Food fuels the body. But those with food allergies require a special kind of
fuel to thrive and survive.
Kathleen Boynton, M.D., with the Gastroenterology Department at
University of Utah Health Care, breaks down common gastrointestinal
diseases, and how to treat them.
Gastrointestinal diseases are relatively common. A growing awareness of
the symptoms related to these illnesses means people are being diagnosed
earlier and are able to get the help they need to manage their disease.
• Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder where the lining of the
small intestine is damaged, which prevents it from absorbing food
• Celiac disease is often linked to Type 1 diabetes, lactose intolerance,
thyroid disease or other autoimmune diseases.
• The damage is due to a reaction to eating gluten which is found in
wheat, barley, rye and oats.
• Symptoms may include fatigue, delay of growth in children, hair loss,
bloating, and diarrhea.
• There is no cure for celiac disease so it must be managed with a
gluten free diet.
• Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease.
• People with Crohn’s disease have chronic inflammation of the
• Symptoms include abdominal discomfort, bleeding, fatigue, loss of
appetite, diarrhea and weight loss.
• Certain foods that are fatty, greasy or high in fiber can worsen
• Treatments for Crohn’s disease may include medication or surgery.
• Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is also referred to as spastic colon
• IBS is a disorder that leads to abdominal pain and cramping, changes
in bowel movements and other symptoms.
• IBS is not the same as inflammatory bowel disease which includes
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
• It is not clear why patients develop IBS. Sometimes is occurs after an
infection of the intestines.
• IBS can occur at any age, but it often begins in the teen years or early
• One in 6 people have symptoms of IBS. It is the most common reason
patients are referred to a gastroenterologist.
• IBS is commonly treated with lifestyle changes.
A colonoscopy is the best way to prevent colon cancer. A person with no
risk factors should begin screening at the age of 50. Those with a family
history of colon cancer or who have other health conditions may need to
begin screening sooner. Talk to your health care provider about when to
For more information, visit www.healthcare.utah.edu.