Conditions

If you are experiencing symptoms of a digestive disorder such as cramping, bloating, indigestion, and heartburn, our gastroenterologists can help.

There are many conditions that can affect the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Some of these conditions can be acute (sudden symptoms) or chronic (ongoing symptoms). These conditions can range from non-life-threatening to very serious. A trained gastroenterologist can correctly diagnose your symptoms.

Anne Arundel Gastroenterology Associates provides expert care for disorders of the digestive tract including colon and rectal disease, ulcers, stomach disorders, Crohn's disease, colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and liver and pancreatic disease. Our board-certified, fellowship-trained gastroenterologists are committed to getting you the treatment you need to get back to your best health.

We offer the latest state-of-the-art technology in diagnostic tests to evaluate your symptoms and correctly identify your condition. The following is a list of symptoms and conditions that we can investigate:

Abdominal Pain

The cause of abdominal problems can be hard to pinpoint, as some minor and serious abdominal problems can start with the same few symptoms. The severity of your pain and its location may help determine what is causing the pain. Symptoms of abdominal pain include:

Generalized pain: May occur in one half of the abdomen or the whole abdomen. Generalized pain can occur with many different illnesses and will usually heal without the need for medical treatment.

For example, indigestion and an upset stomach are common problems that can cause generalized pain, but don't require immediate medical attention, as over-the-counter treatments can help relieve discomfort.

Generalized mild pain or cramping pain that increases in severity over several hours may be a symptom of a blockage of the intestines (bowel obstruction).

Localized pain: Located in a single area of the abdomen, localized pain that comes on suddenly and gets worse with time is more likely to be a symptom of a serious condition, such as inflammation of an internal organ. For example, the pain of appendicitis may start as generalized pain, which often moves (localizes) to a single area of the abdomen.

Alternatively, pain from gallbladder disease or peptic ulcer disease often starts in one area of the abdomen and stays in that same location.

Cramping: A type of pain that comes and goes (intermittent) or that changes in position or severity. Cramping is rarely serious if it is relieved by passing gas or stool. Many women have cramping pain with their menstrual periods.

Generalized cramping pain is usually not a cause for concern unless it gets more severe, lasts longer than 24 hours, or localizes. Cramping that starts suddenly with diarrhea or other minor health problems can be quite painful but is usually not serious.

Diverticular Disease

Diverticulosis occurs when pouches form on the wall of the colon (called diverticula). Diverticulosis is common, especially after the age of 40, and rarely causes problems. However, when these pouches become inflamed or infected, the condition is called diverticulitis, which can be very painful. Diverticulitis may cause severe abdominal pain, fever, nausea, bloating and gas, and diarrhea or constipation.

While doctors aren't sure what causes diverticula to form in the colon, risk factors include aging, obesity, smoking, lack of exercise, diet high in animal fat and low in fiber, and medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Mild diverticulitis can be treated with rest, changes in your diet, and antibiotics. You may require surgery if you have complications such as perforation, abscess, peritonitis, or bowel obstruction, or you experience recurring episodes of diverticulitis.

Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids are swollen veins located around the anus or in the lower rectum. Reports estimate that about half of adults have experienced symptoms of hemorrhoids by the age of 50.

Common causes of hemorrhoids include straining to have a bowel movement, chronic diarrhea or constipation, prolonged sitting on the toilet, low fiber diet, obesity, pregnancy, and inflammatory bowel disease.

One of the most common causes of rectal bleeding, hemorrhoids can either be internal or external. Internal hemorrhoids develop within the anus or rectum, while external hemorrhoids develop outside of the anus.

Internal hemorrhoids are typically not painful, and bleeding may be the only indication they exist. External hemorrhoids may cause pain, severe itching, and difficulty sitting. Sometimes internal hemorrhoids may prolapse, or swell within the rectum and bulge out through the anus. This may cause itching and pain as well as bleeding.

Hemorrhoids often go away on their own without treatment. For persistent bleeding or painful internal hemorrhoids, your doctor may recommend treatment with a minimally invasive procedure such as hemorrhoid banding or infrared coagulation of hemorrhoids.

Lactose Intolerance

Lactose intolerance occurs when the small intestine does not make enough of an enzyme called lactase. Your body needs lactase to break down lactose, a type of natural sugar found in milk and dairy products. If there is insufficient lactase, the body cannot easily digest lactose.

Lactose intolerance is not the same thing as a food allergy to milk. Milk allergy is caused by an allergic reaction to the protein in milk and is most common in children under the age of 5.

Lactose intolerance can cause uncomfortable symptoms such as gas, stomach pain, bloating, and diarrhea. Some people who have lactose intolerance cannot digest any milk products, while others can eat or drink small amounts of milk products without a problem.

Lactose intolerance most commonly runs in families. Symptoms usually develop during the teen or adult years. There is no cure, but it can be managed by avoiding dairy and eating non-dairy products that contain the right amount of calcium your body needs.

Comprehensive Care for GI Conditions in the Annapolis Metro Area

Symptoms and conditions of the GI tract can be very disruptive to your daily life, but many are treatable and/or manageable if diagnosed correctly by a gastroenterologist. Our doctors utilize decades of experience and multiple resources available to keep you informed.

For more information about conditions of the GI tract, take a look at our patient education center.

Anne Arundel Gastroenterology Associates has offices located in Annapolis, Pasadena, Bowie, and Kent Island, Maryland. Don't wait any longer to find out what we can do for you. Call (410) 224-2116 for an appointment with one of our gastroenterologists or request an appointment online.