National Digestive Diseases
Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC)

A service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), National Institutes of Health (NIH)

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The Digestive Diseases Dictionary A - D



abdomen (AB-doh-men):
the area between the chest and hips.
abdominal adhesions (ab-DOM-ih-nul) (ad-HEE-zhuhnz):
bands of fibrous tissue that can form between abdominal tissues and organs. Adhesions cause tissues and organs to stick together. Abdominal adhesions are a cause of intestinal obstruction and female infertility. Also called intestinal adhesions.
Drawing of the GI tract showing the esophagus, stomach, and large intestine. Inset shows abdominal adhesions on the small intestine, also labeled.
Abdominal adhesions
abdominal migraine (ab-DOM-ih-nul) (MY-grayn):
sudden, repeated attacks of abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting, usually in children who later develop migraine headaches. A headache may also be present.
abscess (AB-sess):
a painful, swollen, pus-filled area caused by infection.
absorption (ab-SORP-shuhn):
the way nutrients are taken up by the digestive system.
achalasia (ak-uh-LAY-zee-uh):
a rare disorder of the esophagus that makes it difficult to swallow food. The muscle at the end of the esophagus does not relax enough for the passage to open.
Drawing of the esophagus showing achalasia with the esophagus, diaphragm, contracted muscle, and trapped food labeled.
achlorhydria (ay-klor-HY-dree-uh):
a lack of hydrochloric acid in the digestive juices of the stomach.
activated charcoal (AK-tih-vayt-ed) (CHAR-kohl):
a substance that may be used to treat accidental or intentional ingestion of toxic substances.
acute (uh-KYOOT):
refers to conditions that happen suddenly and last a short time. Acute is the opposite of chronic.
adenovirus (AD-uh-noh-VYruhss):
a group of viruses that are present year-round and cause gastroenteritis and respiratory infection. Vomiting and diarrhea appear about 8 to 10 days after exposure. Infections occur most often in children less than 2 years old. See viral gastroenteritis.
aerophagia (AIR-oh-FAY-jee-uh):
a condition that occurs when a person swallows too much air, causing gas and frequent belching.
alactasia (ay-lak-TAY-zee-uh):
an inherited condition causing a lack of the enzyme needed to digest milk sugar.
Alagille syndrome (ah-lah-ZHEEL) (SIN-drohm):
a collection of symptoms that indicates a genetic digestive disorder and leads to a loss of bile ducts in infancy. Alagille syndrome is a complex disorder that can affect other parts of the body, including the heart, kidneys, blood vessels, eyes, face, and skeleton.
alkaline reflux esophagitis (AL-kuh-lyn) (REE-fluhks) (uh-sof-uh-JY-tiss):
the development of esophagitis due to prolonged contact of the esophagus with nonacidic stomach contents.
allergy (AL-ur-jee):
a condition in which the body's immune system has an overreaction to certain foods, animals, plants, or other substances.
amebiasis (uh-mee-BY-uh-siss):
an acute or chronic infection caused by amoebas, a type of parasite. Symptoms vary from mild diarrhea to frequent, watery diarrhea and loss of water and fluids in the body. See gastroenteritis.
amino acids (uh-MEE-noh) (ASS-idz):
the building blocks of proteins. The body produces many amino acids and others come from food. The body absorbs amino acids through the small intestine into the blood, which then carries them throughout the body.
anal electromyography (AY-nuhl) (ee-LEK-troh-my-OG-ruh-fee):
a test to check the health of the pelvic floor muscles and the nerves that control the muscles. Also called anal EMG.
anal fissure (AY-nuhl) (FISH-ur):
a small tear in the anus that may cause itching, pain, or bleeding.
Left: drawing of a cross section of the anus with a fissure. Right: drawing of a direct view of the anus with a fissure.
