Glossary

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anal fissure – a tiny tear in the anus that may cause pain, itching and/or bleeding, especially during a bowel movement

anemia – a deficiency of red blood cells in the body

antacids – a neutralizing medicine to counteract stomach acid

appendectomy – a surgical operation to remove the appendix

appendicitis – a condition of the appendix caused by scarring, infection or a blockage that may cause inflammation and pain

Barrett's esophagus – a condition where the squamous cells that normally line the esophagus transform into abnormal, columnar cells that cause long-term damage to the lining of the esophagus and acid reflux

bile – a fluid produced by the liver and stored in the gallbladder that is used to help digest fats

cirrhosis – a chronic condition caused by scarring and other damages to the liver making it difficult to remove poisonous toxins from the body

colonoscopy – a diagnostic procedure performed to examine the large intestine using a thin, long, flexible tube with a camera at the end

colostomy – a procedure performed to create an alternate route for stool to leave the body because of an abnormality in the large intestine or rectum. The colon will be re-routed to an opening made in the abdomen, where a collecting bag will be attached to collect the stool.

constipation – occurs when it is difficult to have a bowel movement due to hard, dry stools, or having less than three bowel movements in a week

Crohn's disease – a chronic condition that generally causes irritation in the lower small intestine or colon

diarrhea – a sudden, increase in frequency of loose stools compared to normal

diverticulitis – an illness that occurs when multiple small pouches in the large intestine become irritated or infected

endoscopy – a diagnostic test performed using an endoscope to examine the internal part of the digestive tract. 

Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) – a diagnostic test performed using an endoscope to examine the inside of the esophagus, stomach and upper part of the small intestine. Biopsies may also be performed during this procedure.

fecal fat test – a test performed to determine how well the body can break down and absorb fat by following a fat-free diet for a few days and then having a stool sample for assessment

gastroenterologist – a medical physician who specializes in the diagnosis, management and treatment of a variety of digestive diseases

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) – occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (the muscle between the stomach and esophagus) is too weak and often stays open when it should remain closed. When this happens, food, fluid and digestive fluids from the stomach backs up into the esophagus causing inflammation and discomfort.

H2 blockers – medications used to decrease the amount of stomach acid to reduce the discomfort caused by GERD

hernia – a portion of the intestine that protrudes through the abdominal muscle

indigestion – nausea, bloating, gas and/or heartburn that occurs as a result of poor digestion

laparoscope – a tube instrument with a camera attached to the end that captures images of the internal organs to help detect potential problems

peptic ulcer – a sore in the lining of the esophagus, stomach or beginning of the small intestine (duodenum)

sigmoidoscopy – a diagnostic test performed using a thin, flexible tube with a camera attached to the end to capture images of the rectum and lower large intestine to detect potential problems

ulcerative colitis – a disease that irritates the lining of the large intestine and rectum causing ulcers and discomfort. This is also known as Inflammatory Bowel Disease.