Our Gastroenterology Blog

Posts for: March, 2022

By Digestive Health Associates Endoscopy
March 30, 2022
Tags: Diarrhea  
DiarrheaDiarrhea might not be something you want to talk about; however, it happens to everyone. Whether it’s a stomach bug, something you ate, or a more serious and underlying digestive issue, it’s important to recognize when you should turn to a gastroenterologist for treatment.

Causes of Diarrhea

The most common cause of diarrhea is a viral infection that impacts the stomach. Some people call it “stomach flu” even though it’s not caused by influenza. Other causes of diarrhea include,
  • Food allergies
  • Alcohol use
  • Intestinal diseases such as Crohn’s disease
  • Bacterial infections
  • Diabetes
  • Overactive thyroid
  • Medications
  • Running (known as “runner’s diarrhea”)
Causes for Recurring Diarrhea

If you are dealing with loose stools for more than four weeks, then you are dealing with chronic diarrhea. Often, this is caused by an intestinal disorder such as colitis, Crohn’s disease, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). If you are dealing with chronic diarrhea you should see a gastroenterologist to find out what’s going on.

When to See a Doctor

Since diarrhea can also lead to dehydration it’s important that you seek medical attention if you are also experiencing symptoms of dehydration. You should also call your gastroenterologist right away if you experience,
  • Blood or mucus in the stool
  • Black stools
  • Diarrhea that lasts more than two days
  • A high fever (over 102 F) that last more than one day
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
Treating Diarrhea

A gastroenterologist will need to figure out what’s causing your diarrhea before providing you with treatment options. Mild diarrhea may be treated with over-the-counter options and making sure the patient stays hydrated. A gastroenterologist may need to perform stool sample testing or a colonoscopy to detect certain conditions such as intestinal disorders. Once a diagnosis has been made, your GI doctor can provide you with the proper lifestyle changes along with medications and other options.

While diarrhea is often not a cause for concern if you do find yourself feeling concerned it’s always best to play it safe and call your gastroenterologist to find out whether you could benefit from a proper medical evaluation.

By Digestive Health Associates Endoscopy
March 30, 2022
Category: Digestive Health
Tags: Gut Health  
Gut HealthThere is more than meets the eye when it comes to our gut, and we are learning new things about it all the time. While a gastroenterologist can certainly help you treat problems impacting your gut, it’s also important for people to understand their gut, how it works, and ways to keep it healthy. Here are some useful facts that everyone should know about gut health.

The Gut-Brain Connection

Most people don’t think about how their guts impact the rest of their health, so you may be surprised to discover that the gut and brain are interconnected. This means that your anxiety and depression could actually be signs of gut issues. After all, the gut is where the majority of serotonin is produced and 70% of our immune system is also in our guts. For our guts to function optimally, and for us to feel our best, it’s important that we are feeding the good bacteria in our guts and protecting the gut from bad bacteria.

Know the Signs of Gut Issues

While most of us will experience gut problems at some point, it’s also important to recognize recurring or persistent symptoms that might warrant seeing a gastroenterologist for care. Signs of gut problems include,
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Bloating
  • Stomach pains
  • Loose stools
  • Constipation
  • Unexpected weight loss
Consume More Gut-Healthy Foods

Our food culture is based around a lot of fast, processed foods, so it’s not surprising that so many Americans are dealing with gut problems that could easily be remedied by simply improving their diet. Gut-healthy foods include,
  • Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, miso, and kimchi provide the gut with prebiotics (which feed the probiotics or good bacteria in the gut)
  • Olive oil
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Avocados
  • Live yogurt and kefir
  • Garlic
  • Lean protein such as wild-caught salmon
  • Low fructose fruits such as berries and citrus fruits
Say No to Common Gut Offenders

American diets are high in sugar and bad fats, so it’s no surprise that our guts are in distress. Some of the most common gut offenders include,
  • Low-fiber diets
  • High sugar diets
  • Vegetable and seed oils
  • Alcohol
  • Antibiotics
  • Medications
If you have to take antibiotics, talk with your gastroenterologist about probiotics and other types of supplements and steps you can take to protect the gut and help repopulate the gut bacteria after taking these medications.

When it comes to concerns about your health, trust your gut! Don’t ignore recurring digestive issues. A gastroenterologist can help you figure out what’s going on and how to best address these issues.

By Digestive Health Associates Endoscopy
March 30, 2022
Category: Gastroenterology
Tags: Colostomy Bags  
Colostomy BagsWhen there is an injury or health problem that impacts the digestive tract and you’re unable to pass stool on your own you may need a colostomy bag. If you or someone you love needs a colostomy bag, it’s natural to have questions about how they will work, as well as care instructions. A gastroenterologist can answer any and all questions, and alleviate concerns around getting a colostomy.

When is a colostomy needed?

A colostomy may be something that’s needed for only a short period while other individuals may require a colostomy bag for life. When the colon doesn’t work properly or the bowels need time to heal, a colostomy bag can ensure that stool passes through an opening in the colon and into the bag rather than through the anus. Conditions or health problems that may require a temporary colostomy include:
  • Trauma or injury to the rectum, anus, or colon
  • Diverticulitis
  • Bowel obstructions
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
A permanent colostomy may be necessary for advanced stages of colorectal cancer or untreatable fecal incontinence, or when part of the rectum or anus needs to be removed (often due to disease).

