When you swallow, food passes down your throat and through your esophagus to your stomach. A muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter controls the opening to your stomach and stays tightly closed except when you swallow food. When it doesn’t close, the acid in your stomach can splash back up into your esophagus. This backward movement is called reflux. When it happens, you might feel burning inside, commonly known as heartburn.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is when reflux happens more than twice a week and often enough to affect your daily life or damage your esophagus.

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.

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
Let yours know if you have any of these symptoms:
  • Heartburn that doesn’t go away or gets worse, or doesn’t get better with medication
  • A feeling that food is caught in your chest or throat
  • Unusual or lasting belly pain
  • Discomfort that keeps you from your usual activities
  • Trouble or painful swallowing
  • Heartburn that causes vomiting
  • Vomiting blood
  • Bloody or black stools
  • Major weight loss you can’t explain
  • Hoarseness or a sore throat that doesn’t improve
  • Choking
  • Diarrhea that doesn’t go away
  • New or lasting constipation
Ulcers are painful sores in the lining of the stomach or the first part of the small intestine. Not all of them have symptoms, but warning signs can include:
  • A gnawing or burning pain in the middle or upper stomach between meals or at night
  • Bloating
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea or vomiting

In severe cases, ulcer symptoms can include:

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

Hepatitis is a virus that inflames the liver. It can be either acute (lasting less than 6 months) or chronic (lasting more than 6 months). There are several viruses that cause it, including hepatitis A, B, and C.

To lower your chances of getting the disease:
  • Get the vaccines for hepatitis A and hepatitis B. (Right now there’s no vaccine for hepatitis C.)
  • Use a latex condom during sex.
  • Don't share needles or take illegal drugs.
  • Practice good personal hygiene, such as thorough hand-washing.
  • Don't use an infected person's personal items, such as razors or toothbrushes.
  • Be careful when you get any tattoos or body piercings. Choose licensed shops that clean equipment properly.
  • Protect yourself when you travel to areas of the world with poor sanitation. Get your hepatitis A shot before you go.
  • If you eat raw sushi, consider getting the hepatitis A vaccine.

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.

Doctors use this operation, also called fundoplication, to create a better valve at the bottom of the esophagus to protect it from stomach acid. You might get this operation if you’ve tried taking medications and making lifestyle changes to treat GERD, but they haven’t helped.

A surgeon will make several small (usually 5- to 10-millimeter) cuts in your belly. Then she’ll use a thin, lighted tube, called a laparoscope, to look inside the cuts at your organs. The scope sends a picture of your insides to a monitor, which guides the surgeon during the operation.

Laparoscopic antireflux surgery is best for people who haven’t had surgery on their belly before, those who’ve had their stomach push through their diaphragm (called hiatal hernias) and those who have most of their reflux symptoms when they’re lying down.

Hemorrhoids are groups of swollen and inflamed veins in the tissue inside your bottom, specifically the anus and lower rectum. These blood vessels can burst and cause bleeding. You might see blood on toilet paper or in the toilet, and feel pain or itching. It might happen if you strain during a bowel movement. The best way to prevent hemorrhoids is to keep your stools soft so you can pass them easily without straining. Eat a high-fiber diet and drink plenty of fluids each day.

It’s a good idea to let your doctor know if you have bleeding from your bottom or blood in your stools. These can be a symptoms of colon cancer, or polyps that could become cancer. Your doctor may want to use a lighted tube to check inside your rectum (called an anoscopy), your lower colon (sigmoidoscopy), or your entire colon (colonoscopy).

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.

Liver failure occurs when large parts of the liver become damaged beyond repair, and the liver is no longer able to function.

Liver failure is a life-threatening condition that demands urgent medical care. Most often, liver failure occurs gradually and over many years. However, a more rare condition known as acute liver failure occurs rapidly (in as little as 48 hours) and can be difficult to detect initially.

The most common causes of liver failure are:

  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C
  • Long-term, excessive alcohol consumption
  • Cirrhosis
  • Hemochromatosis
  • Malnutrition

Everyone has gas. Burping or passing gas through the rectum is normal. Because it is embarrassing to burp or pass gas, many people believe they pass gas too often or have too much gas. It is rare for a person to have too much gas.

Most of the time gas is odorless. The odor comes from sulfur made by bacteria in the large intestine. Sometimes gas causes bloating and pain. Not everyone has these symptoms. How much gas the body makes and how sensitive a person is to gas in the large intestine have an effect on how uncomfortable having gas is.

Preventions: Changing what you eat and drink can help prevent or relieve gas. If you feel like you have too much gas, you might want to try these things before going to the doctor.

i) Cut down on foods that causes gas.

The amount of gas caused by certain foods varies from person to person. The only way to know your own limits is through trial and error. These are some foods that cause gas:

  • Vegetables: broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, onions, artichokes, and asparagus
  • Fruits: pears, apples, and peaches
  • Beans
  • Whole Grains: whole wheat and bran
  • Soft Drinks and Fruit Drinks
  • Milk and Dairy Products: cheese and ice cream
  • Packaged Foods with lactose in them, such as bread, cereal, and salad dressing
  • Dietetic Foods: sugar free candies and gums

ii) Drink plenty of water, non-"fizzy" liquids, and clear soup.

Try not to drink liquids that cause gas, like soda and beer. If you do drink these liquids, pour them into a glass first to let some of the "fizz" out.

iii) Reduce the amount of air you swallow. Here are some ways to avoid swallowing air:

  • Eat slower and chew more to cut down on the amount of air you swallow when you eat
  • Avoid chewing gum and eating hard candy
  • If you smoke, try to cut down or quit
  • If you have false teeth, see your dentist to make sure they fit right
  • Avoid chewing gum and eating hard candy
  • If you smoke, try to cut down or quit
  • If you have false teeth, see your dentist to make sure they fit right

iv) Keep a diary

Write down the foods (and the amounts) that seem to cause you the most problems. Also keep track of the number of times you pass gas.If you are still troubled by gas, you may want to see your doctor. Take your diary with you to help you answer the doctor's questions about eating habits and symptoms.

Points to Remember:

  • Everyone has gas in the digestive tract.
  • People often think they pass too much gas when they don't.
  • Passing gas frequently is normal.
  • Two ways to reduce the amount of gas you have are to
  • Cut down on the foods that causes gas
  • Reduce the amount of air you swallow

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