Anal fissure
anal fistula (AY-nuhl) (FISS-tyoo-luh):
a passage that develops between the anus and the skin. Sometimes an abscess can form in and around a fistula. Fistulas are typical of Crohn's disease.
anal manometry (AY-nuhl) (muh-NOM-uh-tree):
a test that uses pressure sensors and a balloon that can be inflated in the rectum to check how sensitive the rectum is and how well it works. Anal manometry also checks the tightness of the muscles around the anus. Doctors use this test most often to diagnose chronic constipation and fecal incontinence.
anastomosis (uh-NASS-toh-MOH-siss):
a surgical connection of two body parts. An example is an operation in which a surgeon removes part of the colon and joins the two remaining ends.
anemia (uh-NEE-mee-uh):
a condition in which a person has fewer red blood cells than normal, which prevents the body's cells from getting enough oxygen. Red blood cells contain hemoglobin, an iron-rich protein that gives blood its red color and lets the red blood cells transport oxygen from the lungs to the tissues of the body. Anemia can cause extreme fatigue.
angiodysplasia (AN-jee-oh-diss-PLAY-zee-uh):
abnormal or enlarged blood vessels in the gastrointestinal tract.
angiography (AN-jee-OG-ruh-fee):
an x ray that uses dye to detect blood vessels in organs.
anorectal (AY-noh-REK-tuhl):
related to, or involving, both the rectum and anus.
anorectal abscess (AY-noh-REK-tuhl) (AB-sess):
a collection of pus in a cavity in the anorectal area.
anorectal atresia (AY-noh-REK-tuhl) (uh-TREE-zee-uh):
the lack of a normal opening between the rectum and anus.
anorectal function tests (AY-noh-REK-tuhl) (FUHNK-shuhn) (tests):
tests used to diagnose abnormal functioning of the anus or rectum and to evaluate anal sphincter muscle function.
anoscopy (an-OSS-kuh-pee):
a test to look for anal fissures, anal fistulas, hemorrhoids, or cancer. Doctors use a special instrument called an anoscope to look into the anus.
antacids (ant-ASS-idz):
over-the-counter medicines that neutralize acids in the stomach.
antibiotic (AN-tee-by-OT-ik):
a medicine that kills bacteria.
antibodies (AN-tee-BOD-eez):
proteins made by the immune system to protect the body from foreign substances such as bacteria or viruses.
anticholinergics (AN-tee-KOL-ih-NUR-jiks):
medicines often used to treat muscle spasms in the intestines. Examples are dicyclomine (Bentyl) and hyoscyamine (Levsin).
antidiarrheals (AN-tee-DY-uh-REE-uhlz):
medicines that help control diarrhea. An example of an over-the-counter medicine is loperamide (Imodium).
antiemetics (AN-tee-uh-MET-iks):
medicines used to treat nausea and vomiting. Examples are promethazine (Phenergan), prochlorperazine (Compazine), and ondansetron (Zofran).
antispasmodics (AN-tee-spaz-MOD-iks):
medicines that help reduce muscle spasms in the intestines. Examples are dicyclomine (Bentyl) and hyoscyamine (Levsin).
antrectomy (an-TREK-toh-mee):
an operation to remove the antrum to help reduce the amount of stomach acid. A person who has complications from ulcers may need this operation.
antrum (AN-truhm):
the lower part of the stomach, which is lined with mucus and produces gastrin.
anus (AY-nuhss):
a 1-inch opening at the end of the gastrointestinal tract through which stool leaves the body.
aorto-enteric fistula (ay-OR-toh-en-TUR-ik) (FISS-tyoo-luh):
a rare condition in which a prosthetic aortic graft causes an opening into the duodenum.
appendectomy (AP-pen-DEK-toh-mee):
surgery to remove the appendix.
appendicitis (uh-PEN-dih-SY-tiss):
inflammation of the appendix.
appendix (uh-PEN-diks):
a fingerlike pouch attached to the large intestine in the lower right area of the abdomen. The appendix does not appear to have a specific function in the body.
ascending colon (uh-SEN-ding) (KOH-lon):
the beginning part of the colon, usually on the right side of the abdomen.
ascites (uh-SY-teez):
a buildup of fluid in the abdomen usually caused by liver failure.
astrovirus (ASS-troh-VY-ruhss):
a virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea within 3 to 4 days of exposure and is most active during the winter months. The virus infects primarily infants, young children, and older adults. See viral gastroenteritis.
asymptomatic (AY-simp-toh-MAT-ik):
the condition of having a disease yet none of its symptoms.
atresia (uh-TREE-zee-uh):
the lack of a normal opening in the esophagus, intestines, bile ducts, or anus.
atrophic gastritis (uh-TROF-ik) (gass-TRY-tiss):
chronic irritation of the stomach lining that causes loss of the stomach lining and glands.
autoimmune disease (AW-toh-ih-MYOON) (dih-ZEEZ):
a disorder in which the body's immune system attacks the body's own cells and organs.
autoimmune hepatitis (AW-toh-ih-MYOON) (HEP-uh-TY-tiss):
a chronic liver disease in which the body's immune system attacks the liver and causes inflammation. Autoimmune hepatitis can lead to cirrhosis and liver failure.