What is a colostomy?

A colostomy is a surgical procedure performed by a gastroenterologist or gastric surgeon in which they create an opening in the abdominal wall (known as a stoma) through which a colostomy bag can be connected. When stool passes through the colon it will no longer exit through the anus but instead through a colostomy bag.

Do I always have to wear my colostomy bag?

Today, clothes can very discreetly hide a colostomy bag so this shouldn’t be a problem and most people feel comfortable wearing their colostomy bag all the time for peace of mind; however, in some instances, you may be able to detect when you’re going to have a bowel movement, and you may decide to use your colostomy bags only during these times.

Can you reverse a colostomy?

If your colostomy was temporary, your gastroenterologist will discuss the reversal process with you. You will continue to come in for routine checkups and monitoring after your colostomy to determine the best time for a reversal. In most cases, it can take several years before a reversal surgery is performed and your health will be a determining factor in whether this surgery is right for you.

If you have questions about colostomy bags, how they work, or how to care for them, call your gastroenterologist today. They can provide you with the information you need to make living with a colostomy bag easier.

By Digestive Health Associates Endoscopy
March 30, 2022
Gallbladder AttackYour gallbladder is a small organ on the upper right side of your abdomen that’s responsible for storing and releasing bile to aid in digestion. As with any organ or system in the body, problems can occur. When bile and minerals develop into deposits or gallstones in the gallbladder, this can lead to very severe and sudden pain. Recognizing the signs of a gallbladder attack can mean getting the quicker care you need from a gastroenterologist.

What is a gallbladder attack?

A gallbladder attack is often what happens when there is a gallstone blockage in the duct of the gallbladder. Symptoms can last where from a few minutes to a few hours, but it’s important to seek immediate medical attention if you are dealing with severe abdominal pain. The attack may go away on its own without any complications, but it’s still important that you schedule an appointment with your gastroenterologist to make sure that your symptoms are due to a gallbladder attack and to rule out other potential health problems.

What are the signs and symptoms of a gallbladder attack?

Wondering if you could be dealing with a gallbladder attack? You could be if you are experiencing:
  • A dull, sharp, or cramping pain in the upper right side or center of the abdomen
  • Pain that radiates to the back or shoulder blades
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes (also known as jaundice)
Are there risk factors for gallstones?

As with most health problems, certain risk factors could increase your chances of developing gallstones. You may be more likely to experience gallstones during your lifetime if:
  • You have a family history of gallstones or gallbladder problems
  • You are obese or overweight
  • You have a low-fiber, high-cholesterol diet
  • You take certain medications such as birth control or hormone replacement therapy
  • You have diabetes
  • You are pregnant
  • You are over 40 years old
  • You have been diagnosed with liver disease
How is a gallbladder attack treated?

If the gallstone is passed on its own without problems then no treatment is necessary; however, sometimes medications or shockwaves are used to break up the gallstones. If you are dealing with recurring gallbladder pain, your gastroenterologist may recommend having your gallbladder removed.

If you are dealing with severe or sudden abdominal pain it’s important to seek immediate medical attention, as a gallbladder attack isn’t the only thing that can lead to sudden stomach pain. If you find yourself dealing with frequent gallbladder issues you may wish to speak with a gastroenterologist about whether to have the organ removed.

By Digestive Health Associates Endoscopy
March 30, 2022
Tags: Polyps   Colon Polyps  
Colon and Rectal PolypsHas a gastroenterologist just found colon polyps during your routine colonoscopy? If so, you may be wondering what these masses are, why they occur, and if this could put you at an increased risk for colorectal cancer. We have the answers you are looking for.

What are colon polyps?

A polyp is typically a benign growth that develops in the lining of the rectum or colon. They can vary in size and are often found in the colon. Polyps are very common in adults, particularly older adults. In fact, an average 60-year-old who doesn’t have any risk factors still has a 25 percent chance of developing polyps. While some polyps can be cancerous, most are harmless.

What can increase my risk for colon polyps?

Older age is the most common risk factor for polyps. If there is a history of colon polyps or colon cancer in your family then you may also be more likely to develop polyps. Other risk factors include,
  • Being obese or overweight
  • Having diabetes
  • Smoking or using tobacco products
  • Having inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease; ulcerative colitis)
Do polyps cause symptoms?

Most polyps do not cause any symptoms; however, if the polyp is large enough it could cause blood in the stool or rectal bleeding. Sometimes a sigmoidoscopy, which allows our GI doctor to look at the lower section of the colon, can detect the presence of a polyp. In this case, our doctor will then recommend a colonoscopy to have the polyp removed. While there are other screening tools available for detecting polyps, the most accurate tool is a colonoscopy.

How is a polyp removed?

If we find polyps during your colonoscopy we can easily remove them at the same time as your procedure. There are several ways in which your doctor can remove a polyp. The most common method is a wire loop biopsy or through a polyp resection (burning the polyp with an electrical current). Since the lining of the bowels is not sensitive, these methods will not cause discomfort. Sometimes a laboratory will examine the removed polyp to look for cancerous cells.

If you need to schedule a routine colonoscopy, or you have a family history of colon polyps and you’re concerned, call your gastroenterologist today to learn more about the preventive steps you can start taking today to protect your digestive health.