Esophageal and Swallowing Issues

Connecting the mouth to the stomach, the esophagus is a muscular tube through which food and liquids travel as part of the digestive process. Some children may have difficulty swallowing, food refusal, or chronic vomiting, reflux or regurgitation.

The pediatric gastroenterologists at Kalispell Regional Healthcare treat esophageal and swallowing-related conditions, including:
  • Chronic vomiting
  • Dysphagia (difficult/painful swallowing)
  • Eosinophilic esophagitis
  • Feeding difficulties and poor weight gain
  • Reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Food impactions and foreign body impactions
  • Gastrostomy feedings and nasogastric tube feedings

Intestinal Issues

We diagnose and treat a variety of both small and large intestinal issues. The small intestine is responsible for the continued digestion and absorption of nutrients. The large intestine is primarily responsible for the reabsorption of water from the digestive tract and the formation of stool (poop). The intestines also contain a complex variety of helpful bacteria, called the microbiota, that play a huge role in human health and disease.

Some of the intestinal issues we treat include:
  • Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity
  • Constipation
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Food allergies and sensitivities
  • Gas and bloating/distention
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn's and colitis
  • Malabsorption
  • Intestinal infections (bacterial and parasitic)
  • Motility issues such as colonic dysmotility and Hirschsprung’s disease
  • Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth

Liver and Gallbladder Issues

The liver is the body’s detox organ and is responsible for a number of important metabolic processes, as well as cholesterol, blood sugar and blood lipid regulation, and bile formation. The liver creates bile, which is then stored in the gallbladder for use in the digestion of dietary fat as an emulsifier. Any inflammation or irritation of the liver is called hepatitis, and can be mild or severe and even life-threatening. This can occur from viral infections, metabolic disturbances, drugs or environmental toxins.

Any abnormality in a child’s liver enzymes should be examined by a pediatric gastroenterologist to make sure it is not a sign of a serious medical condition. Jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin) can be a sign of serious liver or gallbladder issues and needs to be evaluated by a pediatric gastroenterologist.

Some of the liver and gallbladder issues we treat are:
  • Acute and chronic hepatitis (autoimmune, infectious, metabolic)
  • Gallstones and gallbladder dysfunction
  • Bile duct disorders such as primary sclerosing cholangitis
  • Biliary atresia
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Metabolic liver disorders
  • Neonatal jaundice and cholestasis

Nutritional Issues

Good nutrition is the cornerstone of health. Most degenerative/chronic diseases are actually diseases of nutrition or are worsened by poor nutrition. With every patient we see, we review their nutritional status and how it is affecting their health.

Some nutrition-specific issues we deal with include:
  • Food allergies and intolerance
  • Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity
  • Milk protein intolerance
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Poor weight gain (failure to thrive)
  • Obesity and related issues
  • Unexplained weight loss

Pancreatic Issues

The pancreas is a gland in the upper abdomen primarily responsible for the body's supply of digestive enzymes as well as several hormones such as insulin, which is required to control blood sugar levels. Issues with the pancreas can cause intense abdominal pain, vomiting and difficulty in digestion.

Some of the most common issues relating to the pancreas include:
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
  • Pancreatic insufficiency (lack of enzymes)

Stomach Issues

Abdominal pain, or tummy aches, are one of the most common complaints among pediatric patients. This can be caused by a variety of stomach or intestinal issues.

Some of the most common stomach conditions we treat include:
  • Gastritis (irritation/inflammation of the stomach)
  • Chronic nausea
  • Gastroparesis (slow stomach emptying)
  • Ulcers, peptic ulcer disease and H. pylori
  • Recurrent or chronic abdominal pain