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To find a specific term or abbreviation, click the starting letter of the term or abbreviation.
A - C
Also called the "belly," this is the part of the body that includes the area approximately from the chest to the hips.
Scar tissue that forms on the external surface of the intestine causing it to become stuck to an adjacent structure. Adhesions may cause partial obstructions by deforming part of the intestinal tract and may form after an abdominal operation.
Adrenal glands produce insufficient quantities of regulatory hormones leading to low blood pressure, low blood sugar and fatigue (weakness) particularly during times of illness.
Adrenal insufficiency related to long-term systemic steroid use. Symptoms similar to primary adrenal insufficiency.
A protein that induces an immediate (IgE) or late (cell mediated) allergic reaction.
Sneezing, stuffy and/or runny nose triggered by inhaled allergens.
A physician who specializes in diagnosis and treatment of allergic disorders, including asthma, allergic skin rashes, allergic rhinitis, and food allergies.
An abnormal immune system response to any stimulus that can take any of 4 different types of reaction characteristics (Immediate/IgE-Mediated, Cytotoxic, Immune Complex-Mediated or Delayed/Cell-Mediated); the classic working definition used by most physicians only includes immediate response allergic reactions (IgE-Mediated).
Amino acids are the building blocks of all proteins. Some amino acids also function as chemical signals, such as neurotransmitters.
The digestive enzyme needed to digest starches (complex carbohydrates). This enzyme is produced by the pancreas and is also found in the saliva.
A crack in the skin tissue of the anus. Fissures may bleed and become irritated or infected with bowel movements, therefore good hygiene habits are necessary.
Anemia refers to low red blood cell and low hemoglobin level count. There are many causes of anemia, the most common of which is iron deficiency.
Loss of appetite from any cause. It can have physiologic and/or psychologic components.
A psychological disorder of body image in which the individual feels overweight regardless of actual weight. Persons affected by this disorder have a fear of gaining weight and may use excessive exercise, laxatives and/or skipping of meals in order to achieve what they perceive as an ideal body weight and image. Complications may include nutritional deficiencies, osteoporosis, organ dysfunction or failure, and in extreme cases, coma and/or death.
A medication that blocks the action of histamine in the body. Typical uses of Histamine subtype 1 blockers (H1 Blockers) include stopping or decreasing allergic reactions such as hives, allergic rhinitis, and/or eczema, decreasing nausea and dizziness associated with motion sickness or chemotherapy drugs, and helping with sleep problems. Non-sedating antihistamines are relatively new and are used for daytime allergy sufferers. Typical uses for histamine subtype 2 blockers (H2 Blockers) which block acid effects include stomach ulcers, heartburn and GERD.
An opening in the rectum that allows stool to move out of the body (bowel movement). Common problems with the anus are hemorrhoids, abscesses, and fissures (cracks), and cancer.
An infection of the appendix with symptoms such as severe pain in the lower right part of the abdomen, nausea, vomiting, and/or fever; surgical removal of the appendix should be done immediately to prevent a bursting of the infected appendix.
The appendix is found at the junction between the large intestine and the small intestine, and is usually found in the lower right side of the abdomen. It has no known function. It is removed surgically if it becomes inflamed/infected (appendicitis).
The part of the large intestine located on the right side of the abdomen that attaches the cecum with the hepatic flexure at the start of the transverse colon.
A collection of fluid in the abdomen.
A disorder causing the airways to become inflamed and narrowed due to mucous production and leads to symptoms of wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing and chest tightness. Asthma is can be triggered by an inhaled allergen.
Absence of symptoms.
A disease in which a part of the body's immune system attacks its own cells that make up part of the body, such as skin, connective or joint tissue, intestinal tissue, nerve cells , etc.
A test in which X-rays are taken after one has swallowed some a liquid radio-contrast material called barium. The test is used to diagnose and determine the extent of swallowing problems. See also Upper GI X-Ray.
A condition in which the inner lining of the esophagus becomes damaged due to stomach acid refluxing into the lower part of the esophagus. The condition is believed to increase the chances of getting esophageal cancer.
A digestive fluid produced by the liver and stored in the gallbladder. It is needed for proper digestion of fats. Bile is re-absorbed in the small intestine and recycled back to the liver.