bacteria (bak-TIHR-ee-uh):
tiny organisms that can cause infections in many areas of the body, including the gastrointestinal tract. Not all bacteria are harmful to humans.
barium (BA-ree-uhm):
a chalky liquid used to coat the inside of organs so they will show up more clearly on an x ray.
Barrett's esophagus (BA-ruhts) (uh-SOF-uh-guhss):
a condition in which tissue that is similar to the lining of the intestine replaces the tissue lining the esophagus. Some people with GERD develop Barrett's esophagus.
belching (BELCH-ing):
a noisy release of gas from the stomach through the mouth. Also called burping or eructation.
bezoar (BEE-zor):
a solid collection of food, mucus, vegetable fiber, hair, or other material that cannot be digested in the stomach. Bezoars can cause blockage, ulcers, and bleeding.
bile (byl):
fluid made by the liver that serves two main functions: carrying toxins and waste products out of the body and helping the body digest fats and the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Bile is stored in the gallbladder.
bile acids (byl) (ASS-idz):
acids made by the liver that work with bile to break down fats.
bile ducts (byl) (duhkts):
tubes that carry bile from the liver to the gallbladder for storage and to the duodenum for use in digestion.
biliary atresia (BIL-ee-air-ee) (uh-TREE-zee-uh):
a life-threatening condition in infants in which the bile ducts inside or outside the liver do not have normal openings. Bile becomes trapped, builds up, and damages the liver. The damage leads to scarring, loss of liver tissue, and cirrhosis.
biliary dyskinesia (BIL-ee-air-ee) (DISS-kih-NEE-zee-uh):
a group of functional gastrointestinal disorders of the biliary tract and gallbladder.
biliary stricture (BIL-ee-air-ee) (STRIK-choor):
a narrowing of the biliary tract from scar tissue that results from injury, disease, pancreatitis, infection, gallstones, or cancer. See stricture.
biliary tract (BIL-ee-air-ee) (trakt):
made up of the gallbladder and the bile ducts. The biliary tract carries bile and other digestive enzymes from the liver and pancreas to the duodenum. Also called biliary system or biliary tree.
Drawing of the biliary system with the liver, gallbladder, pancreas, duodenum, bile ducts, cystic duct, common bile duct, and pancreatic duct labeled.
Biliary tract
bilirubin (BIL-ih-ROO-bin):
a reddish-yellow substance formed when hemoglobin breaks down. Bilirubin is found in bile and blood and normally passes out of the body in stool. Too much bilirubin accumulated in the blood causes jaundice.
biofeedback (BY-oh-FEED-bak):
exercises that strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and may help treat fecal incontinence. Biofeedback is used to treat both psychological and physical problems, including motility disorders, also called functional gastrointestinal disorders.
biopsy (BY-op-see):
a procedure that involves taking a piece of tissue for examination with a microscope. Doctors use biopsy to diagnose cancer and other disorders.
bismuth subsalicylate (BIZ-muhth) (SUHB-suh-LISS-ih-layt):
an over-the-counter medicine used to treat diarrhea, heartburn, indigestion, and nausea. The medicine can be part of the treatment for ulcers caused by the bacterium H. pylori. An example is Pepto-Bismol.
bloating (BLOHT-ing):
a feeling of fullness or swelling in the abdomen. Also called distention.
blue rubber bleb nevus syndrome (bloo) (RUHB-ur) (bleb) (NEE-vuhss) (SIN-drohm):
a rare condition with painful lesions found in the small intestine, the colon, and sometimes the stomach and parts of the nervous system that may cause bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract.
borborygmi (bor-boh-RIG-mee):
rumbling sounds caused by gas moving through the intestines. Also known as stomach “growling.”
bowel (boul):
another word for the small intestine and large intestine.
bowel movement (boul) (MOOV-ment):
solid waste passed out of the body through the rectum and anus. Also called defecation.
bowel prep (boul) (prep):
the process used to clean the colon with enemas or a special drink that causes frequent bowel movements. This process is used before surgery of the colon, a colonoscopy, or a lower GI series. Also called lavage.
breath test (breth) (test):
a test used to detect H. pylori infection. The test detects the presence of urease, an enzyme made by H. pylori.
