A mother and daughter drink smoothies for their digestive health

Digestive health

Digestive problems are surprisingly common. In fact, about one in four adults in the United States has one or more digestive health conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), gastric reflux or chronic constipation.

It’s not surprising so many people have problems with digestion. After all, our digestive system is one of the most intricate and sensitive systems in our bodies. It can affect, and be affected by, nearly all of our other systems. For instance, have you ever had stomach issues when you’re worried about something? That’s a result of the close relationship between your digestive and nervous systems.

If you have digestive problems that aren’t going away, a gastroenterologist may be able to help. These are doctors who specialize in preventing, diagnosing and treating gastrointestinal (or GI) disorders – conditions that affect the esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, small intestine and colon. Gastroenterologists also perform procedures that keep you healthy, such as colonoscopies for colorectal cancer screening.

If you need expert care for digestive problems, our award-winning digestive health specialists are here to help.

What our digestive health specialists treat

  • Celiac disease
  • Chronic constipation or diarrhea
  • Esophageal disease, including acid reflux, heartburn, difficult or painful swallowing, eosinophilic esophagitis and achalasia
  • H. Pylori
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including Crohn’s disease, microscopic colitis and ulcerative colitis
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Liver disease, including Hepatitis B and C
  • Pancreatic duct conditions
  • Pancreatitis

Signs of a digestive health disorder

Symptoms of gastrointestinal disorders may differ from person to person. People may experience stomach issues such as pain, constipation, blood in their stool, diarrhea or indigestion. Anytime you have a new or unusual symptom it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment with one of our primary care doctors.

Our primary care doctors are experts at diagnosing and treating hundreds of conditions, including digestive disorders. When needed, they’ll refer you to one of our digestive health specialists for diagnosis and more advanced treatment.

Causes of digestive disorders

Your diet, stress levels, genetics and other factors all play a role in your digestive health. They can also contribute to stomach issues and potentially lead to digestive disorders. Causes of digestive disorders vary from person to person, so it’s important to talk to your doctor about your symptoms to get the right diagnosis.

Common causes of digestive disorders include:

  • High levels of stress
  • Poor diet
  • Food allergies or intolerances
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Environmental factors
  • Inflammation or infection
  • Family history of digestive disorders
  • Smoking or heavy drinking
  • Ulcers in the stomach or digestive tract


We use the latest diagnostic and treatment techniques to get you answers and begin improving your gastrointestinal health.

Our doctors use a variety of methods to diagnose digestive health conditions. It’s common for them to ask questions about your symptoms and your family’s health history. We may also conduct a physical exam or order additional tests, such as:

  • Stool tests that look for hidden blood and abnormal bacteria.
  • Imaging tests (like CT scans, ultrasounds and MRIs) which take diagnostic pictures of your organs.
  • Endoscopic procedures that allow us to examine the digestive tract. These are usually performed using an endoscope, a tube with a small light and camera on the end. We also perform capsule endoscopy, a procedure where you swallow a tiny camera in a capsule that takes pictures of your digestive tract as it moves through your system. We offer a variety of sedation options to help keep you comfortable during the procedure.

Once we make a diagnosis, we’ll be able to explain what’s causing your symptoms and begin working with you on a treatment plan.


The treatment you need will depend on the type and severity of the digestive condition. Our gastroenterologists work closely with specialists such as nutritionists and colorectal surgeons to ensure that every patient gets the very best possible care. And in the rare case that you’re diagnosed with gastrointestinal or colorectal cancer, we’ll help you find an oncologist to provide the cancer care you need.

Nutrition and dietary changes

Some stomach issues can be improved by making changes to your diet and nutrition. Your doctor may recommend eating a healthier diet and increasing your exercise to help keep your digestive system on track. They may also advise avoiding certain foods that cause irritation, like spices and dairy. Digestive health specialists also commonly suggest taking a vitamin supplement or a probiotic to provide your system with the nutrients and healthy bacteria it needs.


There are a wide range of medications and supplements for digestive conditions. Antimicrobials are an effective treatment for some bacterial and parasitic infections, while acid blockers are recommended for heartburn and acid reflux. For nausea and diarrhea, there are several options to manage your symptoms. And for autoimmune related conditions, anti-inflammatory drugs and immunosuppression medications are commonly used.

Another treatment option is biologic therapy, a form of immunosuppression. Biologic therapy is an effective treatment for certain digestive conditions, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.


In some cases, the best treatment option is surgery. Many procedures can now be done with minimally invasive techniques, such as laparoscopic surgery, which involves only a small incision and requires less time to heal.

Colorectal cancer screening

Symptoms of colorectal cancer usually don't appear until the cancer is advanced. Regular colorectal cancer screenings help find the disease early when treatment is most successful. A colonoscopy is valuable because it allows us to find the precursors to colon cancer, colon polyps. By removing colon polyps during a colonoscopy, we help prevent colon cancer – not just detect it. We also use fecal immunochemical tests (FITs) to screen for colorectal cancer.


When you have a colonoscopy, your doctor looks at the lining of your rectum and colon through a thin, flexible tool called a colonoscope. Your clinician will give you specific instructions to prepare your colon for the procedure. Following these instructions exactly is important. If you do not prepare properly, your colonoscopy may need to be rescheduled for a later date. The timing of your next colonoscopy is determined by what is found during your procedure, your findings on past colonoscopies and your family history.

FIT Tests

Fecal immunochemical tests – called FITs for short – check stool samples for blood, which is a possible sign of cancer. This test is done at home and then you send a stool sample in the mail to your lab. This test is done once per year. If your test shows blood in your stool, we’ll connect with you and help you schedule a colonoscopy.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)