Medical & Slang Words for the Digestive System F to M

A - E      N - Z

In this continuation page you will find more words that will help you if you have to visit the doctor or hospital when you are suffering from a digestive complaint or if you need some slang words to use with your friends or just to explain more fully what is going on.

F

Fart

Fart is a very old word which has been traced right back to the Indo-European language (the forerunner of most European languages) long before English existed.

It used to be an everyday word to describe flatulence or wind but by the twentieth century it was seen as somewhat vulgar.

The French word for fart is 'pet' so every time our French friends come to visit and see a Pet Shop they dissolve into laughter!

If you want to know more about what causes a fart which is wet then see here.

Feces - Faeces

A Latin word used in medical and formal settings for the waste matter passed from the body via the anus.

Its use in this way dates from the seventeenth century and it also has the meaning 'dregs'.

Feces is made up on average from about 75% water and the rest equally divided between bacteria which have outlived their usefulness, indigestible vegetable matter and waste products like food colorants, bits of unused medicines, and cholesterol. 

It gets its color from the breakdown of waste blood cells. For more information about the different poop colors see here for black, white, red, yellow, blue and green.

Flatulence

A medical term for having more gas (flatus) than you would like in the intestinal tract or gut. In other words having excessive wind.

Flatus

A medical term for the gas produced in the intestines.

Floater

Poop/poo that floats and is difficult to flush (not to be confused with a floater in the eye, which is a deposit that floats across your field of vision).

Floaters are not normally anything to worry about and are caused by extra gas or fat in the stool after a very fibrous or fatty meal.

Occasionally if they are persistent and accompanied by other symptoms like weight loss they can be a sign of malabsorption. For more information see Steatorrhea.

G

Gallbladder

The gallbladder is a small hollow organ near the liver used for storing bile. This is released into the first part of the small intestine, the duodenum, if we have eaten a high fat meal.

Bile which is produced in the liver aids the digestion of fat.

Diagram of gallbladder, liver, stomach and pancreas.

It is possible to lead a normal life without a gallbladder as small amounts of bile go directly into the small intestine. However, many people in this situation without the backup bile in the gallbladder have to avoid high fat foods or they may end up with symptoms like diarrhea.

GERD

GERD stands for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. This is when acid regularly washes back from the stomach into the esophagus or food tube.

This happens to most people occasionally and is then known as heartburn but if the burning sensation and pain felt behind the breastbone is more regular and severe it may need treatment. 

Ghost Wipe

This means that after a bowel movement the first wipe is clean and there is nothing on the toilet paper. This might seem like heaven and saves on the toilet tissue but the ghost wipe can either be great or not so great depending on the situation.

Part of me would love this to happen but part of me knows that it could indicate that I am constipated. If your poop/poo is hard and dry it may leave no trace. This is not good!

Gut

An informal word used to describe the whole tube that carries and digests food from the mouth to the anus.

Also used to describe the abdomen as in 'He has a large gut'.

We now know that 'gut feelings' have a biological basis because there is a layer of brain cells or neurons which runs throughout the entire gut called the Enteric Nervous System.

This is also called the second brain. It can operate by itself but it also communicates with the first brain via the vagus nerve.

H

Hershey Squirts

Liquid diarrhea often accompanied by gas. This is named after the American Hershey brand of chocolate syrup. Unfortunately if you are not close to a toilet it often results in soiled clothes.

I

IBD

IBD stands for Inflammatory Bowel Disease. This is an overarching phrase which describes more than one disorder where different parts of the gut are inflamed and damaged.

It generally refers to Crohn's Disease, Ulcerative Colitis and Microscopic Colitis.

IBS

IBS stands for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. This is a type of functional disorder meaning that the bowel looks perfectly normal but it does not function properly.

Sometimes it will move too fast resulting in diarrhea or IBS-D, sometimes it moves too slowly resulting in constipation or IBS-C and sometimes both symptoms can be present giving us alternating IBS-A, sometimes also called mixed or IBS-M.

The symptoms can vary from person to person and the cause and treatment options are still being debated. It is possible that there may be different causes for different people. For less common symptoms that may surprise you see here.

Indigestion

What is indigestion? Many people use this word but mean different things by it.

It is a very general term meaning symptoms of discomfort felt after eating or drinking, resulting from difficulty in digesting whatever has been consumed.

Some people use it to mean acid reflux from the stomach (heartburn) causing a burning pain in the chest. Others use it to mean dyspepsia.

Dyspepsia - symptoms in the upper abdomen such as discomfort, pain, bloating, a feeling of being full even if you haven't eaten much. Also trapped wind and/or belching, feeling sick and heartburn.

So this is a general word that can cover a lot of different symptoms!

Ileum

The ileum is the third part of the small intestine that connects it to the large intestine. It absorbs certain vitamins like Vitamin B12 and other nutrients which have not been absorbed higher up. It also produces hormones which are released into the blood stream.

J

Jackson Pollock Poop or Poo

Having a bowel movement which explodes into little pieces like shrapnel and sticks to the sides of the toilet bowl resembling the splattering of a Jackson Pollock painting.

Jackson Pollock Number 31 1950 MoMA New York.Jackson Pollock, Number 31, 1950, MoMA New York City

This can happen to anyone especially if they have had a night on the curry and beer! It is usually a sign that the bowel movement is accompanied by a lot of gas.