Budd-Chiari syndrome (buhd-kee-AH-ree) (SIN-drohm):
a rare liver disease in which the veins that drain blood from the liver are blocked or narrowed.
bulking agents (BUHLK-ing) (AY-jents):
laxatives that make bowel movements soft and easy to pass.



calculi (KAL-kyoo-ly):
stones or solid lumps such as gallstones.
calicivirus (KAL-ih-suh-VY-ruhss):
a virus that causes infection in people of all ages. Norovirus is the most common type of calicivirus. See viral gastroenteritis.
candidiasis (KAN-dih-DY-uh-siss):
an infection caused by the Candida fungus, which lives naturally in the gastrointestinal tract.
carbohydrates (KAR-boh-HY-drayts):
sugars, starches, and fiber found in many foods.
Caroli's disease (kah-ROH-leez) (dih-ZEEZ):
a rare, inherited condition in which the bile ducts in the liver are enlarged and may cause irritation, infection, gallstones, or cancer.
catheter (KATH-uh-ter):
a thin, flexible tube that carries fluids into or out of the body.
cecostomy (see-KOSS-toh-mee):
a tube placed through the skin into the beginning of the large intestine to remove gas or stool. This procedure is a short-term way to protect part of the colon while it heals after surgery.
cecum (SEE-kuhm):
the beginning of the large intestine. The cecum is connected to the lower part of the small intestine, called the ileum.
celiac disease (SEE-lee-ak) (dih-ZEEZ):
an autoimmune disorder in which people cannot tolerate gluten because it damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents absorption of nutrients. Also called celiac sprue, nontropical sprue, and gluten-sensitive enteropathy.
chloride channel activators (KLOR-eyed) (CHAN-uhl) (AK-tih-vay-torz):
medicines used to increase intestinal fluid and motility to help stool pass and reduce the symptoms of constipation. An example is lubiprostone (Amitiza). See laxatives.
cholangiography (koh-LAN-jee-OG-ruh-fee):
a series of x rays of the bile ducts.
cholangitis (KOH-lan-JY-tiss):
irritated or infected bile ducts.
cholecystectomy (KOH-lee-siss-TEK-toh-mee):
surgery to remove the gallbladder.
cholecystitis (KOH-lee-siss-TY-tiss):
irritation of the gallbladder.
cholecystogram, oral (KOH-lee-SISS-toh-gram), (OR-uhl):
an x ray of the gallbladder and bile ducts. The patient takes pills containing a special dye that makes the organs show up more clearly on x ray.
cholecystokinin (KOH-lee-siss-toh-KY-nin):
a hormone released in the small intestine that causes muscles in the gallbladder and colon to tighten and relax.
choledocholithiasis (koh-LED-oh-koh-lith-EYE-uh-siss):
the presence of gallstones in the bile ducts.
cholelithiasis (KOH-lee-lih-THY-uh-siss):
the presence of gallstones in the gallbladder.
cholestasis (koh-LESS-tuh-siss):
reduced bile flow, which may be caused by liver disease.
cholesterol (koh-LESS-tur-ol):
a type of fat found in the body's cells, in blood, and in many foods. A person may have a high cholesterol level because it runs in the family, or the person eats foods high in cholesterol. Over time, extra cholesterol in the blood can build up in the walls of the arteries that supply blood to the heart. High blood cholesterol can lead to heart disease, stroke, and gallstones.
chronic (KRON-ik):
refers to disorders that last a long time, often years. Chronic is the opposite of acute.
chronic atrophic gastritis (KRON-ik)(uh-TROF-ik) (gass-TRY-tiss):
end stage of chronic inflammation of the stomach, usually caused by H. pylori, resulting in reduced acid production.
