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Frequently Asked Questions About Digestive Diseases

5. How Can I Help a Loved One Cope With Digestive Difficulties?

Encourage your loved one to seek treatment as soon as digestive symptoms appear. Immediate treatment can help in relieving as much discomfort as possible. Diarrhea, vomiting, poor absorption of nutrients, and side effects of drug treatment all may lead to malnutrition. If the symptoms do not get better after a few days or if they are very severe, call a doctor to ensure that your loved one receives proper evaluation and treatment.

6. What Is Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease (also known as celiac sprue or gluten-sensitive enteropathy) is a digestive and autoimmune disorder that results in damage to the lining of the small intestine when foods with gluten are eaten. Glutens are a form of protein found in some grains, such as wheat, barley and rye. The damage to the intestine makes it hard for the body to absorb nutrients, especially fat, calcium, iron, and folate.

7. What Is Endoscopy?

Endoscopy is a procedure in which a flexible, lighted tube is used to look inside the esophagus, stomach, duodenum (first section of the small intestine), colon, or rectum. The procedure is commonly used to help diagnose:

  • Abdominal or chest pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Heartburn
  • Bleeding
  • Swallowing disorders
  • Ulcers
  • Tumors
  • Inflammation
  • Bowel movement difficulties

8. What Is Hepatitis and How Can It be Prevented?

Hepatitis is a virus that causes inflammation of the liver. It can be either acute (lasting less than six months) or chronic (lasting more than six months). Several viruses are known to cause hepatitis, including hepatitis A, B, and C.

To reduce your chances of getting hepatitis:

  • Get the vaccines for hepatitis A and hepatitis B (there is currently no vaccine available for hepatitis C).
  • Use a latex condom during sex.
  • Don't share needles or take drugs.
  • Practice good personal hygiene, such as thorough hand-washing.
  • Don't use an infected person's personal items, such as razors or toothbrushes.
  • Take precautions when getting any tattoos or body piercings.
  • Take precaution when traveling to areas of the world with poor sanitation. Make sure you get immunized against hepatitis A.
  • If you eat raw sushi, consider getting the hepatitis A vaccine.

 

9. What Are Ulcers and How Do I know If I Have Them?

Peptic ulcer disease refers to painful sores or ulcers in the lining of the stomach or first part of the small intestine, called the duodenum.

An ulcer may or may not have symptoms. When symptoms occur, they include:

In severe cases, ulcer symptoms can include:

  • Dark or black stool (due to bleeding)
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Severe pain in the mid to upper abdomen

 

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