Some interesting facts that might get you thinking.
Digestive Diseases Facts and Statistics
- Twenty million Americans suffer from chronic digestive diseases.
- Digestive diseases necessitate 25% of all surgical operations.
- Digestive diseases are one of the most prevalent causes of disability in the workforce.
- More Americans are hospitalized with digestive diseases than any other condition.
- Digestive diseases rank third among illnesses in total economic cost in the United States.
- Fourteen million cases of acute digestive diseases are treated in this country each year, including one-third of all malignancies and some of the most common acute infections.
- Digestive diseases represent one of the Nation’s most serious health problems in terms of discomfort and pain, personal expenditures for treatment, working hours lost, and mortality.
- Colorectal cancer is the 2nd leading cause of cancer death among American men and women – and is responsible for over 51,000 deaths annually.
What Is a Digestive Disease?
The digestive tract is a series of joined and coiled hollow tubes that stretch from the mouth to the anus. Digestive diseases range from the occasional upset stomach to the more life-threatening colon cancer and encompass disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, the liver, the gallbladder, and the pancreas. A digestive disease may be acute and self-limiting, chronic and debilitating, or sudden and devastating.
What Causes a Digestive Disease?
The cause and natural history of many digestive diseases remain unknown, but a digestive disease may develop congenitally or from multiple factors such as stress, fatigue, diet, or smoking. Abusing alcohol imposes the most significant risk for digestive disorders, significantly increasing the risk of esophageal, colorectal, and liver cancers. Depending on the diagnosis, treatment options include prescription and non-prescription medications, surgery, watchful waiting, dietary changes, exercise, chemotherapy, and home remedies such as castor oil.
Who Develops a Digestive Disease?
Each year 62 million Americans are diagnosed with a digestive disorder. The incidence and prevalence of most digestive diseases increase with age. Other exceptions include hemorrhoids, inflammatory bowel disease, and chronic liver disease, which occur more commonly among young and middle-aged adults.
How Are Digestive Diseases Diagnosed?
Most digestive diseases are very complex, with subtle symptoms. Because of this, patients may undergo extensive and expensive diagnostic tests. Reaching a diagnosis requires a thorough and accurate medical history and physical examination. Once complete, a doctor may recommend laboratory tests, including a blood test, an upper or lower GI series, an ultrasound, and endoscopic examinations of the colon, esophagus, stomach, or small intestine. For more complicated cases, a doctor may order more sophisticated tests such as a CAT (computerized axial tomography) scan or MRI.
Signs that Indicate You Should See a Gastroenterologist
If you experience one or more of the following symptoms, you should make arrangements to see a Gastroenterologist right away.
- A noticeable change in bowel habits
- Blood on or in the stool that is either bright or dark
- Unusual or persistent abdominal/gas pains
- Very narrow stool
- A feeling that the bowel has not completely emptied after passing stool
- Unexplained weight loss
- Frequent or persistent nausea/vomiting
- Constant Fatigue
- Anemia (low blood count)