A tube that connects the liver and gallbladder to the small intestine. Its function is to allow bile to flow into the small intestine.
Referring to any duct or organ in the biliary system; the bile ducts, liver and/or gallbladder.
A tissue sample. In the case of digestive diseases, the biopsy is usually painless and is taken from the inner layers of the esophagus, stomach, small and large intestines during endoscopy and colonoscopy procedures. See also Full Thickness Biopsy.
A puffing up of the abdomen, usually caused by excess gas that has accumulated in the small and/or large intestines. Lactose intolerance, irritable bowel syndrome, and other intestinal disorders may increase one's likelihood of experiencing bloating. Gassy foods such as beans, peanuts, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale and related foods may lead to bloating from fermentation of a certain carbohydrate that is high in these foods. Also, improper digestion of other nutrients (fats, carbohydrates, proteins) may cause bloating.
See DEXA Scan.
A species of yeast that is normally present on skin and in intestinal contents. It can cause superficial infections of the lining of the mouth (called thrush), esophagus, vagina, and skin during or shortly after a courses of antibiotics. More serious infections of tissues or the blood stream occur in immunocompromised individuals.
Any substance that has a molecular structure based on sugar, including sugar, glucose, fructose, etc., as well as more complex starches found in plant food sources (fruits, grains, vegetables, etc.).
See CT Scan.
Complete Blood Count ( blood test that includes a count of all the red and white blood cells, platelets as well as hemoglobin, and hematocrit. Statistics about the red blood cells are also calculated and included in the test results.
The cecum is the start of the large intestine. Undigested food from the small intestine enter the cecum, and digestion is continued through the large intestine. The cecum is located in the lower right side of the abdomen, and the appendix is attached to the bottom of the cecum.
An autoimmune disease that damages the inner portion of the small intestine (duodenum), and causes malabsorbtion, causing malnourishment. The reaction is caused by eating foods that have gluten in them. Gluten is found in wheat, rye, and barley, and possibly can contaminate oats. Symptoms of celiac disease include nausea, vomiting, intestinal cramping, and malabsorption. These symptoms subside when gluten containing grains are not avoided. The inside of the small intestine has small, finger-like projections called villi, that help with absorption of nutrients. Flattened villi are often associated with the disease, and their appearance on biopsy/endoscopic evaluation is considered the gold standard for diagnosis in a person who is consuming gluten containing foods. Blood antibodies to the gluten and/or gliadin may also assist with diagnosis.
Period of time during which signs and symptoms of disease are absent.
Inflammation of the tissues of the large intestine.
See Large Intestine.
A procedure in which a long flexible tube is inserted into the rectum. The tube has a light and video camera on the end of it, which allows view of the entire colon, and part of the small intestine. If needed, tissue biopsies of the inside of the colon can be taken, and polyps can be removed through the scope. The colon must be cleaned out before the procedure, to allow a good view of the colon. This is done by using a laxative, driningk liquids, and no food or drink 12 hours before the colonoscopy. A sedative is usually given prior to the procedure.
A surgically created hole in the abdomen in which a part of the colon is brought through to the skin surface. A bag must be worn over the hole to collect bowel movements. A temporary colostomy may be needed to allow some bowel tissue to heal after chronic inflammation has been treated.
A combination of medications that help you relax (sedatives), and not feel pain (anesthetic). When under conscious sedation people are able to respond to commands, but usually do not remember the procedure or feel pain. This is used for minor procedures or surgeries.
Also called Regional Enteritis, and Regional Ileitis. A chronic inflammatory condition of the digestive track. It is a form of inflammatory bowel disease. It can affect anywhere from the mouth to the anus, and commonly affects the small intestine. It can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea and bleeding from the rectum.
Computed Tomography (CT) Scan, also called Computerized Axial Tomography (CAT Scan), is a special type of X-Ray that results in a series of cross-sectional pictures. CT images are able to show more detail than a regular x-ray. They can show bone and soft tissues, like muscles, vessels, and organs. Sometimes a dye (contrast), is used to help certain areas show up better. The dye is either given through an IV, swallowed, or given through the rectum.
Excess cortisol in the body. This may be caused by the body producing too much cortisol, or from taking too much corticosteroid medications.
