Digestive tract conditions

Temporary upsets in digestive function often result from a little over indulgence, a trip abroad, or a passing bug. When symptoms last beyond a couple of days, or are severe, you should take notice. Here, Professor Bloom explains some of the red flag symptoms you should look out for.



The same applies to any sudden changes. Everyone’s bowel habits are different, but tend to be consistent, so a change in bowel habit should prompt a consultation. New onset of indigestion or belching may be a sign of gastro-oesophageal reflux. A little bright blood on toilet paper, or stools is not unusual, but as with blood mixed in the stools, should be investigated.

A new onset of gastrointestinal symptoms, or a different reaction to food and drink, can be harmless but it can also be nature’s way of giving us a warning sign. Below is a range of the digestive tract conditions that we treat.

Irritable bowel syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common digestive condition, which affects up to 20% of the population, across a wide age range. It’s a disorder of gut function rather than anything structural. Symptoms may include pain, bloating, or a change of bowel habit, either towards diarrhoea or constipation. Although a functional disorder and not dangerous in itself, IBS can be very distressing and have a significant psychological impact. Find more details on IBS here:

Ulcerative colitis

Colitis is a condition where the colon becomes inflamed, and can be caused several factors such as an infection or even a reaction to some drugs.

Ulcerative colitis (UC) affects about 250,000 people in the UK, across almost all age groups, and involves an inflammation of the lining of the bowel – the cause is not currently known. The most common symptom is blood present in the stool, however sometimes the inflammation involves only the lower part of the colon, which just causes bleeding.

Symptoms can extend to other areas of the body. Typically, these can include mouth ulcers, reddened skin, or eyes, plus swollen joints, along with physical weakness and tiredness.

It can be a debilitating condition, involving long-term damage to the colon, but this is usually controllable. Find more information here:

Crohn’s disease

Crohn’s disease is named after the American gastroenterologist who described the condition in the 1930s. It affects about 150,000 people in the UK, across a wide age range and can affect any part of the digestive tract, from top to bottom.

Among the common symptoms are diarrhoea, bleeding, abdominal pain and nausea, and the disease is also associated with weight loss, discomfort around the anal area (your bottom) and general tiredness, or ill health. There is a familial association, which implies a genetic predisposition.

Crohn’s can be controlled. Stopping smoking and implementing dietary changes can help, along with regular check-ups and suitable medication. Find more information here:


Food intolerance and coeliac disease

Food intolerance is an unpleasant reaction to certain foods, often (but not always) within a few hours of consumption. Common signs include abdominal distension, excessive wind, diarrhoea and, occasionally, skin rashes. Although a range of food and drink can have an adverse effect, intolerance to certain sugars, such as lactose, is common and we can test for this. Wheat intolerance is also common, but needs to be distinguished from coeliac disease, which is an immune intolerance to gluten.
People may also have issues with food additives, artificial colouring agents, preservatives, caffeine, and many other food components. You’ll find more information about the support and treatment we offer.

Coeliac disease is an immune reaction to part of a protein called gluten, which is found in wheat and some other cereals. It affects about 1 in 300 people and can present very insidiously with fatigue, non-specific symptoms and iron deficiency. A careful diagnosis is important. This is typically carried out using blood tests and confirmed with an endoscopy. The disease nearly always responds to a completely gluten-free diet, although it’s not an easy diet to keep to. People who are wheat intolerant but not Coeliac may feel better on a wheat-free diet.

Hiatus hernia and diverticular disease

hiatus hernia is where the stomach herniates upwards into the chest through a hole (hiatus) in the diaphragm. This can lead to heartburn, caused by acid reflux, inflammation of the oesophagus (oesophagitis), and sometimes a stricturing (narrowing) of the oesophagus.

Diverticular disease is another condition that’s common, especially as we age. This is where a small pouch of the bowel lining pokes through the muscles lining your gut, causing inflammation or bleeding.

We offer treatment for both, along with similar internal problems. This ranges from medication to, in a few cases, surgical intervention. Accurate diagnosis is key to successful treatment. Find more information here:

Conditions of the oesophagus

Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) is a disorder where the valve in the lower oesophagus fails and allows acid from the stomach to travel upwards. This can cause heartburn, a burning sensation in your throat, or mouth, or coughing, as it enters your lungs.

Oesophagitis is an inflammation of the oesophagus, often due to acid irritation from the stomach. If not treated, it can lead to scarring, or narrowing of the gullet and contribute to the onset of a condition called Barrett’s oesophagus. We offer treatment for the conditions mentioned above as well as other oesophageal disorders. The diagnostic procedures will vary – find out more here:

Colon and oesophageal cancer

Colon cancer affects 30,000 people in the UK every year. The good news is that, if caught early, it’s usually curable. It commonly arises from small growths known as polyps, which increase in size over time and can turn cancerous. These polyps can be detected and removed before they become malignant, using an endoscopic procedure called a colonoscopy.

Cancer of the oesophagus can have a variety of causes, including both smoking and Barrett’s oesophagus. You may notice difficulty swallowing, persistent indigestion, nausea after eating, discomfort in other parts of your upper body. Treatment has a good success rate, especially where the condition is found at an early stage. You can find more information on screening for digestive cancers here:

Book a consultation

To make an appointment, or if you have any questions, please contact my secretary, Orsi Baranya:


T:  +44 20 7483 5662
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