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GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease", often simply called "reflux". It refers to a backflow of acid from the stomach into the swallowing tube or esophagus. This often, but not always causes a burning sensation in the chest. It occurs most frequently after a meal (especially with spicy or greasy foods) or when lying down at night. GERD can cause inflammation of the esophagus (esophagitis), ulcers in the esophagus, swallowing difficulties due to narrowing (stricture), or more serious complications, such as Barrett’s Esophagus which is a pre-malignant condition. People suffering from chronic GERD may be at a higher risk of esophageal cancer. Treatment of GERD may include diet and lifestyle changes, as well as medications. It is usually a chronic condition.

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Peptic Ulcer Disease
Peptic Ulcer Disease (PUD) occurs when stomach acid penetrates the stomach or duodenal causing sores. The two main causes are chronic infection with a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) and use of NSAIDS, or "nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs". NSAIDs include ibuprofen, naproxyn and numerous prescription medicines. Symptoms of ulcers may include upper abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting, though some patients, especially the elderly may have ulcers without pain at all. Serious complications can occur, such as bleeding, perforation or obstruction. Ulcers can be healed with medications. If H. pylori is responsible, antibiotic treatment can eliminate it. If NSAIDs are responsible, these medicines need to be eliminated as much as possible.

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Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. It can be caused by many things, including alcohol, viral infections (such as Hepatitis A, B or C), obesity (fatty liver), auto immune disease or inherited disorders. Some types of hepatitis can cause permanent liver cell damage and scarring of the liver, leading to cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer.

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Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a general term used to describe diseases that cause chronic inflammation of the intestine. The two types of IBD are Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis (UC). Symptoms may include diarrhea, rectal bleeding and abdominal pain. The severity of the disease is quite variable. Some suffer only mild symptoms, which are little more than a nuisance, while others have severe and disabling symptoms which are a serious threat to their health. The cause remains unknown, but numerous medications can be used to control symptoms.

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a disorder of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract characterized by abdominal pain associated with alterations in bowel function, diarrhea, constipation or both. The cause is unknown but believed to involve abnormal contractions of the bowel and/or a heightened perception of pain from normal stimuli from the bowel. By definition, all tests are normal. Treatment for IBS includes diet, exercise and some occasional use of medications. The condition is frustrating and life-long.

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Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the anal canal. Symptoms include pain, itching, burning, and bleeding. The bleeding typically is bright red but relatively small in quantity. Constipation is a major cause of hemorrhoids. Several over-the-counter measures to treat hemorrhoids are available. Sometimes prescription ointments and suppositories are used. Stool softening with fiber and other stool softeners are an extremely important addition to therapy. It is also important to distinguish hemorrhoidal bleeding from bleeding due to more serious causes such as tumors or polyps. Hemorrhoidal bleeding is generally not dangerous, but other causes most not be overlooked.

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Diverticula are small pouches that bulge outward through weakened areas in the colon. The pouches form when pressure inside the colon builds. It is believed that this is due to a lifetime of inadequate fiber in the diet. Most patients with diverticulosis have no symptoms. If a diverticulum becomes inflamed, that is called diverticulitis. Diverticulitis is usually produces lower abdominal pain, fever, tenderness, and a change in bowel movements. A patient with diverticulosis may never develop diverticulitis, but should diverticulitis occur, the patient should immediately see a physician. Many cases of diverticulitis can be treated as an outpatient with oral antibiotics and a modified diet. Rarely diverticulitis may require hospitalization, emergency surgery or produce blockage of the colon. Heavy lower GI bleeding is another uncommon but serious complication of diverticulosis.

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