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Frequently Asked Questions About Digestive Diseases

4. How Can My Diet Prevent Digestive Discomfort?

You can keep many digestive problems away with lifestyle changes. Bad habits, such as eating too quickly or skipping meals, can upset your stomach. Be sure to eat slowly and chew thoroughly. You might want to try eating several small meals throughout the day.

A balanced diet can help, too. Unhealthy foods can cause trouble for your digestive system. Eat less processed food and sugar, and more fiber, fruits, and vegetables.

If you're sensitive to certain types of food, such as dairy or gluten, stay away from these items or cut back on them. Talk with a nutritionist before you ban a food from your plate to make sure you still get important nutrients from other sources.

5. How Can I Help a Loved One Handle Digestive Problems?

Encourage her to get treatment as soon as she has symptoms so she can avoid as much discomfort as possible. Diarrhea, vomiting, and side effects of medications she takes can mean she may not get all the nutrients she needs to be healthy. If the symptoms don’t get better after a few days or if they're severe, call a doctor to make sure she gets the right diagnosis and treatment.

6. What Is Celiac Disease?

It's a problem that involves both the digestive tract and the immune system. It's also known as celiac sprue or gluten-sensitive enteropathy. When you have celiac disease, eating foods with a form of protein called gluten makes your body attack your small intestine. The damage makes it hard for your body to absorb nutrients, especially fat, calcium, iron, and folate, from food.

The disease usually runs in families. There’s no treatment, so people who have it have to stick to a strict, gluten-free diet. Gluten is found in some grains, such as wheat, barley, and rye.

7. What Is Endoscopy?

It's a procedure that helps your doctor look inside your digestive system. A flexible, lighted tube with a camera, called an endoscope, goes in your mouth to help her see the inside of your esophagus, stomach, or the first part of the small intestine, or in your bottom to show the inside of your colon or rectum. Doctors use it to help diagnose:

  • Belly or chest pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Heartburn
  • Bleeding
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Ulcers
  • Tumors
  • Inflammation
  • Problems with bowel movements

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