can then create sores on the stomach. Persons with stomach ulcers typically have nausea and vomiting, stomach pain, and heartburn. Severe cases could cause bleeding, which can present as dark stool and sudden weight loss.

Treating those ulcers

Persons who frequently smoke, consume alcohol, or use NSAIDs are at risk for PUD. Medication and lifestyle changes can treat these ulcers. Advancements in technology and science created drugs that can reduce stomach acid, allowing the stomach to heal. Typically, only emergency cases require surgery. Speak with a doctor about symptoms and possible treatment options.

3. An irritated bowel

Along with GERD, IBS is one of the more common GI disorders. Known as irritable bowel syndrome, the condition affects more than 10% of Americans. IBS is often confused with IBD, which is inflammation of the intestines. Put simply, IBS is a range of symptoms that indicate an underlying issue in the gut or stomach. Persons with IBS frequently get stomach cramps, diarrhea, constipation, and urgent bowel movements. Doctors often need a series of tests and information to diagnose IBS accurately. There is a range of medications, diets, and lifestyle changes to treat IBS. IBS rarely requires surgery.

Take good care of your gut.

Gastrointestinal diseases could be debilitating if left unchecked. Fortunately, not all conditions need surgery. Some conditions like GERD can be treated with minimally invasive procedures. GI diseases have clear, consistent symptoms. If any of these symptoms show up, speak with a doctor immediately.


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