Episodic bouts of vomiting, sometimes severe, interspersed with periods of wellness
D - F
The part of the large intestine located on the left side of the abdomen that connects the transverse colon at the splenic flexure with the sigmoid colon at the sigmoid flexure.
Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry (DEXA Scan), a special type of X-ray that can tell the density of bones. The test is painless, just like getting an X-Ray. The typical areas scanned during the test include the hip bone, lumbar spine, and/or the wrist or forearm.
A muscular and connective tissue structure separating the chest and abdominal cavities. The diaphragm contracts and expands in correlation with the lungs during breathing.
All of the muscular organs involved in eating, digesting foods and eliminating solid food wastes. This includes the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine.
Inflammation of the duodenum.
The upper part of the small intestine that connects the lower part of the stomach with the jejunum.
Abnormal motility). In reference to the GI tract, food moves more slowly than normal through the esophagus, stomach and/or intestines.
Discomfort in the stomach marked by symptoms of nausea, loss of appetite, bloating, belching and/or flatulence, change in bowel habits, heartburn, reflux, and/or a gnawing or burning sensation in the stomach area. Causes may include insufficient digestive enzymes or HCl, ulcer, esophageal spasms, intestinal obstruction or other motility problem, IBS, gallstones, lactose intolerance, heart problems, or other causes.
Difficulty swallowing liquid or solid food through any part of the esophagus.
Inflammatory condition of the skin with redness, scaling and often itching. May be related to allergies, infection, diabetes or environmental changes.
Swelling or water retention.
EoE Eosinophilic Esophagitis
Essential Fatty Acid (EFA) The nutritional component of fats and oils found in many foods. There are different types of fatty acids, the most common of which are Omega-3 and Omega-6. Fatty acids are converted in the body to numerous substances critical to our health. Omega-3 fatty acids may be converted into anti-inflammatory immune system components, and Omega-6 fatty acids get converted into anti- and pro-inflammatory immune system components. Consuming these two fatty acids in the proper balance is important for optimum health.
Nutritionally complete formulas whose protein component is provided as amino acids to reduce the chance of an allergic reaction. Formulas are used for tube feedings and to decrease the symptoms of food allergy, Eosinophilic Enteritis, Inflammatory Bowel Disease and other diseases.
A diet in which specific food antigens have been eliminated in order to decrease the chance of having an allergic reaction.
Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA), a type of blood test in which subclasses of immunoglobulins may be detected; the test is used to detect IgE-Mediated (immediate reaction) and IgG-Mediated (delayed reaction) allergies and is helpful in diagnosing some autoimmune diseases such as celiac disease, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, viral illness and many others.
A tube with a light and a camera on the end of it that is used to view the esophagus, stomach, part of the duodenum, part of the terminal ileum and the entire large intestine. Endoscopes usually also contain a biopsy aspiration port for collection of tissue samples during endoscopic procedures. See also Colonoscopy, Endoscopy, Esophagoscopy, and Sigmoidoscopy.
A procedure in which an endoscope is passed through the mouth into the esophagus, stomach and part of the duodenum. Biopsies may be taken of the mucosal layers during this procedure. The patient is typically sedated during the procedure. The only preparation is avoiding all food and liquids for at least 4-8 hours before the procedure.
Administration of medication through the rectum for the purpose of clearing out the bowel Nutrition feedings through a tube that either goes through the mouth, nose, stomach or small intestine. The feedings are made of a special liquid that may contain all the nutrients a person needs. Nutrition obtained through the digestive system, either eaten through the mouth or through a feeding tube. See also GJ, GT, JT, ND, NG, and Tube Feeding.
Inflammation in the tissues of the digestive system, especially the small intestine.
Enzymes are a type of catalyst, which means they speed up chemical reactions. In the case of digestive enzymes, they speed up the digestion or breaking down of food into nutritional components such as fatty acids, amino acids, sugars, vitamins and minerals. When the organs which produce digestive enzymes are not producing sufficient quantities, a supplemental form of digestive enzymes may be needed for proper digestion to occur. Some metabolic disorders involve the lack of a certain enzyme needed for processing or metabolizing specific food components.
A type of white blood cell that is specifically involved in allergic reactions (IgE-Mediated), and also seems to be involved in some parasitic infections.
A disease involving patchy infiltration of one or more layers of the large intestine with eosinophils. See also Eosinophilic Enteritis.
