Maintaining a Healthy Digestive System


Maintaining a Healthy Digestive System

Posted by Mark Hosko, MD in Health Information 02 Sep 2013

Digestive issues are a common complaint that we see here at Portland Urgent Care. Some of the most common digestive problems affecting millions of Americans are heartburn, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).  Approximately one-fifth of Americans experience heartburn-related symptoms once every week, usually as the result of ingesting particular foods or medications.  Other causes of heartburn include being overweight or overstressed.


The key to preventing heartburn is to know what causes it for you and avoiding those triggers.  Over-the-counter medication may be taken to treat heartburn, but if it occurs more than once a week, it could be the more serious condition GERD, or gastro-esophageal reflux disease, which can cause irreparable damage to the upper digestive tract if left untreated.


Inflammatory bowel disease includes Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and Barrett’s disease.  Inflammatory bowel disease is classified as an autoimmune disease because the body’s own immune system attacks the digestive system.  Depending on how severe the symptoms are, medical treatment may include immunosuppressants, steroids or antibiotics.  Emergency room alternatives such as Portland Urgent Care offer the minimal wait and low cost care that is ideal for those who suffer from frequent flare-ups.


Irritable bowel syndrome consists of abdominal pain and cramping, changes to bowel movements, and other symptoms.  It is the most common intestinal problem that results in a visit to the doctor.  While there is no test to identify IBS, blood tests and stool cultures can be done to rule out other problems.


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