Gastrointestinal (GI) diseases refer to diseases involving the gastrointestinal tract, namely the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine and rectum, and the accessory organs of digestion, the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas.
Gastrointestinal disorders can be both functional and structural.
Functional gastrointestinal disorders are those in which the GI tract looks normal but doesn't work properly. They are the most common problems affecting the GI tract (including the colon and rectum). Diarrhea, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), erosive esophagitis, and gastroesophageal reflux disease are several common examples.
Structural gastrointestinal disorders are those in which the bowel looks abnormal and doesn't work properly. Sometimes, the structural abnormality needs to be removed surgically. Common examples of structural GI disorders include hemorrhoids, diverticular disease, colon polyps, colon cancer, and crohn's disease (inflammatory bowel disease).
Many of these disorders can be prevented or minimized by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, practicing good bowel habits, and submitting to cancer screening.
A Colonoscopy is recommended for average risk patients at age 50. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps, a colonoscopy may be recommended at a younger age, typically at 10 years younger than the affected family member.
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*content referenced from ClevelandClinic.org