Health Info

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General Health - Upper Digestive Disorder

Upper Digestive Anatomy


A long muscular tube in the chest area that connects the mouth to the stomach.

Lower esophageal sphincter: A muscle at the end of the esophagus which controls the opening into the stomach.


Muscular partition separating the abdominal cavity from the chest cavity.


A muscle at the end of the stomach which controls the opening into the intestine.


The first part of the small intestine attached to the stomach. Neutralization of stomach acid occurs in the duodenum.

Upper Digestive Disorders

Reflux with Esophagitis: The flowing back (or reflux) of the acid that helps you digest your food from the stomach into the esophagus. The acid irritates the esophagus producing heartburn (a pain that travels upward from the stomach) and occasionally a bitter taste in the mouth

Hiatal Hernia: Protrusion of the stomach through the diaphragm usually from an inborn weakness in that muscular ring. These hernias vary greatly in size and may cause no symptoms to severe heartburn.

Gastritis: Inflammation of the stomach lining usually caused by drugs (aspirin, ibuprofen, etc.), alcohol, infection (viruses or a bacteria called Helicobacter pylori), or reflux of fluids from the duodenum into the stomach. Gastritis causes discomfort high in the abdomen often aggravated by eating. Loss of appetite and nausea with or without vomiting are frequently present.

Ulcer: A break in the membrane lining of the duodenum or stomach. Classic symptoms include a gnawing or burning pain high in the abdomen 1-3 hours after meals, possibly relieved by meals or antacids. Ulcers arise largely from NSAID medications (aspirin, ibuprofen, etc.) or the presence of Helicobacter bacteria, especially in smokers. There is no proof that ulcers are caused by stress or diet. Duodenal ulcer is a chronic condition and there is a good chance that it will come back. Absence of symptoms does not necessarily mean the ulcer has healed. Duodenal ulcer can have serious complications including bleeding and perforation through the intestinal wall.


Call UHS if any of the following happens:


In an emergency go to Mount Nittany Medical Center or call 911 for an ambulance.

Test Results and Advice Nurse

Please call the nurse for test results and advice: 863-4463


Appointments can be made online via the UHS website, by phone or in person. If you are unable to keep your appointment, please call and cancel. Otherwise you will be charged for the visit.

To schedule or cancel appointments call 863-0774 or schedule your appointment online through the UHS website

This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. This information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.

Approved by the UHS Patient Education Committee
Revised 11/11/15

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