Gastroenterology is the speciality of medicine that entails the diseases affecting the digestive tract, including the oesophagus, stomach, small bowel, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, bile ducts and large bowel.
A Gastroenterologist is a doctor who specialises in disorders of the digestive tract.
The Oesophagus is the food pipe that connects the mouth to the stomach. It’s function is to push food down into the stomach by contracting and relaxing muscles.
The Stomach is where food is broken down (digested) and acid is released and the digestion process starts.
The Small bowel (duodenum, jejunum and ileum) is where digested food is absorbed and sent to parts of the body to make the building blocks needed. Bile and pancreatic enzymes are released in the beginning of the small bowel to help digestion and absorption.
The Large Bowel (colon) is where water is reabsorbed and waste products are excreted from the digestive tract.
The Liver stores nutrients and makes building blocks the body needs. It also detoxifies drugs. Bile is made in the liver to help digest fatty foods and are sent via the bile ducts to the gallbladder to be concentrated and released when necessary.
The Pancreas makes hormones to control blood sugar as well as digestive enzymes that help with digestion and absorption.
Diseases of the Digestive Tract can present in different ways.
Do you have abdominal pain, excessive belching, excessive wind and bloating, variable bowel habit (diarrhoea and constipation) rectal bleeding or weight loss?
Make an appointment to see a specialist to discuss your symptoms further.