Boost Your Digestive System Wellness

digestive wellness and health

5 Tips for Great Digestive Health

Digestive system wellness is linked to your overall health. Eating healthy foods with an unhealthy gut leaves you in the same position, as nutrients are not absorbed efficiently. This is why gut health is so important.

To understand more about digestive system health, and how you can improve it, continue reading.

The digestive system is composed of a variety of tubular organs running from the mouth through the stomach, small and large intestines up to the anus. The pancreas, liver and gall bladder are also part of the digestive system. The condition and health of each of these organs plays a part in a person’s digestive system wellness, as well as their overall health.

A properly functioning digestive system facilitates the intake of food, digestion and absorption of nutrients, and the excretion of solid waste. Cases of bloating, constipation and diarrhea among others are an indication of an unhealthy digestive system.

Read on to find out how you can boost digestive system wellness by following a few simple tips.

Drink Water Before Meals

It is recommended that you drink a glass of water about thirty minutes before each meal. The stomach contains a mucus lining that requires hydration to function properly. By drinking a glass of water you prompt the stomach to produce the mucus required to facilitate healthy and problem free digestion.

With the mucus lining in the stomach intact, digestion takes place without an increased risk of suffering the effects of heartburn.

Chew Food For Longer

The mouth represents the beginning of the digestive process; chewing food for longer helps boost proper digestion. First and foremost, chewing food facilitates the mechanical breakdown of food into small digestible particles. This makes it easier for stomach acids to digest the food, and boosts absorption of nutrients as well.

Additionally, saliva in the mouth contains important digestive enzymes. Chewing food for longer helps get the enzymes into the food, getting the digestive process started as soon as possible.

Remember To Feed The Good Gut Flora

The gut is home to a huge variety of bacteria, viruses and yeast. Some of the bacteria in the gut play a vital role in digestion. Stress, antibiotics, aging and even illness among others, can lead to the depletion of the healthy bacteria in your gut leaving the bad bacterial to wreak havoc.

It is therefore recommended that you consume fermented foods and supplements rich in probiotics. These probiotics are known to feed the healthy bacteria in the gut, and help increase them to healthy levels.

Exercise

Regular exercise also helps facilitate faster movement of digested food through the large intestines. This helps prevent the loss of water in the large intestines while encouraging healthy and regular bowel movements.

It is also important for you to ensure that you consume the right amount of fiber in your diet to improve gut health. Implementing all the above tips in your routine will help raise digestive system health to where it should be. Furthermore, you are bound to see improvements in your overall health with time.

Common Gastroenterology Procedures

digestive problem treatments

Digestive Disease Diagnostic Procedures and Treatments

There are several procedures that a gastroenterologist will make a patient undergo in order to determine what is causing digestive problems or to identify specific diseases and disorders. The following are among the most common.

Scans and Tests

An abdominal angiogram views the blood vessels in the abdomen. It checks blood flow in the stomach, liver and the spleen. It is used to treat stomach bleeding and some cancers. An ultrasound of the abdomen views the liver, pancreas, gallbladder, spleen, and kidneys to check the blood flow and to find any abnormalities in these organs.

X-rays are also sometimes used to check the intestines or the stomach and nearby tissues to find out causes of pain and discomfort. They are used if objects are suspected of having been swallowed or to find holes in the intestines.

A gastroenterologist will use barium enemas as tests to view the lower GI or gastrointestinal tract. This enema is used in conjunction with X-rays to view the entire large intestine and the rectum. The small intestines can be looked at using a procedure called magnetic resonance enterography. This imaging test can find problems like bleeding and inflammation.

A pancreas scan also looks for problems like tumors in the pancreas with the help of nuclear radiology.

A sigmoidoscopy is a test that is done to check the lower part of the colon or the sigmoid colon. This is the part of the colon that is near the rectum and the anus and it is done to find diseases and other issues in this part of the intestinal tract.

The upper gastrointestinal region is checked with the help of X-rays that are taken following the consumption of a special contrasting beverage. It will look at the esophagus, the stomach, and the small intestine. The upper GI endoscopy checks, diagnoses and treats any problems that are occurring in the upper GI tract.