chronic idiopathic constipation (KRON-ik) (ID-ee-oh-PATH-ik) (KON-stih-PAY-shuhn):
constipation caused by a disturbance of colonic or anorectal motor function of unknown cause. See functional gastrointestinal disorders.
chyme (kym):
a thick liquid made of partially digested food and digestive juices. This liquid is made in the stomach and moves into the small intestine for further digestion.
cirrhosis (sur-ROH-siss):
a condition in which the liver slowly deteriorates and is unable to function normally due to chronic injury. Scar tissue replaces healthy liver tissue, partially blocking the flow of blood through the liver.
Top: drawing of a portion of normal liver tissue. Bottom: drawing of a portion of cirrhotic liver tissue.
Clostridium difficile (kloss-TRID-ee-uhm) (duh-FISS-uh-lee):
a bacterium naturally present in the large intestine that can make a toxin that causes diarrhea. Also called C. difficile.
colectomy (koh-LEK-toh-mee):
surgery to remove all or part of the colon.
colic (KOL-ik):
attacks of abdominal pain. In infants, colic refers to extended crying of unknown cause.
colitis (koh-LY-tiss):
inflammation of the colon.
collagenous colitis (ko-LAJ-uh-nuhss) (koh-LY-tiss):
a type of microscopic colitis, which causes inflammation of the colon. With collagenous colitis, layers of collagen, a threadlike protein, are thicker than normal in the intestine.
colon (KOH-lon):
the part of the large intestine extending from the cecum to, yet not including, the rectum. See large intestine.
Drawing of the colon with the ascending colon, transverse colon, descending colon, and sigmoid colon labeled.
colonic conduit (ko-LON-ik) (KON-doo-it):
a surgical procedure that uses a section of the large intestine, instead of the small intestine, to form a channel for urinary drainage.
colonic inertia (ko-LON-ik) (in-UR-shuh):
a condition of the colon when the muscles are damaged, causing constipation.
colonoscope (koh-LON-oh-skohp):
a long, flexible, narrow tube with a light and tiny camera on one end.
colonoscopic polypectomy (koh-LON-oh-SKOP-ik) (POL-ih-PEK-tuh-mee):
the removal of growths called polyps by using a device inserted through a colonoscope.
colonoscopy (KOH-lon-OSS-kuh-pee):
a procedure that uses a colonoscope to look inside the rectum and entire colon. The patient lies on a table while the doctor inserts the colonoscope into the anus. The camera on the colonoscope sends a video image of the intestinal lining to a computer screen. The test can show inflamed tissue, ulcers, and abnormal growths such as polyps.
colon polyps (KOH-lon) (POL-ips):
growths on the surface of the colon. A person can have more than one colon polyp. Some colon polyps are benign, which means they are not cancerous. Some types of polyps may already be cancerous or can become cancerous. A doctor can usually remove polyps during colonoscopy.
colorectal cancer (KOH-loh-REK-tuhl) (KAN-sur):
cancer that starts in the colon or rectum. Some conditions may increase a person's chance of getting of colorectal cancer, including polyposis.
colorectal transit study (KOH-loh-REK-tuhl) (TRAN-zit) (STUHD-ee):
a test that shows how stool moves through the colon. The patient swallows capsules or other substances that contain small markers and an x ray tracks their movement through the colon.
colostomy (koh-LOSS-toh-mee):
surgery to create an opening in the abdomen, called a stoma, and attach the colon to the stoma for stool to exit the body. A person attaches an ostomy pouch to the stoma and wears the pouch outside the body over the stoma to collect stool. A colostomy may be temporary or permanent. The colostomy is permanent when the surgeon removes or bypasses the lower end of the colon or rectum. A surgeon may perform a temporary colostomy to let the lower part of the colon or rectum rest or heal from injury or surgery.
