Heartburn is a burning sensation felt behind the breastbone and sometimes in the neck and throat. It is caused by stomach acid refluxing or flowing up into the esophagus – the muscular tube that connects the throat to the stomach. At the lower end of the esophagus where it enters the stomach, there is a strong muscular ring called the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES). The LES should remain tightly closed, except to allow food and liquid to pass into the stomach. Heartburn occurs when the LES opens at the wrong time. Almost everyone has this occasionally, and it is nothing to be concerned about. However, heartburn that is severe, frequent or that occurs repeatedly over a long period of time can be harmful. This is known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). Left untreated, GERD causes constant acid irritation to the lining of the esophagus and complications can occur. About 1 in 10 patients with GERD are also found to have a condition called Barrett’s esophagus, which can be serious and may lead to cancer of the esophagus.
The liver weighs about 3 pounds and is the largest organ in the body. It is located in the upper right side of the abdomen, below the ribs. When chronic diseases cause the liver to become permanently injured and scarred, the condition is called cirrhosis. The scar tissue that forms in cirrhosis harms the structure of the liver, blocking the flow of blood through the organ. The loss of normal liver tissue slows the processing of nutrients, hormones, drugs and toxins by the liver. Also slowed is production of proteins and other substances made by the liver.
Sometimes the body’s cells fail to grow, divide and reproduce in a healthy, orderly way, thus producing too much tissue and forming a tumor. These tumors can be benign, which are not cancerous, or malignant, which are cancerous and can spread to other parts of the body.
Diverticulosis, coming from the Latin word diverticulum, means a small pouch or a weak spot in the colon or large intestine that yields to pressure from food or gas within the colon. Tiny pockets of the membrane lining of the colon are pushed out from the inside of the intestinal wall to form small sacs or pouches about the size of a rubber tip of a lead pencil called diverticula.
Diverticula can develop anywhere in the digestive tract but they usually occur in the colon, predominantly in the narrowest part, the sigmoid region.
Also known as spastic colon, mucus colitis and a variety of other names, this condition consists of a functional disorder of the large intestine or colon.
Inability to digest and absorb gliadin, the protein found in wheat. Undigested gliadin causes damage to the lining of the small intestine. This prevents absorption of nutrients from other foods. Celiac disease is also called celiac sprue, gluten intolerance, and nontropical sprue.