Diseases of the Gastrointestinal Tract Explained by Dr. Harsh Sheth, a bariatric surgeon from Mumbai.

Some conditions show no abnormalities when the GI tract is examined, but symptoms persist.

According to Dr. Harsh Sheth, an excellent bariatric surgeon from Mumbai, Gastrointestinal diseases include:

  • GERD
  • Diarrhea
  • Colorectal cancer

Other diseases have symptoms, and there are visible GI tract irregularities.

The majority of gastrointestinal problems can be avoided or treated.

What are the different types of gastrointestinal diseases?

“The gastrointestinal (GI) tract, which ranges from the mouth to the anus, is influenced by gastrointestinal disorders,” says Dr. Harsh Sheth, Mumbai’s leading bariatric surgeon.  

Additionally, here are some examples:

  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Food poisoning
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Diarrhea

Functional and structural are the two types.

What are functional gastrointestinal diseases?

It appears normal when the GI tract is examined but not moving correctly. These are known as functional diseases.

They are the most common gastrointestinal issues (including the colon and rectum).

According to Dr. Harsh Sheth, an expert bariatric surgeon from Mumbai, typical examples are: 

  • Constipation 
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) 
  • Nausea 
  • Food poisoning 
  • Gas 
  • Bloating 
  • GERD 
  • Diarrhea

Many things can wreak havoc on your GI tract’s motility (ability to keep moving), including:

  • Eating a diet low in fiber.
  • Not getting enough exercise.
  • Traveling or other changes in routine.
  • Eating large amounts of dairy products.
  • Stress.
  • Resisting the urge to have a bowel movement, possibly because of hemorrhoids.
  • Overusing anti-diarrheal medications that, over time, weaken the bowel muscle movements called motility.
  • Taking antacid medicines containing calcium or aluminum.
  • Take certain medicines (especially antidepressants, iron pills, and intense pain medicines such as narcotics).
  • Pregnancy.

What are gastrointestinal structural diseases?

The term “structural gastrointestinal diseases” refers to conditions in which your bowel appears abnormal and does not function properly.

The following are examples of structural GI diseases:

  • Strictures 
  • Stenosis 
  • Hemorrhoids 
  • Diverticular disease 
  • Colon polyps 
  • Colon cancer 
  • Inflammatory bowel disease 

Surgical removal of the structural abnormality is sometimes required.

Constipation

According to Dr. Harsh Sheth, an amazing bariatric surgeon from Mumbai, constipation is a functional problem in which you have: 

  • a bowel movement (or pass stools)
  • your stools are infrequent (less than three times per week)
  • your stools are incomplete

Constipation is most commonly caused by a lack of “roughage” or fiber in your diet, as well as a change in your routine or diet.

During a bowel movement, constipation causes you to strain. It can result in small, hard stools and anal issues like fissures and hemorrhoids.

Constipation is rarely a sign of a more serious medical problem.

You can get rid of constipation by doing the following:

  • Increasing the amount of fiber and water in your diet.
  • Exercising regularly and increasing the intensity of your exercises as tolerated.
  • Moving your bowels when you have the urge (resisting the urge causes constipation).

Laxatives can be added if these treatment methods do not work. Always follow the laxative medicine’s instructions and your healthcare provider’s advice.

Remember that your colon cancer screening should be kept up to date.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome is also known as: 

  • Irritable colon
  • Spastic colon 
  • IBS 
  • Nervous stomach

It is a functional condition in which the muscles of your colon contract more or less frequently than “normal.”

IBS can be triggered by certain foods, medications, and emotional stress, among other things.

Symptoms of IBS include:

  • Bloating.
  • Abdominal pain and cramps.
  • Excess gas.
  • Alternating constipation and diarrhea.
  • Change in bowel habits such as harder, looser, or more urgent stools than usual.

Treatment includes:

  • Avoiding excessive caffeine.
  • Increasing fiber in your diet.
  • Monitoring which foods trigger your IBS (and avoiding these foods).
  • Minimizing stress or learning different ways to cope with stress.
  • Take medicines as prescribed by your healthcare provider.
  • Avoid dehydration and hydrating well throughout the day.
  • Getting high-quality rest/sleep.

Hemorrhoids

“Hemorrhoids are structural diseases caused by dilated veins in the anal canal,” says Dr. Harsh Sheth. 

Platforms such as Practo and Clinicspots lists Dr. Harsh Sheth among the best bariatric surgeon in Mumbai. 

Your anal opening is lined with swollen blood vessels.

The chronic excess pressure from straining during bowel movements, persistent diarrhea, or pregnancy can cause them. 

Internal and external hemorrhoids are the two types of hemorrhoids.

Internal hemorrhoids

Blood vessels inside your anal opening are known as internal hemorrhoids. They become irritated and begin to bleed when they fall into the anus due to straining.

Internal hemorrhoids can eventually fall to the point where they prolapse (sink or stick) out of the anus.

According to Dr. Harsh Sheth, a fantastic bariatric surgeon, treatment includes:

  • Improving bowel habits is one of the treatments (avoiding constipation, not straining during bowel movements, and moving your bowels when you have the urge).
  • To remove the vessels, your healthcare provider uses ligating bands.
  • Your healthcare provider surgically removes them. Only a tiny percentage of people with large, painful, and persistent hemorrhoids require surgery.

External hemorrhoids

External hemorrhoids are veins that run just beneath the skin’s surface on the outside of the anus. After straining, the superficial hemorrhoidal veins can burst, causing blood clots under the skin.

A “pile” is the medical term for this severe condition.

