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Digestive conditions

Common digestive conditions include heartburn/GERD and inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Common symptoms associated with digestive conditions include bloating, diarrhea, gas, and stomach cramps or pain. Read the latest research evidence on treatment and symptom management.

Got heartburn? Avoid these common acid-blocking drugs
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Digestive problems? Try probiotics
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  • Patient Decision Aid

    Ulcerative colitis: Should I have surgery?

    OHRI
    This patient decision aid helps people who have ulcerative colitis and are considering surgery to remove the colon to decide on whether to have surgery or to keep taking medicine by comparing the benefits, risks and side effects of both options.
  • Patient Decision Aid

    Heartburn: treatment options.

    OHRI
    This patient decision aid helps people looking to treat heartburn decide on treatment options. It facilitates the process by outlining and comparing the two treatment options: proton pump inhibitor (PPI) medication and laparoscopic surgery.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Peptic ulcers

    Informed Health Online
    Most peptic ulcers are caused by an infection with a type of bacteria called Helicobacter pylori. Use of painkillers can increase your risk of peptic ulcers. Common symptoms include abdominal pain, and treatments include lifestyle changes and medications.
  • Evidence Summary

    Proton pump inhibitors for functional dyspepsia.

    Cochrane Database Syst Rev (2017)
  • Evidence Summary

    Some medications improve chronic constipation

    Gut (2016)
  • Web Resource Rating

    Irritable Bowel Syndrome

    Patient.co.uk
    Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common problem that can cause bloating, pain, and changes in stools. Eat more soluble fiber and drink water to help relieve symptoms. Also try exercise and stress management. More details and a video in this resource.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Enlarged hemorrhoids

    Informed Health Online
    The risk of enlarged hemorrhoids increases as you get older. Symptoms include bleeding, itching, mucus and burning at the anus. Treatment of hemorrhoids can range from a lifestyle or diet change to surgery.
  • Evidence Summary

    Cannabis for the treatment of Crohn's disease.

    Cochrane Database Syst Rev (2018)
  • Evidence Summary

    Cannabis for the treatment of ulcerative colitis.

    Cochrane Database Syst Rev (2018)
  • Web Resource Rating

    Crohn's disease diagnosis & treatment

    Mayo Clinic
    Medications that reduce inflammation or suppress your immune system are common treatments for Crohn's disease. Lifestyle and diet changes may also help with symptom control and flare-ups. Try to eat low-fat foods, limit dairy products, eat small meals, drink lots of water, consider multivitamins, and avoid smoking.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Can marijuana ease symptoms of Crohn's disease?

    Medical News Today
    More research is needed to determine the safety and effectiveness of marijuana and marijuana oil in people with active Crohn's disease.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Heartburn and GERD

    Informed Health Online
    Heart burn and regurgitation problems may mean you have a reflux disease known as GERD. Treatment for GERD includes lifestyle changes, medication or surgery.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Irritable bowel syndrome: What helps and what doesn't?

    Informed Health Online
    Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is often difficult to treat. Treatments include: soluble fiber (eg. psyllium), peppermint oil capsules, probiotics, anti-cramping medications, medications for diarrhea/constipation, antibiotics, antidepressants and acupuncture. All have varying rates of success and side effects.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Colon polyps

    Mayo Clinic
    Signs of colon polyps include abdominal pain, blood in stool or a change in bathroom habits. It is important to get screened if you are at risk since some polyps can develop into colon cancer. Many polyps can be removed during screening.
  • Patient Decision Aid

    GERD: Which Treatment Should I Use?

    OHRI
    This patient decision aid helps people with GERD symptoms decide on whether to use medicine or have surgery to treat symptoms by comparing the benefits, risks, and side effects of both options.
  • Web Resource Rating

    GERD: Treatments and drugs

    Mayo Clinic
    Heartburn is a symptom of GERD. Treatments include lifestyle changes, medicine and surgery. This resource includes tips for lifestyle changes, including elevating your bed, avoiding certain foods and eating smaller meals. If lifestyle changes do not work, your doctor may recommend medication. Serious cases may require surgery.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Treatment options for GERD

    Informed Health Online
    Symptoms of GERD are heartburn and regurgitation. To treat symptoms, try changing your diet and avoid eating in the evening. Medications and surgery can help, but increase the risk of side effects or serious complications.
  • Patient Decision Aid

    Hemorrhoids: Which Treatment Should I Use?

    OHRI
    This patient decision aid helps people with hemorrhoids decide on treatment choices. It outlines options such as using home treatments, non surgical procedures, and surgery to remove the hemorrhoid, and compares the benefits, risks, and side effects associated with each option.
  • Web Resource Rating

    What are probiotics?

