The gastroenterologist in Guatemala studies the normal functioning and conditions of the stomach, esophagus, small intestine, colon and rectum, pancreas, bile ducts, gallbladder and liver. This implies a detailed understanding of the action of the gastrointestinal organs, which includes the movement of material through the intestines and the stomach, the absorption and digestion of nutrients in the body, the elimination of waste and the functionality of the liver as a digestive organ. In essence, the normal development and conditions of the digestive organs are part of the study of gastroenterology.

 

What conditions does gastroenterology treat?

6 of the most common conditions treated by the gastroenterologist in Guatemala are:

  • Helicobacter pylori
  • Colitis
  • Gastritis
  • Gastroesophageal reflux
  • Stomach cancer
  • Reflux cough

Helicobacter pylori is an infection caused by bacteria in the stomach. This infection is most common during childhood. It is also a common cause of peptic ulcers and may be present in more than 50% of the world’s population. Many people don’t realize they have a Helicobacter pylori infection because they have no symptoms. If you do have peptic ulcer symptoms, your doctor will probably test you for the Helicobacter pylori bacteria and treat you with antibiotics, if you are infected.

Colitis is an inflammation of the large intestine, or colon. The cause is usually unknown. Some causes may include: infections caused by a parasite or virus; food poisoning by bacteria; ulcerative colitis; Crohn’s disease; lack of blood flow or also called ischemic colitis; radiation colitis; pseudomembranous colitis; or necrotizing enterocolitis. The most common symptoms are: abdominal pain and bloating, which may be constant or intermittent; bloody stools; chills; constant urge to have a bowel movement; dehydration; diarrhea and fever.

Gastritis occurs when the stomach lining is inflamed or swollen. Acute gastritis only lasts a short time, while chronic gastritis can last for months or years. The most common causes of gastritis are: medications, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, aspirin, and other similar drugs; excessive alcohol consumption; and infection of the stomach by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori.

Gastroesophageal reflux is caused when stomach acid backs up regularly into the tube that connects the mouth and the esophagus, the latter being in the stomach. This backflow of acid can irritate the lining of the esophagus. From time to time, people have acid reflux. Gastroesophageal reflux is either mild acid reflux, which happens at least once or twice a week, or moderate to severe acid reflux, which happens at least once a week. Generally, people can control the discomfort of this disease with lifestyle changes or over-the-counter medications. But there are also severe cases, requiring stronger medication or surgery to relieve symptoms.

Stomach cancer usually starts in the cells that line the stomach and create mucus. This kind of cancer is called adenocarcinoma. In recent decades, rates of cancer in the main body of the stomach have dropped worldwide.  But during this same period, it became more common to get cancer in the upper stomach, where the stomach meets the lower esophagus. This part of the stomach is called the gastroesophageal junction.

Reflux coughing is extraesophageal manifestations and a symptom of gastro-oesophageal reflux, when there is already more severe damage. It can occur alone or after a burning sensation in the chest or throat. It is also common for a reflux cough to occur at night and can be chronic.

 

What treatments and procedures exist in gastroenterology?

2 of the most common treatments and procedures performed by the gastroenterologist in Guatemala are:

  • Colonoscopy
  • Endoscopy or gastroscopy

Colonoscopy is a test done to detect abnormalities or changes in the colon or large intestine and rectum. In a colonoscopy, a long, flexible tube called a colonoscope is inserted into the rectum. The tip of the tube has a very small video camera, which allows the doctor to see the inside of the colon. Before this test, you will need to clean and empty your colon. If there is any waste in the colon, it may make it hard to see the colon and rectum during the test. A colonoscopy can help your doctor examine possible causes of rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, chronic diarrhea, chronic constipation, and other intestinal problems. Colonoscopy can also remove polyps or other kinds of abnormal tissue through the colonoscope. In addition, tissue samples can be obtained for biopsies. If you are around 50, your doctor may recommend a colonoscopy and then every 10 years, or sometimes sooner, for colon cancer screening.

Endoscopy or gastroscopy, is a test used to visualize the upper part of the digestive system with a small camera on the tip of a long, flexible tube. A gastroenterologist performs an endoscopy to diagnose and, in some cases, treat diseases that affect the stomach, esophagus, and beginning of the small intestine. An endoscopy can help a doctor determine what is causing digestive symptoms, such as vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain, gastrointestinal bleeding, and difficulty swallowing. It can also be used to obtain tissue samples for a biopsy to detect disorders and diseases, such as bleeding, anemia, diarrhea, inflammation, or cancer of the digestive system. The doctor may insert medical instruments through the endoscope to treat conditions in the digestive system, such as widening a narrow esophagus, removing a foreign object, or removing a polyp.