Published on March 16, 2017

Digestive diseases: Take them seriously

You might not think much about digestive diseases.

Unless you get one.

Woman with stomach painThe digestive system is made up of the gastrointestinal tract—the long muscular tube that extends from the mouth to the anus—along with the liver, pancreas and gallbladder.

Digestive diseases affect millions of Americans. Some of these disorders are fairly minor. But many can be serious—even life-threatening. For example:

  • Some stomach ulcers can cause severe blood loss.
  • Hepatitis C attacks the liver, which can scar it and cause cancer.
  • Crohn’s disease often causes blockages in the bowel.
  • Gastric reflux disease raises the risk of precancerous changes in the esophagus.
  • Some polyps in the colon can turn cancerous if not removed.

That’s why “it’s crucial to take digestive diseases seriously,” says Mervyn Danilewitz, MD, Section Chief of Gastroenterology at Mercy Philadelphia. “It’s also why you need expert care if you face a concerning digestive disorder or symptom.”