A CT colonography or virtual colonoscopy is done to find polyps or other growths inside the colon. Polyps can sometimes develop into colon cancers so they are often removed after being detected.

Many of these procedures are routinely done to check intestinal health. Problems and other illnesses or diseases can be identified afterward and can be effectively treated.

Procedures and Surgeries

One of the most common gastroenterology procedures is the appendectomy. This is a form of surgery that removes an infected appendix. It treats appendicitis and is usually emergency surgery as the appendix is left alone at the right side of the abdomen unless it is the cause of severe pain and discomfort. A pediatric appendectomy is this same procedure done to a child.

A pediatric appendectomy is this same procedure done to a child.

A protectomy is a procedure that takes out some or all of the rectum.

A procedure that removes part of the stomach to reduce its size is called Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass surgery. This is done to limit the amount of food that an individual can consume and digest in the hopes of allowing them to lose large amounts of weight in a relatively short time.

What Are Common Gastroenterology Symptoms?

digestive system problems

Digestive Symptoms to Heed

Consider Seeing a Gastroenterologist

When you are experiencing gastrointestinal tract problems, it might be more than an uncomfortable issue.

In many cases, the symptoms that are being experienced are a signal that something is going wrong with the body. At times, it may be easy to remedy but at other times, the treatment may be more extensive. In order to properly diagnose, evaluate and manage any of those issues, you can call on a gastroenterologist, the type of doctor who specializes in diseases that affect the digestive system.

When You Experience. . .

When you experience any of the following digestive tract symptoms, it is best to consult such a specialist. They can rule out anything serious and offer a treatment option to care for the situation

  • Abdominal Pain or Discomfort – Although it is not abnormal to experience some stomach pain from time to time, any persistent or severe pain could be a sign of something serious.
  • Constipation or Diarrhea – This is often one of the first signs that are noticed when a digestive problem takes place. It is also an issue that can be caused by a wide variety of problems, including improper diet, dehydration and side effects from various medications.
  • Difficulty Swallowing – This problem can be a chronic issue but it could also come on suddenly. Aside from the discomfort you may experience, it could lead to additional issues if it is not treated properly.
  • Gastritis – This is a problem with inflammation of the digestive tract. It could be caused by many different problems, including some that are fairly simple to manage. It can also be an uncomfortable issue.
  • Hemorrhoids – Although this is a common problem, it is one that most people would rather do without. They can be either internal or external and when they are serious, surgery may be considered.
  • Ulcers – This is an issue that can take place in various places along the GI tract. They can be uncomfortable and could lead to a variety of other symptoms, depending on their severity and location.
  • Weight Loss – Many people attempt to lose weight, but when it takes place for no known reason, it can be a sign that something is going on in the body. This is also a problem that can be treated by a gastroenterologist.
  • Jaundice – This is a problem that can be a sign of liver disease.
  • Bleeding – When blood is detected in the stool it is a sign that should be checked into right away.
  • Heartburn – This may be a common problem but it is one that should be checked on by a specialist. Typically, a case of mild heartburn can be treated with antacids but if it is persistent, it may need to be looked into by a specialist.

These are some of the many different gastrointestinal symptoms you might experience. There may be times when they are mild and easy to treat but they could also be a sign of a more serious problem that needs attention right away.

Common Symptoms Of Gastroenterology Diseases

digestive diseases

Digestive Health Disease Symptoms

Are you frequently experiencing stomach or intestinal problems? It is possible you have one of the many gastroenterology diseases and need to see a specialist.

Gastroenterologists specialize in diseases that affect the digestive organs of the body. This includes every organ beginning at the mouth all the way to the anus. The digestive tract includes the small and large intestines, the stomach, and the esophagus. When you experience ongoing digestive health issues, it is a good idea to make an appointment to discuss your concerns with a gastroenterologist. This physician can evaluate your condition, diagnose any problems and then recommend the correct treatment.

There are many symptoms of gastroenterology conditions, but the three most common are heartburn, diarrhea and abdominal pain and constipation. If you have any of these conditions for more than a few days, you should make an appointment with your doctor.