The clot and vein are removed under local anesthesia and hemorrhoid itself.

Anal fissures

Anal fissures are a structural problem as well. They split or crack in the anal opening’s lining.

The passage of very hard or watery stools is the most common cause of an anal fissure. The underlying muscles are exposed due to a crack in the anal lining. These underlying muscles control the passage of stool through the anus and out of the body.

One of the most painful issues is an anal fissure. Stool or air exposure irritates the exposed muscles, resulting in the following symptoms:

  • Intense burning pain 
  • Bleeding
  • Spasm after bowel movements

Initial treatment for anal fissures includes:

  • Pain medicine.
  • Dietary fiber to reduce the occurrence of large, bulky stools.
  • Sitz baths (sitting in a few inches of warm water).

If these treatments fail to relieve your pain, surgery to repair the sphincter muscle may be required.

Perianal abscesses

Perianal abscesses, which are also a structural disease, can develop when the tiny anal glands on the inside of your anus become clogged.

The bacteria always present in these glands causes infection, which leads to pus formation and an abscess.

The abscess is usually drained under local anesthesia in the healthcare provider’s clinic.

Anal fistula

According to Dr. Harsh Sheth, an outstanding bariatric surgeon from Mumbai, an anal fistula is an abnormal tube-like passageway from the anal canal to a hole in the skin near the opening of your anus that often occurs after the drainage of an abscess.

Body wastes that travel through your anal canal are diverted through this tiny channel and out through the skin, causing irritation and itching.

Fistulas also cause: 

  • Drainage 
  • Pain 
  • Bleeding 

They rarely heal independently, necessitating surgery to drain the abscess and “close off” the fistula.

Other perianal infections

Like this structural disease, the skin glands near your anus can become infected and need to be drained.

Abscesses can form just behind the anus, containing a small tuft of hair at the back of the pelvis (called a pilonidal cyst).

The following are sexually transmitted diseases that affect the anus:

  • Anal warts 
  • Herpes 
  • AIDS 
  • Chlamydia 
  • Gonorrhea

Diverticular disease

The structural disease diverticulosis is the presence of small outpouchings (diverticula). It’s found in the muscular wall of your large intestine, where it forms in weak spots.

The sigmoid colon, a high-pressure area of the lower large intestine, usually appears.

Diverticulitis can develop from diverticulosis in some cases.

Diverticular disease complications affect about 10% of people with outpouchings.

They include: 

  • Infection 
  • Inflammation (diverticulitis)
  • Bleeding
  • Obstruction 

Diverticulitis is treated by treating constipation and, in severe cases, antibiotics.

Surgery to remove the involved diseased segment of the colon is required as a last resort in those who have significant complications.

Colon polyps and cancer

Colorectal cancer is one of the most curable types of cancer, thanks to advances in early detection and treatment.

It is possible to prevent disease long before symptoms appear by using a variety of screening tests.

The importance of screening

If colorectal cancer is not detected early on, it can spread throughout the body.

Polyps, benign (non-cancerous) growths in the tissues lining your colon and rectum, are the start of almost all colorectal cancers.

Cancer develops when these polyps grow larger, abnormal cells form and invade the surrounding tissue.

Polyp removal can help prevent colorectal cancer from developing.

With a colonoscopy, a flexible, lighted tube, almost all precancerous polyps can be removed painlessly.

Advanced cancer necessitates more complicated surgical procedures.

Because most early forms of colorectal cancer do not cause symptoms, screening is critical.

When symptoms do appear, cancer may already be advanced.

Symptoms include: 

  • Blood on or mixed in with the stool
  • A change in regular bowel habits
  • Narrowing of the stool
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weight loss
  • Constant tiredness

The majority of colorectal cancer cases are discovered in one of four ways:

  • At the age of 45, people at average risk for colorectal cancer are screened.
  • People who are at a higher risk of colorectal cancer are screened (for example, those with a family history or a personal history of colon polyps or cancer)
  • By looking into the bowels of patients who have symptoms,
  • A chance discovery during a routine check-up

The best chance of a cure is early detection.

Colitis

There are several types of colitis, which are conditions that cause an inflammation of the bowel. These include:

  • Infectious colitis.
  • Ulcerative colitis (cause unknown).
  • Crohn’s disease (cause unknown).
  • Ischemic colitis (caused by not enough blood going to the colon).
  • Radiation colitis (after radiotherapy).

Colitis causes the following: 

  • Rectal bleeding 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Urgency (recurring and instantaneous requirement to empty the bowels) 
  • Abdominal cramps 

Cure relies on the diagnosis, which is made by biopsy and colonoscopy.

Can gastrointestinal conditions be stopped?

Numerous disorders of the colon and rectum can be stopped or minimized by:

  • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle
  • Practicing good bowel habits
  • Getting screened for cancer

At 45, patients with an average risk of colon cancer should have a colonoscopy. 

According to Dr. Harsh Sheth, an incredible bariatric surgeon from Mumbai, a colonoscopy may be recommended at a younger age if you have a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps.

A colonoscopy is usually recommended for ten years younger than the affected family member. (If your brother was diagnosed with colorectal cancer or polyps at the age of 45, you should start screening at the age of 35.)

If you’re experiencing symptoms of colorectal cancer, you should see your doctor right away. Symptoms that are common include:

  • A change in regular bowel habits.
  • Blood in or on the stool that is either dark or bright.
  • Uncommon abdominal or gas discomforts.
  • Very thin stool.
  • A sensation that the bowel has not drained after passing stool.
  • Unexplained weight loss.
  • Tiredness.
  • Anemia (low blood count).

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