Gastrointestinal Disorder Treatment
What are gastrointestinal disorders?
Gastrointestinal disorders are conditions that involve the gastrointestinal tract. This is made up of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and rectum, as well as the digestive organs which are the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas. Some disorders can be treated by lifestyle and diet changes, whereas others need treatment and sometimes, surgery.
What are the different types of gastrointestinal disorders?
The following are some common types of gastrointestinal disorders:
● Coeliac disease (allergy to gluten).
● Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS.
● Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).
● Crohn’s disease.
● Ulcerative colitis.
● Anal fissures.
● Colon polyps.
What are the causes of and risk factors for gastrointestinal disorders?
There are numerous causes and risk factors for gastrointestinal disorders such as:
● High fat diets.
● Eating foods that irritate the digestive system.
● Changes to routine.
● Bacterial infections.
● Genetic diseases.
● Crohn’s disease.
● Radiation therapy.
● Ulcerative colitis.
● Alcohol abuse.
● Abdominal trauma.
Did you know?
The prevalence of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) has risen considerably over the past decade in Singapore.¹
What are the possible complications of gastrointestinal disorders?
The possible complications are dependent on which type of gastrointestinal disorder you are suffering from. Often, the most significant complication is the impact on quality of life resulting from digestive disorders. Your gastroenterologist will discuss all details of your individual case with you, including any potential complications.
When should I see a specialist for gastrointestinal disorders?
A gastroenterologist is specially trained to treat disorders of the gastrointestinal tract. It is recommended that you visit a gastroenterologist if you are experiencing the following symptoms:
● Abdominal bloating.
● Severe abdominal pain.
● Excessive gas.
● Persistent or recurrent diarrhea.
● Pale-coloured stools.
● Change in bowel habits.
● Uncontrollable bowel movements.
● Rectal bleeding.
● Dark urine.
● Persistent or recurrent vomiting.
● Loss of appetite or weight.
● Esophageal pain.
● Lethargy or fatigue.
How should I prepare for my appointment?
To make the most of your appointment, come prepared. Bring along your thorough medical history and be ready to discuss your general health, lifestyle, and symptoms, in detail. Your gastroenterologist will want to know about your symptoms, how long you have been experiencing them and how regularly. It is a good idea to prepare a symptom diary so that you can refer to it during the consultation, as needed.
In addition, make a list of your questions and concerns. As well as discussing your symptoms and personal health history, your specialist will conduct a thorough physical exam and order a variety of diagnostic tests to help in the diagnosis and treatment of your condition.
How do specialists diagnose gastrointestinal disorders?
Gastroenterologists use a variety of diagnostic tests to ensure the correct diagnosis and treatment. Initially, the specialist performs a comprehensive physical examination and orders extensive blood tests and stool sample analysis. Other diagnostic tools include renal function test, endoscopy, ultrasound, CT scan, MRI, colonoscopy, barium X-ray, breath test, pH monitoring, and esophageal manometry.
How do I maintain my gastrointestinal health?
Maintaining good gastrointestinal health is essential in preventing digestive disorders. By following the advice below, you will help to avoid the common symptoms of an unhealthy gastrointestinal tract.
● Eat 7 servings of fruit and vegetables per day.
● Choose whole grains.
● Limit red meat, pork, lamb, and processed meats, in favour of chicken and fish.
● Favour different cooking methods such as steaming, poaching, stewing, braising, and boiling, instead of grilling and frying.
● Limit foods with added sugars.
● Limit high-fat foods, including meat with skin, cheese, and butter.
 Siah KTH, Wong RK, Chan YH, Ho KY, Gwee K-A. Prevalence of Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Singapore and Its Association with Dietary, Lifestyle, and Environmental Factors. Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility. 2016;22(4):670-676. doi:10.5056/jnm15148.