A chronic, immune/antigen mediated, esophageal disease characterized clinically by symptoms related to esophageal dysfunction and histologically by eosinophil-predominant inflammation.
A disease involving patchy infiltration of one or more layers of the stomach and/or small intestine with eosinophils. See also Eosinophilic Enteritis.
Retrograde Cholangiopancreatograph (ERCP), a diagnostic test that uses an endoscope to look at the tubes that drain the liver, gallbladder and pancreas. This is done to look at the health of the tubes and to fix any problems such as a stone blocking the tube or duct.
A red blood cell.
See Schatzki's Ring.
An area of narrowing of the esophageal lumen. See also Stricture.
A membrane that appears in the esophagus, causing dysphagia. The web may be broken via an endoscopic procedure.
Inflammation in the tissue of the esophagus.
A procedure in which an endoscope is inserted into the esophagus through the mouth for diagnostic purposes or to perform antireflux surgery, dilate rings or strictures, break up webs, or other necessary procedures.
The muscular tube that connects the back of the mouth to the top of the stomach that carries food from the mouth to the stomach.
Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR), also called "Sed Rate," the rate at which red blood cells in a measured sample settle in a specific amount of time. The higher the ESR, the faster the red blood cells settled. An elevated ESR usually indicates inflammation. The ESR is a general measure of inflammation, therefore it does not say anything about the location of the inflammation.
The cause or triggering factor for development of a specific disease. When a specific etiology is not obvious, the condition is said to be idiopathic.
A general term used for insufficient growth (by standard growth charts) or inadequate weight gain caused by a variety of medical and psychosocial conditions.
A dietary substance that is broken down in the body to fatty acids. See also EFA.
When feces, or stool, obstructs colon or rectum, and does not allow waste to pass. It is most commonly seen in people with long-term constipation, and can cause bloating and abdominal pain. This condition usually requires a stool softener or manual disimpaction to alleviate the problem. A diet high in fiber along with sufficient water intake (8-10 glasses of water per day) will usually prevent fecal impaction.
An abnormal tract formed between loops of bowel, the bowel and other organs or the bowel and the skin surface. Fistulas are normally associated with severe Crohn's Disease, but might also occur with other inflammatory conditions. Antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications are typically required for treatment, and placement of a drain or surgical treatment may also be necessary.
A time during which active disease is present.
Passing gas through the anus. May be accompanied by bloating, indigestion and/or other symptoms.
A normal bend in a tubular body structure such as the large intestines.
G - I
A saclike organ located just underneath the liver, the gallbladder serves as a storage location for bile that the liver produces.
Inflammation of the stomach.
A physician who specializes in diagnosing and treating disorders of the digestive system, also including disorders of the liver, spleen and pancreas.
(GERD) A disease in which acid reflux and heartburn occur frequently over an extended period of time.
Abnormally slow emptying of the contents of the stomach.
See Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease.
, also called the digestive system.
Gastrojejunostomy Tube (GJ or GJ-Tube), a tube that is surgically inserted through the skin into the stomach and runs to the small intestine. This is done so that liquid food may be pumped directly into the small intestine, bypassing the esophagus and stomach.
A type of protein found in wheat, rye, barley and possibly oats. People with gluten sensitiviy, gluten intolerance, and Celiac Disease have an adverse reaction when they eat foods that contain gluten
Synonym for celiac disease.
Gastric Tube , a tube that has been surgically inserted through the skin into the stomach so that liquid food may be pumped directly into the stomach bypassing the esophagus.
(helicobacter pylori) A bacteria that can cause ulcers in the stomach and duodenum. People with h. pylori infection may not have symptoms, or the may experience abdominal pain, nausea, vomitting, or freqent burping.
Hydrochloric acid (HCL) A component of gastric acid that is produced by cells in the lining of the stomach. This acid helps digest food in the stomach.
See Acid Reflux and GERD.
Referring to the liver.
The bend in the large intestine that is located on the right side of the abdomen just under the liver and connects the ascending colon with the transverse colon.
A condition in which a small part of the upper stomach pushes through the diaphragm. A sliding hiatal hernia is usually asymptomatic or only causes occasional minor heartburn. A non-sliding hiatal hernia may easily become strangulated, thus requiring surgical correction to prevent potentially serious complications.