A small tear in the lining of the anus, frequently caused by constipation.   A hard, dry bowel movement results in a break in the tissue.  However, fissures can also occur with severe bouts of diarrhea, inflammation, childbirth, or by abuse of laxatives.

A localized pocket of pus caused by a bacterial infection in the underlying tissues of the anal canal, which can cause tenderness, swelling, and pain.  Certain conditions, such as Crohn’s disease (chronic inflammatory bowel disease), can increase the risk of abscess in and around the anal canal.

A tiny channel or tract that develops in the presence of inflammation and infection, and may be associated with an abscess.  The channel usually runs from the rectum to an opening in the skin around the anus, but the opening may develop elsewhere in the body, such as in the vagina or bladder. Certain illnesses such as Crohn’s disease can cause fistulas to develop.  An abscess and fistula often occur together.

A low red blood cell count or not enough red cells in the body.  Symptoms include fatigue, drowsiness, or even shortness of breath on exertion.

A specific type of hepatitis where the body produces antibodies causing the immune system to attack the liver.  Autoimmune hepatitis is not caused by a virus or bacteria, so it is not a contagious disease.  Exactly what triggers the immune system against the liver is unknown.  The inflammation is usually chronic, and without treatment it can cause serious injury to the liver.  Early symptoms are the same as those for most types of hepatitis: fatigue, abdominal discomfort, and aching joints.

The process used to clean the colon of food and feces with enemas and/or a special drink. Used before surgery of the colon, colonoscopy, or barium x-ray.

The abnormal growth of intestinal-type cells in the esophagus, generally associated with GERD, potentially developing into cancer of the lower esophagus, known as adenocarcinoma, or dysplasia.

A genetic condition that damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing parts of food that are important for staying healthy. The damage is due to a reaction to eating gluten, causing irritability, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, weight loss, and anemia.

Scar tissue in the liver that distorts the normal structure and regrowth of liver cells, causing the flow of blood through the liver from the intestine to be blocked and major functions of the liver to be impaired.

An overgrowth of tissue that found inside the large intestine or colon. Most polyps are not dangerous. However, some polyps may turn into cancer or already be cancer. To be safe, doctors remove polyps and test them. Polyps can be removed when a doctor examines the inside of the large intestine during a colonoscopy.

Cancer of the colon or rectum is also called colorectal cancer. Caught early, it is often curable. Symptoms can include blood in the stool, narrower stools, a change in bowel habits, or general stomach discomfort. However, you may not have symptoms at first, so screening is important.

An analgesic used to induce a depressed level of consciousness that allows the patient to tolerate procedures while maintaining cardiac & respiratory functions on their own.

Constipation means that a person has three or fewer bowel movements in a week. The stool can be hard and dry. Sometimes it is painful to pass. At one time or another, almost everyone gets constipated. In most cases, it lasts a short time and is not serious.

Crohn’s Disease causes inflammation of the digestive system and is included in a group of diseases called inflammatory bowel disease. The disease can affect any area from the mouth to the anus, but often affects the lower part of the small intestine called the ileum. Crohn’s disease can run in families. It can occur in people of all age groups but is most often diagnosed in young adults. Common symptoms are pain in the abdomen and diarrhea. Bleeding from the rectum, weight loss, joint pain, skin problems, and fever may also occur.

Having loose, watery stools more than three times in one day, which may be accompanied by cramps, bloating, nausea and an urgent need to have a bowel movement.  Causes of diarrhea include bacteria, viruses or parasites, certain medicines, food intolerances and diseases that affect the stomach, small intestine, or colon. In many cases, no cause can be found.  Although usually not harmful, diarrhea can become dangerous or signal a more serious problem.

Small pouches that bulge outward through the colon, or large intestine. This condition becomes more common as people age and many believe the main cause is a low-fiber diet.  Most people with diverticulosis don’t have symptoms. Sometimes it causes mild cramps, bloating, or constipation. A high-fiber diet and mild pain reliever will often relieve symptoms.

