Published on July 17, 2018

Mercy Philadelphia GI experts can help

GI conditions can affect your well-being and disrupt your life.

woman holding abdomenSome conditions can be uncomfortable and, in some cases, downright dangerous.

So it’s good to know that you can turn to the experts at Mercy Philadelphia for your digestive needs. The Mercy Gastroenterology specialists evaluate, diagnose and treat many digestive problems at the Heartburn and Reflux Center at Mercy Philadelphia.

“A digestive problem can have a big impact on your health and quality of life,” says Ronald Concha-Parra, MD, a Mercy gastroenterologist. “There’s no reason to just put up with it. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of a digestive problem, tell a doctor. He or she may refer you to a gastroenterologist. We are experts at treating the most common and the most complex digestive disorders.”

Common digestive complaints Mercy can help treat include:

  1. Acid reflux (heartburn). That’s when stomach acids move backward up into the esophagus—causing burning behind the breastbone and a bitter taste in your throat. Frequent heartburn and trouble swallowing (it feels like food is getting stuck in your throat) can signal a more serious form of heartburn called GERD, short for gastroesophageal reflux disease. Untreated, GERD can damage the esophagus and increase the risk of cancer.

    Doctors can use a number of tests to diagnose acid reflux problems, including an x-ray test called an upper GI series (which involves drinking a barium solution) or an endoscopy (a lighted viewing tube is passed through the mouth into the stomach).

    Doctors treat heartburn or GERD to ease symptoms and heal the esophagus. Options include lifestyle changes—some as simple as not lying down right after eating; taking nonprescription and prescription medicines; and sometimes having surgery.

  2. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). People with IBS have bouts of diarrhea or constipation with abdominal discomfort and bloating. When diarrhea strikes, they may have to get to a toilet quickly. IBS does not lead to other diseases. But living with it can be stressful.

    Treatment for IBS is aimed at easing symptoms. A doctor may suggest:
      • Making dietary changes, such as eating more easily tolerated fibrous foods and limiting foods (often gassy foods) that worsen IBS symptoms
      • Managing stress, which doesn’t cause IBS but can affect symptoms
      • Taking medications to treat diarrhea or abdominal pain
  3. Ulcerative colitis (UC). This is an inflammation of the lining of the large intestine. Many people with UC have mild to moderate symptoms, like bloody diarrhea, cramps and an urgent need to use the toilet. More severe UC can cause fever, weight loss, loss of appetite and tiredness, for example.

    Your symptoms and the result of certain tests (such as a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy to check the large intestine) help doctors diagnose UC.

    UC is often a lifelong condition, and it can increase the risk of colon cancer. But medicines can help bring the disease into symptom-free remission. Some people need surgery to remove the colon and rectum because of life-threatening complications, colon cancer, pre-cancer or severe medication side effects.

No GI problem is too big or too small

This is just a snapshot of the many conditions Mercy Philadelphia GI experts can treat. Whether you need a diagnosis of your symptoms or are looking for a second opinion, call 1.877.GO MERCY to find a digestive health specialist near you.