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Digestive Disorders

The small and large intestines are in the lower part of the digestive tract and are where the major portion of nutrients are absorbed into the body. Some diseases and conditions impacting the intestines can be treated with medications and dietary modifications, but in certain cases, surgery to remove part of the intestines may be necessary.

WakeMed’s gastroenterologists have the expertise and training to accurately diagnose and treat the full spectrum of intestinal pain, stomach pain and conditions — whether it’s chronic constipation, acute intestinal pain, stomach pain or a condition that requires lifelong management.

What Are The Types of Intestinal and Stomach Conditions?

Some of the intestinal and stomach conditions WakeMed gastroenterologists treat include:

  • Appendicitis: A relatively common condition for children and young adults, in which the appendix becomes inflamed and causes pain
  • Bowel obstruction: Also known as intestinal obstruction, a blockage that keeps food from passing through the intestines
  • Colon cancer: Cancer that starts in the large intestine
  • Constipation: Infrequent bowel movements that can last for weeks or longer
  • Crohn’s disease: A type of inflammatory bowel disease, which usually impacts either the small or large intestine
  • Diarrhea: Loose or liquid bowel movements
  • Diverticulitis: An inflammation or infection of one or more small pouches inside the colon, or large intestine
  • Gallstones: Hardened deposits of digestive fluid that form in the gallbladder, which if causing pain usually require surgical removal
  • Gastroenteritis: Often called the stomach bug, a contagious illness in which symptoms can include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, fever and general discomfort
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding: Bleeding that can occur anywhere along the gastrointestinal tract
  • GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease):â€&hibar;A common condition where contents from the stomach come back into the esophagus, causing a burning feeling and other painful symptoms
  • Inflammatory bowel disease: An umbrella term, which includes both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
  • Irritable bowel syndrome: A common chronic condition of the large intestine that causes pain, cramping, diarrhea and constipation
  • Pancreatitis: An inflammation of the pancreas
  • Reflux: A burning feeling that occurs in the chest or throat
  • Stomach ulcers: Painful sores in the lining of the stomach
  • Ulcerative colitis: Another type of inflammatory bowel disease, which impacts the colon or rectum, and is typically characterized by bloody stools, diarrhea, and pain. 

What Are The Symptoms of Intestinal and Stomach Conditions?

If you have chronic intestinal and/or stomach pain or issues that don’t seem to be getting better, call your doctor. You should also make an appointment with a gastroenterologist if you’re experiencing symptoms including:

  • Bloody stools
  • Chronic constipation
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Inability to have a bowel movement or pass gas (This can indicate an obstruction.)
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Persistent nausea and vomiting
  • Severe intestinal or stomach pain, which may come and go
  • Severe tenderness and/or pain in the abdomen
  • Swelling of the abdomen

How Do You Diagnose Intestinal and Stomach Conditions?

Our gastroenterologists start by taking a detailed patient history and a review of symptoms. Tests we may use to diagnose intestinal and stomach conditions include:

  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • Blood tests
  • Capsule endoscopy (aka Pillcam)
  • Colonoscopy (sometimes referred to as a lower endoscopy) that looks at the inner lining of the colon to check for inflammation, polyps or cancer
  • Endoscopic ultrasound, in which the gastroenterologist inserts a special endoscope (a thin flexible lighted tube with a camera on the tip) into the patient’s mouth to inspect the esophagus, stomach and duodenum
  • Rectal exam
  • Upperâ€&hibar;endoscopy
  • Upper gastrointestinal (GI) series, which is an X-ray series of the upper digestive tract
  • X-rays, Computed Tomography (CT) scans, and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

How Do You Treat Intestinal and Stomach Conditions?

Treatment varies depending on the specific intestinal and stomach condition. Some, like intestinal blockages, require immediate surgical attention. Inflammatory bowel disease and diverticulitis can usually be treated with prescription medication, but they may also require surgical intervention. Colon cancer requires an individualized approach to treatment.

Whenever possible, WakeMed offers minimally invasive and laparoscopic surgeries to treat intestinal and stomach disorders.

Lifestyle modifications can also be helpful for intestinal and stomach conditions, including:

  • Avoiding foods that seem to trigger symptoms
  • Drinking more water
  • Eating a diet full of fiber-rich foods such as whole grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits
  • Getting regular exercise
  • Maintaining a healthy weight

Many intestinal and stomach conditions can be impacted both positively and negatively by diet, and we offer our patients nutrition counseling to help them manage their conditions and make smart nutritional choices.

Make an Appointment

If you or someone you care for is experiencing worrisome symptoms, we encourage you to make an appointment with one of our pediatric gastroenterologists, adult gastroenterologists or colorectal surgeons.