Don’t Ignore Gut Health
Excellent digestive health is one of the keys to a long, healthy life. Yet many issues are ignored, causing thousands of hospitalizations and deaths yearly. Gastroenterologists or GI doctors are doctors who specialize in digestive health. These professionals agree that yearly visits can stop many cases of gastrointestinal conditions and diseases. Sometimes, a GI doctor will order an endoscopy to search for underlying issues.
Getting a closer look with endoscopy
If the doctor orders an endoscopy, don’t be afraid. An endoscopy is a non-surgical procedure to help the doctor assess the digestive system. In some cases, the doctor can then treat an underlying issue. An endoscopy is named after an endoscope, the tool used to perform the procedure. An endoscope is a thin, snake-like tool with a camera and light on the end. The camera shows a high-quality image of the digestive tract on a screen. The endoscope also allows small tools to pass through for minor procedures. Most endoscopies are quick, almost painless, and can be life-saving. While there are a few reasons for endoscopy, these 3 are the most common.
1. More than an upset stomach
Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS is inflammation of the large intestine and colon. IBS creates issues like abdominal pain, gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation. The condition requires lifestyle changes and diet to prevent flareups. IBS is hard to diagnose, as there is no test to confirm the condition. However, there could be underlying conditions causing these symptoms. An endoscopy can be valuable as a doctor can perform a biopsy. The doctor removes a small piece of tissue for testing. Biopsies help rule out issues like celiac disease or microscopic colitis.
2. Tiny stones, big pain
The gallbladder is an important organ in the digestive system. This organ stores and releases the bile created in the liver. The bile breaks down fatty or high cholesterol foods in the intestines. Sometimes, too much cholesterol in the bile can harden and create gallstones. These stones block the gallbladder from working, which can cause several issues. Symptoms include severe stomach pain, nausea, indigestion, inflammation, and infection. In severe cases, the doctor will order a particular type of endoscopy. An endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography or ERCP combines endoscopy and x-rays to check the gallbladder. This helps the doctor assess and treat gallstones and the gallbladder.
3. Peeping at the pancreas
The pancreas is one of the most important parts of the digestive system. The organ helps the body process sugar, using essential enzymes and hormones like insulin. Pancreatitis is inflammation in the pancreas due to these enzymes activating inside the pancreas. Gallstones, excess alcohol, certain medications, or some diseases also cause pancreatitis. Someone with pancreatitis can encounter sharp pain in the upper abdomen area, fever, nausea, and vomiting. Pancreatitis can be dangerous and even fatal if left unchecked. Like gallstones, the doctor will perform an ERCP. This will allow the doctor to view the pancreas. The doctor can then perform minor procedures to reduce inflammation.
Benefit from an endoscopy
An endoscopy is a quick, effective procedure to get to the root of several digestive issues. Some symptoms like nausea, indigestion, and constipation are common and go away without treatment. Yet, there are some cases where these symptoms are a sign of a deeper issue. When in doubt, see a doctor right away. Endoscopy can be the start of treatment for IBS, gallstones, or pancreatitis.