    Mayo Clinic
    Probiotics are good bacteria that help keep your digestive system healthy. They are available supplements and certain foods. Details in this resource about when to avoid taking probiotics, and considerations to ask your doctor.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Peptic ulcer: Treatment

    Mayo Clinic
    Treatment depends on the underlying cause of your peptic ulcer. If tests show that you have an H. pylori infection, your doctor may recommend a combination of antibiotics and medication to help reduce stomach acid. Otherwise, acid blockers may be prescribed to reduce stomach acid and ulcer pain. If your ulcer does not heal, your doctor may recommend more tests to find another possible cause of your symptoms.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Crohn's disease

    Mayo Clinic
    Crohn’s disease causes inflammation of your digestive tract. There is no known cure or single treatment that works for everyone. Diet changes can help improve symptoms (details in this resource).
  • Web Resource Rating

    Bowel Cancer Screening

    Patient.co.uk
    Screening with tests such as the fecal occult blood test (FOBT) and flexible sigmoidoscopy can detect bowel cancer early when it is easier to treat. Details about these tests in this resource.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Rectal Bleeding (blood in stool)

    Patient.co.uk
    Blood in your faeces (poop) can come from anywhere in the gut. Hemorrhoids are the most common cause of rectal bleeding. If you notice any bleeding or have black faeces, see a doctor. They will perform tests to find the cause.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Causes and diagnosis of lactose intolerance

    Informed Health Online
    People with lactose intolerance are unable to fully digest dairy products. Symptoms include gas, bloating, and diarrhea after eating these products. This resource includes information on the cause of lactose intolerance and how it is diagnosed.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Fecal incontinence

    Mayo Clinic
    Fecal incontinence (leaking feces or loss of bowel control) can be caused by muscle or nerve damage, constipation, or diarrhea. Treatments include diet changes, medications or surgery. See your doctor if you are having this issue. Try Kegel exercises and avoid caffeine, dairy, greasy or spicy foods.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Can probiotics help against diarrhea?

    Informed Health Online
    Probiotics can help shorten episodes of diarrhea. It isn't clear whether different forms of probiotics (yogurt, capsules, powder) are more effective than others. Generally, probiotics are safe to take.
  • Evidence Summary

    Helicobacter pylori eradication for the prevention of gastric neoplasia.

    Cochrane Database Syst Rev (2015)
  • Web Resource Rating

    Easing the strain: Put your feet up for constipation

    Evidently Cochrane
    Squatting may help constipation. Use a stool to raise your feet and avoid straining while you are on the toilet. Other tips: drink plenty of water, avoid caffeine, eat more fibre, exercise and take your time on the toilet.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Stomach (gastric) cancer

    Patient.co.uk
    Treatment can often slow the progress of stomach cancer, and the earlier it is diagnosed, the better. Discuss treatment options with a specialist who knows your case.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Enlarged hemorrhoids: How can you relieve the symptoms yourself?

    Informed Health Online
    Reduce the symptoms of enlarged hemorrhoids. Prevent constipation, relax and take your time on the toilet. Try a warm bath, ointment or a suppository.
  • Web Resource Rating

    What surgical procedures are used to treat hemorrhoids?

    Informed Health Online
    Talk to your doctor about other options for severe enlarged hemorrhoids if treating the symptoms does not give you relief. Treatment options include sclerotherapy, rubber band ligation (banding), hemorrhoid removal and stapling.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Fiber

    Harvard School of Public Health
    Eating fiber helps reduce your risk of diabetes and heart disease and eases digestive issues, such as constipation. Increase your fiber intake by eating whole fruits, whole grains, beans and raw vegetables.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Infectious diarrhea

    Informed Health Online
    Talk to your doctor if you have diarrhea for more than 48 hours, or if it is accompanied by a fever, bloody stool, intense pain, vomiting, or dehydration. Your doctor may recommend antibiotics or rehydration powders to treat your diarrhea. Stay hydrated and eat foods high in probiotics, such as yogurt.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Do I need to include probiotics and prebiotics in my diet?

    Mayo Clinic
    Probiotics may help to keep your digestive system healthy. Prebiotics act as food for probiotics. There is some evidence that probiotics may help treat diarrhea, yeast infections and irritable bowel syndrome. More research is needed on the role that probiotics and prebiotics play in digestive health.
  • Patient Decision Aid

    Umbilical Hernia: Should I Have Surgery?

    OHRI
    This patient decision aid helps people with an umbilical hernia decide on whether to have surgery now or take a wait-and-see approach by comparing the benefits, risks, and side effects of both options.
  • Patient Decision Aid

    Inguinal hernia: Should I have surgery now, or should I wait?

    OHRI
    This patient decision aid helps individuals with inguinal hernia considering surgery decide whether to have surgery now or take a wait and see approach to surgery. It facilitates the process by comparing the benefits, risks and side effects of both options.
  • Patient Decision Aid

    Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Should I Have Tests for IBS Symptoms?

    OHRI
    This patient decision aid helps individuals who are uncertain if they have irritable bowel syndrome decide on whether or not to have tests for IBS symptoms by comparing the benefits, risks and side effects of both options. It includes alternative options to having tests such as trying home treatment.
  • Blog Post

    Does cannabis offer new hope for folks with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis?

    Is cannabis the answer for people with Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis? The evidence is still out on its safety and effectiveness.
  • Blog Post

    Fact or fiction: Research reveals the truth about common supplements

    There are many claims out there about the health benefits of dietary supplements, but not all claims are backed by evidence. Talk to your health care provider about which supplements may be beneficial to you.
  • Blog Post

    Digestive problems? Try probiotics

    Got probiotics? These “good for you” bacteria, found in certain foods and available as supplements, contribute to a healthy digestive system and improve gastrointestinal problems.
  • Blog Post

    Got heartburn? Avoid these common acid-blocking drugs

    Proton pump inhibitors – a common type of stomach acid medication – are overprescribed and many people can safely reduce or stop this medication.

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