At the heart of gastroenterology is the human digestive system. Digestion begins with the mouth, salivary glands, tongue and epiglottis. When food is consumed and swallowed, it then makes its way down the rest of the digestive system and esophagus and into the stomach. After leaving the stomach, food then goes through the small and large intestines. Waste leaves the body via the anus and rectum.
The gastroenterology system is large, and there are many diseases affecting this region of the body. Mild ailments in this system include indigestion, gastritis, or reflux. Chronic diseases affecting the intestines and bowels include Crohn's disease and inflammatory bowel disease. Some patients experience uncomfortable gastroenterological health problems, such as hemorrhoids, ulcers or polyps. Additionally, some types of cancers impact this region, such as stomach cancer.
If you suspect you have an issue with your digestive system or intestinal region with some identifiable symptoms, it's best to see a specialist in this field, a gastroenterologist. Patients experiencing problems with recurring constipation or diarrhea may also need to see a gastroenterologist. Other signs you may need to make an appointment with a gastroenterological specialist include bloating, excessive gas, abdominal cramps, vomiting or difficulty eating.
It's important to develop healthy habits for your digestive system. Drinking plenty of water, participating in regular exercise, paying attention to new symptoms and seeing your physician annually can help. You can also work with your doctor to design a high-quality diet that keeps your gastroenterological system at its peak and lessen the symptoms of these diseases or prevent problems down the road.