In the UK we tend to call this pebbledashing after a type of outside wall covering popular in the early twentieth century.

If it is just a one off then it is usually nothing to worry about but occasionally this type of explosive diarrhea can be a sign of a parasitic infection especially if you have been traveling in parasite prone areas.

A common cause of explosive parasitic diarrhea in the US is the parasite    Giardia lamblia.

DiarrheaNurse Tip: 

  • As the pieces of poop are so small they dry very quickly and stick making them hard to remove. Flush immediately (with the lid down) to prevent this happening.

Jejunum

The jejunum is the second or middle part of the small intestine located between the duodenum and the ileum. Its main function is to absorb the nutrients which have previously been digested by the enzyme action in the duodenum.

Jobbie

This alternative word for poop or poo is particularly popular in Scotland.

K

Keich or Keache

Another Scottish slang word for poo or poop. 'To have a keich' is like 'to take a dump'. It usually has the nuanced meaning of a big one.

It can also be used like many words in this category to describe something which is not good, as in 'that restaurant was keich'.

L

Large Intestine

An alternative word for the colon made up from the ascending, transverse, descending and sigmoid colons.

Liver

The liver is an organ that we cannot live without. It is located in the right upper part of the abdomen. It has many, even hundreds, of different functions.

It is not part of the gastrointestinal tract but it is an accessory organ which aids digestion. It helps to break down proteins, carbohydrates and fats.

An artificial liver has not been invented; so look after the one you have!

Log Jam

This slang expression, which comes from logs getting stuck while being transported down a river, covers two different scenarios. Either:

  1. A toilet clogged with feces that won't flush.
  2. A full back passage full of feces that you can push out.

DiarrheaNurse Tips:

  • If your toilet is clogged up because you have a log jam, first try turning the toilet brush upside down and use the handle to try and dislodge the blockage (clean afterwards) and then flush.
  • Failing this I am afraid you will have to get the rubber gloves on and and fish some of the poop out onto a pad of toilet paper and then flush in stages.
  • If you are suffering from constipation read this article for tips about what to do.

M

Melena - Melaena

The medical word for dark, black sticky diarrhea, containing partly digested blood which often has a strong metallic smell and looks like tar.

This indicates that there is some internal bleeding somewhere.

Microbiome

The human microbiome is a collection of micro-organisms that live on and in our bodies that help us to do many things that we cannot do ourselves unaided, like digest food, synthesize vitamins, stimulate and support the immune system, neutralize cancer causing substances, metabolize drugs, protect the gut lining and even influence our brain.

We have ten times as many of these microbes as we do human cells. They run into the trillions and the majority of them live in the gut, mainly in the large intestine.

These friendly microbes/flora in the intestinal or gut microbiome help keep the numbers of harmful microbes at low levels or even kill them off completely.

The gut microbiome is like a giant forest and we will be healthier if this 'forest' is diverse with many different species of friendly bacteria, viruses and fungi.

It does not do us any good if it is like a commercial timber forest with only a small number of species!

One of the ways of aiding this diversity is to eat a wide range of foods particularly fruit and vegetables as our bugs do not all like to eat the same thing!


Fruit and vegetables in a metal basket.


Studying this unique environment, which is slightly different in each of us, is one of the hottest things in science at the moment.

It seems likely that in the not too distant future the treatment and prevention of several diseases, like Parkinson's Disease for example, could take leaps forward.

It has even been found that the mix of microbes in our gut influences how much we weigh!

Montezuma's Revenge

Bad diarrhea, especially if caused while traveling in Mexico or other parts of Central and South America

Mouth - Gob - Hatch - Trap

You may be wondering why I am bothering to write about the mouth because surely everybody knows what a mouth is?

Of course the mouth helps us communicate and is essential for speech, creating facial expressions and as a back up for the respiratory system if the nose is blocked but it is also an important part of the digestive system.

The teeth and the muscles in the mouth prepare the food for digestion through the process of mastication (chewing), breaking it up into small pieces which are easier to swallow and digest.

The ability to chew is essential for good health as if we have problems our diet will be less than optimum.

Saliva helps to soften and bind the food together into a ball called a bolus making it easier to swallow and the tongue tastes the food to make sure that we don't swallow any poisons!

We have enzymes in our saliva and one of them, salivary amylase starts the process of digestion by breaking down the starch in foods such as rice, potatoes and pasta into smaller sugars so that they can be utilized by the body.

Some of us have more salivary amylase genes than others and these people tend to be thinner, with lower blood sugar because the body gets the hit of sugar that it is looking for more quickly and so they tend to eat fewer carbs.

Also in these people insulin gets released from the pancreas more quickly and so is more efficient at keeping their blood sugar under control.

People who don't have enough salivary amylase have to rely on pancreatic amylase which is released into the small intestine to break down their starchy carbs which takes a lot longer!




DiarrheaNurse hopes that you have found these tips and definitions useful. For the rest of the alphabet please follow the links below:

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Diagram of gallbladder and liver By Jiju Kurian Punnoose [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

Jackson Pollock, Number 31, 1950 MoMA New York, https://www.flickr.com/photos/detlefschobert/6137821910

Fruit and veg in basket: https://www.flickr.com/photos/97513256@N06/9044357936


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