Digestive System

What is Digestion?

Digestion is the process by which food and liquid are broken down into smaller parts so that the body can use them to build and nourish cells. Read the Digestive System Overview ›

What is Acute Appendicitis?

Acute appendicitis is a rapidly progressing inflammation of a small part of the large intestine called the appendix. The appendix is a pouch-like structure located in the lower right quadrant of the abdomen near the area where the small intestine joins the large intestine. The exact function of the appendix is not known.

Acute appendicitis is a common and serious condition that requires immediate surgery for treatment. In acute appendicitis, the appendix swells and begins to fill with rapidly growing bacteria and pus. This results in the hallmark symptoms of acute appendicitis including pain in the right lower area of the abdomen and fever. However, not all people with acute appendicitis will experience typical symptoms.

Know the Signs, Symptoms, Causes and Treatment of Acute Appendicitis

What is Pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis is the inflammation and autodigestion of the pancreas. Autodigestion describes a process whereby pancreatic enzymes destroy its own tissue leading to inflammation. The inflammation may be sudden (acute) or ongoing (chronic). Acute pancreatitis usually involves a single "attack," after which the pancreas returns to normal. Severe acute pancreatitis can be life threatening. In chronic pancreatitis, permanent damage occurs to the pancreas and its function, often leading to fibrosis (scarring).

The most common causes of pancreatitis include the following:

  • Gallstones that block the pancreatic duct

  • Alcohol abuse, which can lead to blockage of the small pancreatic ductules

Other causes of pancreatitis include the following:

Know the Signs, Symptoms, Causes and Treatment of Pancreatitis

Preventing Digestive Trouble

Eggs, meat and poultry not cooked to a safe internal temperature can cause food-borne illness. Using a meat thermometer to make sure these foods reach the following recommended internal temperatures can protect your family from salmonella and other illnesses. Print and Post: FDA's Temperature Recommendations for Safe Cooking ›

Prepare for Your Appointment

With just 13 minutes on average to meet with your doctor, pre-visit planning is important to your overall care experience. Get better results by following the ABCs of doctor visits: Arrive early. Be prepared. Communicate. Your doctor appreciates the active role you are taking in your health. Search HealthGrades for Top Rated Local Gastroenterologists ›

Decision Guides for Digestive Health Symptoms

Burping (belching), a noisy stomach, or passing of gas from the lower bowel can be embarrassing events, but they are rarely caused by a medical problem. More often, gas is the result of the foods that you eat and how much air you swallow. If your gas symptoms are significant, or if you have other unexplained symptoms, it is best for you to consult with your doctor. This guide is intended to be used as a complement to discussions with your doctor, not as a substitute for office-based care. Begin Evaluating Your Intestinal Gas Symptoms ›

Children's Digestive Symptom Guides

Common causes of diarrhea in babies include infections of the stomach and intestines (gastrointestinal tract) or changes in diet. Most cases of diarrhea are not serious, go away in a day or two and can be managed at home. However, diarrhea that happens along with persistent abdominal pain, fever, vomiting, or not urinating may require a doctor's attention. Answering the questions in this guide will help you understand more about the possible causes of diarrhea in infants, and will help you decide when to call your doctor. Begin Evaluating Infant Diarrhea Symptoms ›

Did You Know?

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