Digestive Care FAQ

Digestive Care FAQ

What doctor takes care of the digestive system?

Answer: The type of doctor that takes care of the digestive system is a Gastroenterologist or a Colon and Rectal Surgeon. The entire digestive system is a sophisticated network of crucial organs and tissue that work together to keep the body healthy and fit. Colon and Rectal Surgeons and Gastroenterologists specialize in the components that make up this incredible system.

How do I take proper care of my digestive system?

Answer: The best way to take proper care of your digestive system is to live a lifestyle that promotes health. Eat nutritious meals and snacks that consist of fresh fruits and vegetables. Stay away from excessive fatty and sugary foods that will hinder your digestive processes. Be sure to move around and get exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. Most importantly, talk to your doctor and get regular health checkups to ensure that you are taking the best care of yourself that you possibly can.

What are common disorders of the digestive system?

Answer: Since the digestive system is so complex, many problems can occur within the digestive tract. More common disorders people suffer from are acid reflux disease, irritable bowel syndrome, lactose intolerance, hiatal hernia, and cancer. Symptoms from digestive disorders can be as severe as bleeding, nausea, and vomiting. Some symptoms are milder such as bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and heartburn. A healthy digestive system can promote health throughout the rest of the body, so it is essential to take care of it and keep it in good shape.

What are the main parts of the human digestive system?

Answer: The human digestive system comprises several intricate parts that make up the whole. The main components of the digestive system are the mouth, the esophagus, the stomach, the pancreas, the liver, the small intestine, the large intestine, and the anus. This system is in place to intake nutrients as food, allow the body to absorb the nutrients, push the unnecessary remnants of the food through the waste process, and eliminate it from the body.

What happens if this digestive system is not working correctly?

Answer: When the digestive system is not functioning correctly, people can develop many common disorders that accompany poor digestive system health. Heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, weight gain, and even bleeding can appear because of an unhealthy digestive system. In addition to digestive tract disorders, people can also develop autoimmune diseases, internal inflammation, skin conditions, cancer, organ damage, etc. Maintaining an acceptable level of health within the digestive tract; without gut health, the entire body is vulnerable to disease and injury from the digestive system not being in good health.

What is the difference between a colorectal surgeon and a gastroenterologist?

Answer: Colorectal surgeons first become general surgeons, including five years of surgical residency after medical school. They then complete an extra year of specialized surgical training in colon and rectal surgery and treat everything from hemorrhoids and anal fistulas to colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, diverticulitis, and pelvic floor disorders. They are also very involved with performing colonoscopies to screen for and remove polyps to prevent colorectal cancer.

On the other hand, Gastroenterologists first complete three years of medical residency, learning to care for all medical conditions from diabetes and heart disease to pneumonia and rheumatoid arthritis. They then do three years of specialty training in the medical management of gastrointestinal disorders and learn to do colonoscopy and endoscopy. Some do an extra year of training in inflammatory bowel disease, liver disease, or advanced endoscopy, as an example. While the conditions that colorectal surgeons and gastroenterologists treat may overlap (both do colonoscopies), there are some critical differences in the treatments we offer by trade. Some may be provider- or institution-specific.

  • Colorectal surgeons generally don’t treat stomach, pancreas, or liver disease – gastroenterologists do. If you need a surgeon for those conditions, they may refer you to
    a specialist in those areas. Colorectal surgeons also generally don’t employ medical treatment of inflammatory bowel disease typically done by gastroenterologists, and a referral to surgery is made only when the condition is bad enough to need surgery.
  • Colorectal surgeons often do more than just surgery, especially for anal diseases. They offer non-surgical approaches to hemorrhoids and anal fissures, and only if the condition gets severe enough do they escalate treatment to surgery.

What is GERD?

Answer: Chronic heartburn may be caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, a condition in which stomach contents leak backward into the esophagus. Lifestyle changes and medication generally treat it. Surgery is an option if other treatments don’t control your symptoms. Usually, after swallowing, a valve between the esophagus and the stomach opens to allow food to pass. It closes to prevent stomach contents from “refluxing” back into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation in the chest. For people who suffer from GERD, the valve is dysfunctional and unable to prevent acid from refluxing into the esophagus.

What are the symptoms of GERD?

Answer: If you have heartburn or reflux twice a week or more, you may have GERD. Heartburn is the most common symptom, but you may also experience:

  •  Hoarseness or sore throat
  • Frequent swallowing
  • Asthma or asthma-like symptoms
  • Pain or discomfort in the chest
  •  Sleep disruption
  • Bloating
  •  Excessive clearing of the throat
  •  Persistent cough
  • Burning in the mouth or throat
  • Intolerance of certain foods
  • Dental erosions or therapy-resistant gum disease or inflammation

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