What are hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids are swollen blood vessels near the anus and lower rectum (lower part of the large intestine). These blood vessels are found in spongy cushions of tissue just under the lining of the anal canal. Hemorrhoids bleed when the blood vessels rupture (for example, from straining during a bowel movement).

Because bleeding can be a sign of colon cancer or colon polyps, you should consult with your doctor whenever you have bleeding from the rectum, blood in your stools, or blood in the toilet after a bowel movement. Your doctor might recommend a visual examination of the lower colon (sigmoidoscopy) or entire colon (colonoscopy).

What is gastroesophageal reflux disease?

When you swallow, food passes down your throat and through your esophagus to your stomach. A muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter controls the opening between the esophagus and the stomach, and remains tightly closed except when you swallow food. When this muscle fails to close, the acid-containing contents of the stomach can splash back up into the esophagus. This backward movement is called reflux. When stomach acid enters the lower part of the esophagus, it can produce a burning sensation, commonly referred to as heartburn.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when this reflux is frequent enough to affect your daily life, and/or damage your esophagus.

What is celiac disease?

Celiac disease (also known as celiac sprue or gluten-sensitive enteropathy) is a digestive and autoimmune disorder. An autoimmune disorder is one in which the immune system directs antibodies to attack the body. The antibody of celiac disease is formed after exposure to gluten, a protein found in grains. In people who have celiac disease, the immune system causes damage to the small intestine and prevents the proper absorption of nutrients from food.

What is liver failure?

Liver failure occurs when large parts of the liver become damaged beyond repair, and the liver is no longer able to function.

Liver failure is a life-threatening condition that demands urgent medical care. Most often, liver failure occurs gradually and over many years. However, a more rare condition known as acute liver failure occurs rapidly (in as little as 48 hours) and can be difficult to detect initially.

The most common causes of liver failure are: