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The Top 5 Common Digestive Conditions Explained (Part One)

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Professor Lovat
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It’s not something anyone wants to discuss, but having gastrointestinal problems is an increasingly common complaint. People needn’t suffer in silence, especially as some of these complaints can become a serious health issue if not addressed properly.

At Gastro London, we’ve put together a blog series that will look into the top five digestive health issues that we have come across and delve into the symptoms these issues have and how they can be treated. In part one, we will be looking at gallstones and Crohn’s disease.

Gallstones

The gallbladder is a small, pear shaped sack which secretes bile which is essential for digestion. Gallstones are solid, hard deposits which can become quite large if not detected. They are made up from cholesterol crystals and calcium salts which make up what is known as biliary sludge. This sludge is created when the chemicals in the gallbladder solidify and combine with the mucus in the bile.

When gallstones block the ducts which lead from your gallbladder to your intestines, you will feel an intense, sharp pain which is located in your upper right abdomen. You may begin to feel nauseous and the pain can come on suddenly with no warning.

woman is having stomach ache

To target the gallstones directly, there is the option of surgery available. Laparoscopic cholecystectomy, or keyhole surgery as it is more commonly known, is the procedure which is used the most when it comes to removing the gallbladder.

Tiny cuts are made in the abdomen whilst the patient is under anaesthetic and a small camera and surgical instruments are inserted into the cuts and will be used to remove the gallbladder. Using such small incisions allows the skin to heal with very little scarring.

Cholecystectomy or open gallbladder surgery is the more traditional approach to tackling gallstones. This type of surgery will require a longer recovery period, as it is a lot more invasive than keyhole surgery; requiring a larger incision.

Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease is part of a group of digestive diseases known as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). It affects around 1 in every 650 people in the UK, and is one of the most common forms of IBD. It can affect anywhere in the digestive system; from the mouth to the anus, but is most commonly found at the end of the small intestine known as the ileum and/or the colon. For reasons that are not entirely clear, Crohn’s disease is four times more common in Jews than in other people in the same population. It is presumably due to genetic factors. 

The main symptoms of Crohn’s are abdominal pain, urgent diarrhoea, fatigue and weight loss. If the alrge bowel is involved, there may also be rectal bleeding.  However, the severity of the symptoms fluctuates over time, which means that patients can go for long periods of time with mild or no flare-ups and then experience intense symptoms.

woman and doctor_smaller

Crohn’s is a chronic disease, and sadly that means that the patient may have to endure the symptoms for their whole life. Even though there is no cure, there are treatments that are available to help manage the symptoms. Indeed, some of the new treatments are able to revolutionise life for many patients so that they can live more or less entirely normally.

Each patient is different, and some may go through many different treatments before finding the right approach to tackle their IBD symptoms.

At the London Gastroenterology Centre, we are dedicated to providing the best possible treatment for any digestive issues and conditions that our patients may be suffering from. With our specialists on hand to personally assess each and every patient on a personal level, the quality of care that we provide is second to none. We are leading providers of private endoscopy in London, and will be able to put your mind at ease with our effective procedures and friendly staff, who are with you every step of the way. If you are looking for a colonoscopy consultant in London to assess your disease, we would be happy to help you. Please note that there are now many much less invasive ways of diagnosing and monitoring disease activity including a stool sample, called faecal calprotectin test as well as ultrasound and MRI scanning. We offer all these tests. 

If you suspect that you may be suffering from a digestive condition, or simply want to know more information on how we can help you with your digestive health needs, don’t delay in contacting us by calling 020 7183 7965.

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