Drawing of the colon with a portion of the descending colon missing and remaining colon diverted to a stoma.
common bile duct (KOM-on) (byl) (duhkt):
the tube that carries bile from the liver to the duodenum. The common bile duct and the main pancreatic duct join before emptying their contents into the duodenum.
common bile duct obstruction (KOM-on) (byl) (duhkt) (ob-STRUHK-shuhn):
a blockage of the common bile duct, often caused by gallstones or cancer.
computerized tomography scan (kom-PYOO-tur-eyezd) (toh-MOG-ruh-fee) (skan):
a test that uses a combination of x rays and computer technology to create images. Also called a CT scan, computed axial tomography (CAT) scan, or computed tomography scan.
constipation (KON-stih-PAY-shuhn):
a condition in which an adult has fewer than three bowel movements a week or a child has fewer than two bowel movements a week. During a bowel movement, stools can be hard, dry, and small, making them difficult to pass. Some people find it painful and often have to strain to have a bowel movement. In some people, constipation is a functional gastrointestinal disorder.
continence (KON-tih-nenss):
the ability to control the timing of urination or a bowel movement.
continent ileostomy (KON-tih-nent) (IL-ee-OSS-tuh-mee):
surgery to create an internal colonlike pouch from the end of the ileum after the large intestine is removed. The pouch is connected to a stoma. The person drains the pouch each day by inserting a tube through the stoma. The person covers the stoma with a simple patch or dressing.
Drawing of the small intestine diverted through a pouch and then to a stoma.  The removed colon and rectum are labeled.
Continent ileostomy
corticosteroids (KOR-tih-koh-STIHR-oydz):
medicines that decrease swelling and reduce the activity of the immune system. Examples are cortisone (Cortone Acetate) and hydrocortisone (Hydrocortone).
Crohn's disease (krohnz) (dih-ZEEZ):
a disorder that causes inflammation and irritation of any part of the gastrointestinal tract. The part most commonly affected is the end part of the small intestine, called the ileum. Also called regional enteritis or ileitis. Crohn's disease is one of two main forms of inflammatory bowel disease. The other form is called ulcerative colitis.
cryptosporidium (KRIP-toh-spoh-RID-ee-um):
a parasite that can cause gastroenteritis.
cyclic vomiting syndrome (SIK-lik) (VOM-it-ing) (SIN-drohm):
a disorder characterized by sudden, repeated attacks—also called episodes—of severe nausea, vomiting, and physical exhaustion with no apparent cause. The episodes can last from a few hours to several days. Cyclic vomiting syndrome is a functional gastrointestinal disorder.
cystic duct (SISS-tik) (duhkt):
the tube that carries bile from the gallbladder into the common bile duct.
cystic duct obstruction (SISS-tik) (duhkt) (ob-STRUHK-shuhn):
a blockage of the cystic duct, often caused by gallstones.



defecography (DEF-uh-KOG-ruh-fee):
an x ray of the anorectal area that shows how well the rectum can hold and evacuate stool. The test also shows structural changes in the rectum and anus, such as rectocele and rectal prolapse.
dehydration (DEE-hy-DRAY-shuhn):
a condition that results from not taking in enough liquids to replace those that are sometimes lost through frequent urinating, sweating, diarrhea, or vomiting. When dehydrated, the body lacks enough fluid and electrolytes to function properly. Infants, children, older adults, and people with weak immune systems have the greatest chance of becoming dehydrated.
dermatitis herpetiformis (DUR-muh-TY-tiss) (hur-PET-ih-FOR-miss):
a chronic, intensely itchy, blistering skin manifestation of celiac disease.
descending colon (dee-SEND-ing) (KOH-lon):
the part of the colon where stool is stored. The descending colon is usually located on the left side of the abdomen.
diaphragm (DY-uh-fram):
the muscle wall between the chest and abdomen. The diaphragm is the main muscle used for breathing.
diarrhea (DY-uh-REE-uh):
loose, watery stools. Having diarrhea means passing loose stools three or more times a day. Diarrhea may be acute or chronic. Acute diarrhea is a common problem that usually lasts 1 or 2 days and goes away on its own. Diarrhea lasting more than 2 days may be a sign of a more serious problem. Bacterial, viral, or parasitic infections are usually the cause of acute diarrhea. Chronic diarrhea—diarrhea that lasts at least 4 weeks—may be a symptom of a chronic disease. Chronic diarrhea symptoms may be continual or they may come and go. Chronic diarrhea is usually related to a functional gastrointestinal disorder such as irritable bowel syndrome or an intestinal disease such as Crohn's disease.
dietitian (dy-uh-TISH-uhn):
a nutrition expert who helps people plan what and how much food to eat.