An allergic condition causing inflammation of the esophagus. People with EoE have a larger than normal number of eosinophil, a type of white blood cell, in their esophagus.  Most research suggests that the leading cause of EoE is an allergy or a sensitivity to particular proteins found in foods. Many people with EoE have a family history of allergic disorders such as asthma, rhinitis, dermatitis, or food allergy.

Gallstones form when substances in bile harden and generally pain mayoccur after you eat resulting in a blockage in the flow of bile through the bile ducts. Signs of a gallstone may include nausea, vomiting, or pain in the abdomen, back, or just under the right arm.

Very swollen veins in the walls of the lower part of the esophagus that begin to bleed.

A general term for any inflammation, irritation, or swelling of the esophagus, caused by the backflow of acid-containing fluid from the stomach to the esophagus, a condition called gastroesophageal reflux.

A term used to describe an accumulation of fat in the liver which may indicate people who drink little or no alcohol. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is common and, for most people, causes no signs or symptoms and no complications.  For some, the fat that accumulates can cause inflammation and scarring in the liver. This more serious form of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is sometimes called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis.

Gallstones form when substances in bile harden and generally pain mayoccur after you eat resulting in a blockage in the flow of bile through the bile ducts. Signs of a gallstone may include nausea, vomiting, or pain in the abdomen, back, or just under the right arm.

Gas in the digestive tract (the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine) comes from two sources; swallowed air and the normal breakdown of undigested foods in the large intestine, called the colon.  For most people, the signs and symptoms of gas and gas pain are the voluntary or involuntary passing of gas (either as belches or as flatus), pains or cramps in your abdomen, or swelling and tightness in your abdomen (bloating).

Typically occurs when a muscle at the end of your esophagus does not close properly, allowing stomach contents to leak back, or reflux, into the esophagus and irritate it.   Common symptoms are a burning in the chest or throat, called heartburn, or the taste of stomach fluid in the back of the mouth, called acid indigestion.

A digestive disorder in which the movement within the stomach is unable to contract normally and therefore cannot crush food nor propel food into the small intestine. The most common causes for gastroparesis include diabetes, infections, endocrine disorders, connective tissue disorders like scleroderma, autoimmune conditions, neuromuscular diseases, idiopathic (unknown) causes, cancer, radiation treatment applied over the chest or abdomen, some forms of chemotherapy, or surgery of the upper intestinal tract.

A painful burning feeling in your chest or throat that occurs when stomach acid backs up into your esophagus.

A bacteria, in the lining of your stomach or your duodenum, that can cause peptic ulcers and stomach inflammation (chronic gastritis).  The bacteria can weaken the protective coating of the stomach, allowing digestive juices to irritate the sensitive stomach lining.

A common genetic disease where too much iron builds up in your body.   The body stores excess iron in tissues of the liver, heart, and pancreas, causing damage to the organs and possibly organ failure.

Swollen, inflamed veins around the anus or lower rectum, often resulting from straining to have a bowel movement. Other factors include pregnancy, aging and chronic constipation or diarrhea.

Blood that passes from your anus, lower colon or rectum, which appears as blood in stool, on toilet paper, or in the toilet bowl. Rectal bleeding may occur for many reasons, including constipation and hemorrhoids.

Scarring or narrowing of the opening of the esophagus or other areas in the digestive tract causing difficulty swallowing and interference with food/liquids getting into the stomach.

A disease that causes ulcers in the lining of the rectum and colon. It is one of a group of diseases called inflammatory bowel disease. Ulcers form where inflammation has killed the cells that usually line the colon.  Ulcerative colitis can happen at any age, but it usually starts between the ages of 15 and 30. It tends to run in families. The most common symptoms are pain in the abdomen and bloody diarrhea. Other symptoms may include anemia, severe tiredness, weight loss, loss of appetite, bleeding from the rectum, sores on the skin and joint pain.

Note: the information in this section is provided as a supplement to information discussed with your healthcare provider.  It is not intended to serve as a complete description of a particular topic or substitute for a clinic visit.

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