Digestive Disorders

Functional dyspepsia: Causes, treatments, and new directions

Functional dyspepsia is a digestive condition without a clear cause, characterized by a feeling of fullness or a burning sensation. Depending on test results and symptoms, treatment may involve a course of antibiotics, a proton pump inhibitor, or a low dose of a tricyclic antidepressant.

Probiotics — even inactive ones — may relieve IBS symptoms

People with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may take probiotics to try to restore the balance of bacteria in their gastrointestinal tract. A recent study found that an inactive form of a probiotic (which has some advantages over active versions) helped improve symptoms and quality of life in test subjects.

I have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). What should I eat?

John Garber, MD

Contributor

For people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), knowing which foods to eat and which to avoid is important information. An international organization has developed guidelines for some kinds of food, with the aim of helping people with this condition reduce symptoms and inflammation.

Weight loss can help head off lasting damage caused by fatty liver

Irun Bhan, MD

Contributor

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is the most common cause of liver disease in the United States, caused by the accumulation of fat in the liver. The key to preventing complications is to detect and treat it early, but getting a diagnosis can be tricky.

Ranitidine (Zantac) recall expanded, many questions remain

The FDA has not yet released the results of its testing of the heartburn medication ranitidine. The testing method used by the online pharmacy that originally alerted the FDA may have affected their results.

OK, boomer: You’re not the only one who needs testing for hepatitis C

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Recent guidelines for screening for hepatitis C focused on baby boomers because that population had most of the undiagnosed infections, but because new infections are increasing fastest in those 20 to 39, the guidelines have been revised.

Harvard Health Ad Watch: What’s being cleansed in a detox cleanse?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

The idea of a detox diet or cleanse seems like it might be beneficial, and the advertising is certainly compelling, but these products are not regulated in any way. Evidence of beneficial effects from using them is limited, and there are reports of side effects and complications.

C. difficile (C. diff): An urgent threat

The bacteria known as C. diff has become a leading cause of infection among hospitalized patients. The infection is more common following antibiotic therapy, and it is challenging to treat because of a high relapse rate.

Food allergy, intolerance, or sensitivity: What’s the difference, and why does it matter?

Many people have experienced unpleasant symptoms related to food, but such a reaction does not necessarily mean that you have a food allergy. The symptoms could indicate a food intolerance, food sensitivity, or possibly celiac disease.

Eosinophilic esophagitis: A new food-related allergic condition on the rise?

John Garber, MD

Contributor

Eosinophilic esophagitis is an allergic inflammation of the esophagus that most typically develops as an allergic response to certain foods. The exact cause is unclear, but if left untreated it can lead to permanent scarring or narrowing of the esophagus.