Our Gastroenterology Blog
Posts for: April, 2021
By Digestive Health Associates Endoscopy
April 19, 2021
Category: Gastroenterology Conditions
If you have been diagnosed with a form of hepatitis, chances are good that your doctor has referred you to a specialist. A gastroenterologist is a doctor that specializes in preventing, diagnosing, and treating conditions that impact the intestinal system including the liver. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with hepatitis, here’s what you should know.
What are the warning signs of hepatitis?
Hepatitis is a condition that causes inflammation of the liver. A viral infection is typically to blame for most types of hepatitis; however, autoimmune problems or heavy alcohol use can also lead to hepatitis.
The five main types of hepatitis are A, B, C, D, and E.
- Hepatitis A is acute
- Hepatitis B, C, and D are often persistent and chronic
- Hepatitis E is typically acute
How does someone develop hepatitis?
Hepatitis is contracted in several ways including,
- Hepatitis A is transmitted through contaminated water or food
- Hepatitis B is often transmitted through bodily fluids including blood and semen
- Hepatitis C is transmitted through sexual contact, coming in contact with infected bodily fluids, or through IV drug use
- Hepatitis D is transmitted through contact with infected blood (typically occurs in conjunction with hepatitis B)
- Hepatitis E is transmitted through contaminated water
What are the warning signs?
As many as half of people with hepatitis don’t even know that they have it. Some of the signs and symptoms include,
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Joint pain
- Dark urine
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
- Pale-colored stools
How is hepatitis treated?
Again, the type of hepatitis you have will determine how to best treat it. Acute viral forms of hepatitis such as hepatitis A will go away on their own, so treatment options may be geared toward easing your symptoms and making sure that you get enough rest. Those with more chronic forms will need ongoing management and treatment from a gastroenterologist. Your GI doctor may prescribe antiviral medications to prevent or at least slow liver damage for those with chronic hepatitis such as hepatitis B. Some patients may even require surgery.
If you have questions or concerns about hepatitis, don’t hesitate to talk with your gastroenterologist. A gastroenterologist is going to be an integral part of your treatment and recovery plan.
By Digestive Health Associates Endoscopy
April 06, 2021
Category: Digestive Health
Sure, we know that no one really wants to talk about their bowels; however, when something just isn’t working properly, embarrassment goes right out the window as you search for answers. Well, search no more. If you are dealing with recurring or persistent bouts of constipation, a gastroenterologist can help shed light on what might be going on.
What is constipation?
Constipation is defined as having fewer than three bowel movements a week. Chronic constipation occurs when symptoms continue for more than a few weeks. Some of the causes of chronic constipation include,
- Poor diet or a low-fiber diet
- Sedentary lifestyle (aka lack of physical activity)
- Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
- Bowel obstructions
- High levels of calcium in the bloodstream (hypercalcemia)
- Certain medications (e.g., diuretics; opioids; tricyclic antidepressants)
When is constipation a concern?
The first step you should take is to change your diet and lifestyle to see if that helps your bowel movements. If constipation does not improve then it’s time to see your doctor. Make sure to write down any other symptoms you may be experiencing along with constipation such as abdominal pain, fatigue, unexpected weight loss, or hair loss. We will go through the medications you’re taking and decide whether we should run blood tests to rule out certain health problems such as diabetes or thyroid function.
In some cases, a gastroenterologist may recommend a colonoscopy, which allows your doctor to be able to better examine the colon and large intestines to look for obstructions, bleeds, ulcers, inflammation, irritable bowel disease, or other possible causes of constipation.
Most patients can improve their constipation issues through simple dietary and lifestyle changes, or through over-the-counter products; however, if you still don’t get relief, our gastroenterologist may recommend a prescription-strength medication that can help with chronic constipation.
If chronic constipation is caused by an underlying health problem such as diabetes or hypothyroidism you must get the proper medication and treatment you need from your doctor. By getting these health problems under control we can also alleviate your gastrointestinal symptoms.
While a bout of constipation every once in a while isn’t usually a cause for concern, if you’re dealing with constipation that lasts days or continues to come back, you should talk with a gastroenterologist to find out what’s going on.