Tag Archives: Medicine

Ulcerative Colitis – Faulty Immune Response Cited as Possible Cause

Based in Torrance, California, Robert M. Webman, MD, is a gastroenterologist with extensive experience in gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopic procedures. One common GI problem that Dr. Robert Webman treats is ulcerative colitis.

Estimated to affect 700,000 Americans, ulcerative colitis is a chronic disease of the colon (large intestine) that typically affects people in their mid-30s and older.

Ulcerative colitis occurs when the colon’s lining becomes inflamed and affected by ulcers, or open sores. The result is cramp-like abdominal discomfort and a colon that empties with increased frequency and urgency. Typical symptoms include diarrhea and bloody stool. In addition, people may experience fatigue and reduced energy, as well as loss of appetite and weight loss. These symptoms are often periodic in nature, and many patients experience periods of months or years with no distress.

Researchers believe that ulcerative colitis is related to the complex interactions between the immune system and bacterial and viral infections affecting the colon. In particular, the immune system mistakes normal bacteria and food in the system as invading substances and generates excess white blood cells that ultimately cause ulceration.

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Gastroenterology: An Overview

By Dr. Robert M. Webman

With the plethora of subspecialties in medicine, patients frequently experience confusion about what type of doctor to visit for specific problems. As a gastroenterologist, I help patients with an array of conditions involving the gastrointestinal tract, including all of the organs in the digestive system. With such a wide scope, gastroenterologists provide care for common conditions such as acid reflux, ulcers, gallbladder disease, irritable bowel syndrome, nutrient malabsorption, and many others.

Gastroenterologists are medical doctors who have completed a four-year medical degree, a three-year internal medicine residency, and a gastroenterology fellowship. While learning diagnosis and treatment, gastroenterologists also receive training dedicated to endoscopy, which involves employing lighted tubes to see inside the intestinal tract.

Your general practitioner may refer you to a gastroenterologist, and in many cases, you may be able to self-refer as well. Nearly all people visit a gastroenterologist at some point in their lives because some of the critical functions doctors in this specialty perform include sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy, which physicians recommend to detect colorectal cancer beginning at the age of 50.

About the author: Dr. Robert M. Webman has practiced as a gastroenterologist for more than 25 years. Along with his work at his private practice, Dr. Webman also serves as an Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine at University of California, Los Angeles Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology.

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Robert M. Webman, M.D.: An Overview of Pancreatic Diseases

An accomplished gastroenterologist, Robert M. Webman, M.D., possesses specialized knowledge of pancreatic diseases. In this article, Dr. Webman provides an overview of the most common conditions afflicting the pancreas.

Role of the Pancreas

A gland located behind the stomach, the pancreas plays an important part in digestion. The pancreas helps to break down food and also regulates blood sugar levels. When the pancreas becomes damaged, individuals can maintain their health either through insulin injections, the use of medication, or transplantation surgery, depending on the specifics of the disease.

Pancreatitis

An inflammatory condition, pancreatitis occurs when the digestive enzymes of the pancreas begin working on the gland itself. Normally, the enzymes are only activated in the small intestine. For unknown reasons, they can sometimes become active in the pancreas itself, causing swelling and bleeding. Predictors of panceatitis can include alcohol abuse, genetic factors, autoimmune diseases, and high triglyceride levels. Pancreatitis can occur and recede suddenly and unexpectedly (acute pancreatitis) or gradually over time (chronic pancreatitis). Pancreatitis can also cause pseudocysts, fluid-filled sacs within the pancreas, or abscesses, pockets of infection filled with bacteria and pus. Treatment of pancreatitis includes removal of blockages and limiting the amount of food taken orally.

Pancreatic Cancer

One of the most common kinds of cancer, pancreatic cancer can prove difficult to detect. Early symptoms include yellowing skin, weight loss, fatigue, and lower back pain. Tumors are difficult to spot because the pancreas is sandwiched between other organs. The most common treatments for pancreatic cancer include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery, which may be performed via endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP).

Cystic Fibrosis

A genetic disease, cystic fibrosis affects the mucus glands throughout the body, including those in the respiratory and digestive systems. People with cystic fibrosis produce extremely thick and viscous mucus that can obstruct the normal functioning of the organs and lead to chronic infections. The mucus prevents the pancreas from releasing insulin and other digestive enzymes into the intestines, leading to malnutrition and a range of related complications. Previously considered a fatal childhood illness, cystic fibrosis can now be managed through aggressive medical treatment.

Diabetes

Both types of diabetes severely affect the pancreas. In type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks the pancreatic cells that make insulin. In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas becomes overworked and no longer produces sufficient insulin to respond to changes in blood sugar. The standard treatment for both types of diabetes involves diet modification and insulin injections. Left untreated, diabetes causes an entire host of health problems, including damage to the heart, kidneys, eyes, and gums.

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