Dieulafoy's lesion (dyoo-lah-FWAHZ) (LEE-zhuhn):
a small breakdown in the lining of the stomach that causes heavy bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract.
diffuse esophageal spasm (dih-FYOOZ) (uh-SOF-uh-JEE-uhl) (SPA-zum):
uncoordinated contractions down the length of the esophagus that may cause pain or trouble swallowing.
digestants (dy-JESS-tuhnts):
medicines that help with or stimulate digestion. Examples are over-the-counter digestive enzymes for people with lactase deficiency or damage to the pancreas. Examples are lactase enzyme (Lactaid) and pancrelipase (Ultrase).
digestion (dy-JESS-chuhn):
the process the body uses to break down food into nutrients, which the body uses for energy, growth, and cell repair.
digestive juices (dy-JESS-tiv) (JOOsez):
fluids produced in the gastrointestinal tract to help break down large molecules of food into smaller molecules.
digestive system (dy-JESS-tiv) (SISS-tuhm):
the system that helps the body digest food, which includes breaking food down and absorbing needed nutrients. The digestive system is made up of the gastrointestinal tract and the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder. The gastrointestinal tract includes the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine—which includes the colon and rectum—and anus.
The digestive system. The esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, small intestine, rectum, anus, appendix, large intestine, gallbladder, and duodenum are labeled.
Digestive system
diverticular bleeding (DY-vur-TIK-yoo-lur) (BLEED-ing):
a condition that occurs when a small blood vessel within the wall of a diverticulum bursts.
diverticular disease (DY-vur-TIK-yoo-lur) (dih-ZEEZ):
a condition that occurs when a person has problems from small pouches, or sacs, that have formed and pushed outward through weak spots in the colon wall. Each pouch is called a diverticulum. Multiple pouches are called diverticula. The problems that occur with diverticular disease include diverticulitis and diverticular bleeding.
diverticulitis (DY-vur-TIK-yoo-LY-tiss):
a condition that occurs when diverticula become inflamed and infected.
Drawing of the colon and an enlargement of it showing diverticula.
diverticulosis (DY-vur-TIK-yoo-LOH-siss):
a condition that occurs when a person has diverticula that do not cause diverticulitis or diverticular bleeding. Most people with diverticulosis do not have symptoms.
diverticulum (DY-vur-TIK-yoo-luhm):
a small pouch, or sac, that has formed and pushed outward through a weak spot in the colon wall. Multiple pouches are called diverticula.
donor (DOH-nor):
a living or a deceased person who gives blood, tissue, bone, bone marrow, or an organ to another person during a surgery called a transplant.
Dubin-Johnson syndrome (DOO-bin-JON-suhn) (SIN-drohm):
a rare, inherited form of chronic jaundice.
dumping syndrome (DUHMP-ing) (SIN-drohm):
a condition that occurs when food, especially sugar, moves too fast from the stomach to the duodenum. Also called rapid gastric emptying or postgastrectomy syndrome.
duodenal ulcer (DOO-oh-DEE-nuhl) (UHL-sur):
an ulcer in the lining of the duodenum.
duodenitis (DOO-od-uh-NY-tiss):
an irritation of the duodenum.
duodenum (doo-OD-uh-nuhm):
the first part of the small intestine.
dysentery (DISS-en-tair-ee):
an infectious disease of the colon. Symptoms include bloody, mucus-filled diarrhea; abdominal pain; fever; and loss of fluids from the body.
dyspepsia (diss-PEP-see-uh):
a group of gastrointestinal symptoms that occur together, also known as indigestion. Symptoms of dyspepsia include a feeling of fullness during a meal, uncomfortable fullness after a meal, and burning or pain in the upper abdomen. When symptoms are present for at least 6 months, including the 3 months prior to diagnosis, the condition is known as functional dyspepsia. Functional dyspepsia, which occurs without other disease or injury that could explain the symptoms, is a functional gastrointestinal disorder.
dysphagia (diss-FAY-zee-uh):
problems with swallowing food or liquid, usually caused by blockage or injury to the esophagus.


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Page last updated May 14, 2014

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