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Mouse over any of the targets on the illustration to the left for a quick reference
guide to some of the most common Digestive Disorders and their symptoms:

Barrett's Esophagus is a condition in which the color and composition of the cells
lining your lower esophagus change because of repeated exposure to stomach
acid. This exposure to stomach acid is most often a result of long-term
gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) — a chronic regurgitation of acid from
your stomach into your lower esophagus.

Barrett’s Esophagus does not have any specific symptoms, but heartburn and acid
regurgitation — the bad-tasting liquid that enters the mouth from the throat — is a
common indicator of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which can lead to
Barrett's Esophagus.

Other signs and symptoms of GERD, Barrett’s Esophagus or esophageal
cancer include:

  • Trouble swallowing — Often due to the narrowing of the esophagus.
  • Weight loss — Unexpected or with loss of appetite.
  • Bleeding — Vomiting blood or passing black stools.

Between 60 to 70 million Americans suffer from heartburn, and 25 million of them
deal with this condition on a daily basis. And although GERD (gastroesophageal
reflux disease) is this common, it often goes unrecognized — its symptoms
misunderstood.

Heartburn, or reflux, occurs when small amounts of stomach acid rise up
into the esophagus, or the swallowing tube that carries food from the mouth
to the stomach.

You can have GERD without having heartburn. Your symptoms could be excessive
clearing of the throat, problems swallowing, the feeling that food is stuck in your
throat, burning in the mouth, or pain in the chest.

Constipation is one of the most common gastrointestinal complaints in the United
States. Constipation is the passage of small amounts of hard, dry bowel move-
ments, usually fewer than three times a week. People who are constipated may
find it difficult and painful to have a bowel movement. Other symptoms of
constipation include feeling bloated, uncomfortable, and sluggish.

Common causes of constipation are:

  • not enough fiber in the diet
  • not enough liquids
  • lack of exercise
  • medications
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • changes in life or routine such as pregnancy, older age, and travel
  • abuse of laxatives
  • ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement
  • specific diseases such as stroke (by far the most common)
  • problems with the colon and rectum
  • problems with intestinal function (chronic idiopathic constipation)

Diverticulosis are pouches or outward sacs from the bowel wall. They most
commonly form in the colon, but may also occur in the esophagus, stomach and
intestine. Diverticulosis is usually without symptoms, but may be associated with
some bowel irregularity. Diverticulitis occurs if one of the pouches becomes
infected with a break in the wall. Abdominal pain and fever may occur
accompanied with nausea, vomiting and change in bowels. Antibiotics may resolve
the problem, but surgery may be required. It is one of the few diseases which
may be more difficult to treat in the younger patient.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a disorder characterized most commonly
by the following symptoms: cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, constipation,
and diarrhea. Some patients have predominantly diarrhea or constipation while
others switch back and forth between diarrhea and constipation within several
days. As many as one in five American adults have IBS, but only a small
percentage of people with the disorder have severe signs and symptoms.

The causes of IBS are unknown, but most of those that have the disorder
may have an intestine that is particularly sensitive to certain foods and stress.
A few patients may develop the problems after a bowel infection such as,
traveler’s diarrhea. Irritable bowel syndrome can cause a great deal of discomfort
and distress, but it does not permanently harm the intestines and does not lead
to cancer or other serious bowel issues. The best way to control IBS in many
cases is by managing your diet, lifestyle and stress.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in men and women and
the second most common cause of cancer deaths. Colorectal cancer begins in
either the colon or the rectum, part of the digestive tract, also called the GI
(gastrointestinal) tract, where food is processed to create energy and rid the
body of waste.

In its early stages, colorectal cancer may show no symptoms. For this reason,
it is very important to have regular colorectal cancer prevention examinations,
or screenings. When symptoms are present, the cancer may still be curable
if not ignored.

The symptoms of colorectal cancer may include:

  • Change in bowel habits (constipation or diarrhea)
  • Blood on or in the stool (not always visible to naked eye)
  • Unexplained anemia
  • Unusual abdominal or gas pain
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting

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This Web site ("Site") is offered by Florida Hospital Volusia/Flagler for general information, education and communication purposes only. The Medical Services section of this Site may not represent the official position of Florida Hospital. This information is not intended nor implied to take the place of professional medical advice and should not be used for diagnoses. Information on this Site is not intended to create any physician-patient relationship. If you have questions or concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.