The Encyclopedia of the Digestive System and Digestive Disorders 1st Edition PDF
1.30 MB PDF
I am both a practicing gastroenterologist and a medical school professor, as well as an author of medical journal articles and self-help books for the general public, such as How to Stop Heartburn and Natural Stomach Care. My different roles dovetail to provide me with a broad and current overview of both common and rare diseases and disorders of the digestive system. From these perspectives, I perceive the present as a very exciting time of major advances. In fact, a broad array of amazing diagnostic and therapeutic breakthroughs has occurred over the course of my career, and I have also seen the development of many exciting new techniques and treatments that help patients with digestive diseases and disorders.
Let me illustrate with just a few examples to show readers how far medical science has advanced in the field of digestive health in a relatively short period. In the not-so-distant past (in the 1980s and the early 1990s), many physicians worldwide believed that peptic ulcers (painful sores of the stomach and of the duodenum, which is the upper part of the small intestine) were solely caused by severe stress and/or diets high in fatty or spicy foods. Now doctors know that the majority of ulcers are caused by bacteria called Helicobacter pylori and that most of the remaining ulcers are caused by medications, primarily nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that are taken for other illnesses such as arthritis.
This knowledge has effectively enabled physicians to prevent the recurrence of ulcers by treating them with antibiotics (if the cause is bacterial) or by recommendation of the avoidance of ulcerinducing medications, if the cause is an NSAID medication. If NSAIDs must be used, an additional medication to protect against the ulcerogenic effect can be taken along with the NSAID. We physicians also offer newer medications with high-tech names like proton pump inhibitors that decrease the level of stomach acidity and give the stomach a chance to recover from the ulcer.
Even more exciting than this breakthrough in peptic ulcer disease is the fact that medical researchers have made dramatic advances in diagnosing and treating cancer, which have the potential to extend the lives of patients for years. Colorectal cancer, the second most prominent form of cancer in the United States, can be readily screened with tests, not just the fecal occult blood test (FOBT) or the colonoscopy, a procedure that enables physicians to look inside the colon and small intestine and check for disease, but also a virtual colonoscopy! Tests that are now available can check the stool for genetically altered cells that are shed by a colonic tumor.
Wireless endoscopy has arrived, allowing physicians a noninvasive means to visualize regions of the small bowel that are not easily within the reach of standard endoscopy, thus increasing the likelihood of pinpointing the causes of obscure gastrointestinal bleeding and other digestive problems.
Medical science has also identified risk factors for colorectal cancer as well as many other forms of cancer and other digestive diseases and disorders; thus, provided with a complete medical history, doctors know the illnesses for which they should especially screen their patients. If the colonoscopy identifies polyps that may be precancerous, they can be removed, averting the risk of damage and death from colon cancer.
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