Common GI Problems

Acid Reflux or Heartburn

Acid reflux or heartburn is one of the most common reasons to see your doctor. It is a bothersome condition that may affect your eating habits, sleep, and general quality of life.

Heartburn occurs when acid contents of the stomach flows up into the esophagus in excessive frequency and amount. When acid reflux is constant, this becomes a disease called gastroesophageal reflux disease or “GERD”. Constant exposure of the esophagus to stomach acid can damage the esophagus, lead to difficulty swallowing, inflammation of the esophagus, or even cancer of the esophagus.

Bile Duct Stones

Stones can form in the gallbladder and migrate down to the bile ducts. If gallstones are stuck in the bile duct, they can cause pain, obstruction, and inflammation. A severe obstruction of the bile duct can cause acute cholangitis – a life threatening emergency that requires the expertise of a gastroenterologist.

Our physicians at Providence Gastroenterology and Liver Associates are able to perform a specialized procedure, called ERCP, to relieve the obstruction of the bile ducts and work in conjunction with a surgeon, who can perform gallbladder surgery.


Bloating is a common gastrointestinal symptom. It can be caused by several conditions such as swallowing air, certain gas-producing foods, or malabsorption. You should consult a gastroenterologist if you have excessive bloating with unexplained weight loss, worsening abdominal pain, and chronic diarrhea.

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease in a condition in which the body could not tolerate gluten, a protein found in bread, cereals, and pasta. Patients with severe celiac disease can have chronic inflammation in their small bowel and can lead to malabsorption and other complications. Aside from avoiding gluten, a gastroenterologist can evaluate the condition of your small bowel and help you manage the symptoms of celiac disease.

Chronic Diarrhea

Loose stools that last more than four weeks can be classified as chronic diarrhea. There are multiple causes of chronic diarrhea. You should seek medical attention if you have diarrhea for more than four weeks that is accompanied by fever, bloody stools, and weight loss.

Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer affects the large intestines and the rectum. It is one of the most common causes of cancer-related deaths. However, it is preventable through timely screening and removal of any precancerous polyps.

Of all the available tests to check for colon cancer – such as stool tests and CT scan; only colonoscopy provides the ability to remove precancerous polyps or even early colon cancers.

At Providence Gastroenterology and Liver Associates, our experienced, board-certified gastroenterologists perform this life-saving procedure on a routine basis. They follow the latest guidelines for performing high-quality, safe, and comfortable colonoscopy. In addition, our clinic staff will help you prepare for this important preventative procedure.


Constipation refers to difficulty in having regular bowel movements. The stools can be too hard and infrequent. Although this is a common problem; constipation should be evaluated if you have sudden difficulty moving your bowels, bleeding, worsening abdominal pain, unexplained weight loss or family history of colon cancer. A gastroenterologist can perform endoscopic examination to rule out serious causes in the setting of constipation that is accompanied by other worrisome signs and symptoms.

Difficulty Swallowing

Although one can have trouble swallowing if you eat too fast, persistent difficulty in swallowing that is accompanied by either pain, weight loss, sensation of food getting stuck, and gagging can be a symptom of a serious problem. A gastroenterologist can directly examine your esophagus, to look for obstruction or check for the normal movement and contraction of your esophagus while eating. Do not delay your consultation if you have sudden difficulty swallowing.

H. pylori infection

H. pylori is a type of bacteria that resides in the stomach. There are a lot of people with H. pylori infection. It usually does not cause any symptom but in some patients it can lead to ulcers in the stomach. Chronic H. pylori infection is also a risk factor for developing stomach cancer. Your physician can test H. pylori with breath tests, stool tests, and endoscopy with biopsies of the stomach lining. Once detected, H. pylori can be treated with a combination of antibiotics.


Hepatitis covers multiple diseases that cause inflammation of the liver. While hepatitis is typically due to a viral infection, there are other causes such as medications, alcohol, hereditary conditions, or rare problems such as autoimmune hepatitis. Patients with hepatitis may not experience symptoms until there is advanced liver damage.

We have a dedicated staff at Providence Gastroenterology and Liver Associates with the knowledge and expertise in advanced liver disease. We are one of the few, community-based, practices in western Texas with a full-time liver transplant specialist on-site.

Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can often be classified as either as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. These conditions are chronic and maybe debilitating. These diseases often cause diarrhea, pain, fatigue, weight loss, malnutrition and other serious complications.

IBD requires the expertise of a gastroenterologist. The IBD patient often needs long-term treatment and support. The disease can sometimes flare and may require frequent hospitalization. Rest assured our gastroenterologists will be available to care for you during these difficult times and provide you with several treatment options based on your preferences. Our clinic staff will assist you in connecting with support groups such as the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome, also known as “IBS”, is a common condition that affects all ages. IBS can manifest as cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, or constipation. A hypersensitive gastrointestinal tract is the common cause of these symptoms. There is no specific treatment for IBS; but there are an assortment of medications, diet, and life style changes that can help patients manage their symptoms.

Our gastroenterologists at Providence Gastroenterology and Liver Associates are here to support you and provide you with a thorough evaluation and reassure you that your symptoms are not caused by a more serious condition. Our clinic staff are available to provide you with support and strategies to manage your IBS-related symptoms.


Jaundice maybe a sign of liver or bile duct disorder. It presents with yellowing of the skin and the eyes. Jaundice requires a prompt and thorough evaluation. It may be a sign of liver failure if the patient continues to deteriorate and develops changes in mental status.

Our liver clinic at Providence Gastroenterology and Liver Associates can provide a timely and comprehensive evaluation of the cause of your jaundice.


Pancreatitis refers to inflammation of the pancreas. This usually presents with severe abdominal pain. It can be acute, chronic or even recurrent. Acute pancreatitis can be a serious medical condition and may require hospitalization. There are many causes of pancreatitis. More frequently it could be caused by gallstones, excessive alcohol intake, or medications.

Our advanced endoscopist at Providence Gastroenterology and Liver Associates can perform advanced endoscopic procedures such as ERCP and EUS to fully evaluate your pancreas and provide minimally-invasive therapies for complex pancreatic disorders.

Pancreas Cyst

Cysts are small fluid collections in the pancreas. They are often benign. However, some cysts can become precancerous and may require surveillance or even biopsy. Our advanced endoscopist can perform state-of-the-art, endoscopic ultrasound examination of the pancreas in order to evaluate these lesions and their risk in becoming pancreatic cancer.