Heartburn

Heartburn is very common, especially following a spicy or fried meal. Heartburn is characterized by a burning feeling that comes up from your stomach and settles under your sternum or reaches into your throat. If you experience this condition frequently you may have acid reflux which is a gastrointestinal disease. Sometimes, the burning sensation is accompanied by difficulty swallowing or a dry cough.

Acid Reflux

If left untreated, acid reflux can result in damage to your esophagus and cause you to develop an ulcer. In some extreme cases, acid reflux can cause cancer. Most of the time, this condition can be treated with medications. In very serious circumstances, a gastroenterologist may recommend surgery to tighten the muscles between the stomach and the esophagus so the acid cannot escape the stomach.

Diarrhea and Abdominal Pain

Other frequent symptoms of gastrointestinal issues are diarrhea and abdominal pain. If you are experiencing either of these, they could be symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease or IBD. This is a serious gastrointestinal disease which should be treated as quickly as possible. Two of the most common types of IBD are ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Individuals who have IBD may also experience rectal bleeding and weight loss. Your doctor can diagnose these conditions by running a series of lab tests. If the results are positive, you will most likely be placed on a regimen of medications that will include immunosuppressant drugs and anti-inflammatories.

If you have persistent abdominal pain, you could also have a peptic ulcer. This type of ulcer forms in the upper part of the intestine or in the lining of the stomach. It may be caused by excessive smoking or use of alcohol. Taking too many NSAIDs can also cause an ulcer and sometimes, they are caused by bad bacteria. If you are diagnosed with an ulcer, the doctor will prescribe antibiotics. If these don’t clear it up, surgery may be required.

Constipation

Another possible gastrointestinal disorder is chronic constipation. This is a common problem and can usually be treated with laxatives. It is important not to take too many laxatives since this can cause other types of medical conditions.

Gastroenterology diseases affect the digestive system. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, you should make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.

What Does a Gastroenterologist Do On Your First Visit?

first gastroenterologist visit

What to Expect on the Initial Visit

Gastroenterologists are board certified, highly trained specialists that are expected to complete four years of training at medical school, three years in a residency, and then a fellowship that can last between two and four years. There are general gastroenterologists, and then there are others that specialize in a particular part of the digestive system such as the esophagus or the liver.

A gastroenterologist can diagnose and examine, but they do not perform surgery, there are other specialists for that. Usually, you will be referred to a gastroenterologist by your GP. They will send you there if you have GI symptoms that have lasted for a long time and that have not responded to diet changes or to basic treatments.

Establishing History

Your first visit will likely involve being asked a lot of questions about your medical history. You may have been given a questionnaire to fill out. This is to establish a medical history of you and your family, so that they can get an idea of any health issues that you may be more likely to suffer from or that are known to run in the family.

You may see a nurse before the specialist. They will do a basic exam, checking things like your heart rate and blood pressure. After that, the gastroenterologist will then double check the details in your medical history and ask any appropriate questions about medication, allergies or symptoms. Before you are given a full test you will be examined. You may need a motility test, an x-ray, or a GI procedure. In some cases, endoscopies or other procedures may be performed.

The first visit could take up to one hour, depending on the kind of tests that are carried out. It is important that the specialist can get a full profile of you so that they know what treatments to suggest for the future. You may need medication, or extra care. If you need a full GI endoscopic procedure and the specialist at the facility cannot do it, they will book one at a different clinic for you. Often, these can be scheduled for the same day and transport can be arranged for you.

Follow-up Visits

A single visit will not resolve the issue; you will need to book another appointment, or more than one, as a follow-up. The follow-up appointments are typically much shorter than the initial one as there are fewer details needed.

You will be advised if you are going to need detailed exams or procedures. You will be told if you need to limit your food intake or not drink anything, or avoid taking certain medication before you come to the clinic. Be sure to follow these instructions, because you will find that if you do not follow them, the results of the tests could be invalid and in some cases you could be putting your health in danger. There are good reasons for the instructions regarding food intake, as frustrating as they can be.