Our Gastroenterology Blog
Posts for: July, 2022
Find out what you can do to treat your hemorrhoids.
Seeing bright red blood when you wipe may have you panicking. However, before you rush to the hospital, you should know that chances are good that these little drops of blood are simply coming from hemorrhoids. While not dangerous, it’s important to spot the signs of hemorrhoids and know when to turn to a gastroenterologist for treatment.
Signs of Hemorrhoids
Hemorrhoids are swollen or bulging veins of the anus. Symptoms of hemorrhoids are limited to the anal region and can result in pain, swelling, bleeding or itching. It’s also the common cause of rectal bleeding. Some hemorrhoids are internal and may cause aching or throbbing pain, particularly after a bowel movement, while others are external and may be large enough to prolapse.
Conservative Hemorrhoid Treatment Options
In most cases, hemorrhoids will go away on their own, and you won’t even need to come in for a visit. Many of the options for treating your hemorrhoids can be found in the comfort of your own home. A sitz bath can ease pain and discomfort without medication, and you can do this a couple of times a day, as needed.
Of course, if the pain is getting to you, there are over-the-counter creams that can at least temporarily take the pain and itching away until the problem resolves itself. We know it won’t cure hemorrhoids, but managing your symptoms is important.
What you wear is also essential. Wearing fabrics that aren’t breathable can exacerbate your condition. Opt for loose-fitted underwear with a breathable soft material that won’t rub or cause further irritation (yes, that means retiring those tight yoga pants, for now).
If your hemorrhoids are the result of constipation, then fiber is something you need to start incorporating into your diet. Everyone needs fiber, but if you don’t get enough, this can lead to a lot of GI problems, not to mention, it can lead to hemorrhoids. Up your fiber intake by incorporating more whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables into your diet.
When to See a Gastroenterologist About Your Hemorrhoids
There comes a time when you have to throw in the towel and admit that it’s time to visit a gastroenterologist. While most cases of hemorrhoids won’t need professional care, if you have been dealing with pain for more than one week, if the rectal pain you are experiencing is severe or if symptoms are getting worse, it’s time to visit a GI specialist.
A gastroenterologist can provide a simple non-surgical rubber band system to cut off blood from the hemorrhoid and kill it. No recovery process is involved and can be performed right in your GI doctor's office. It’s certainly a relief to have a non-surgical option if you deal with persistent or severe hemorrhoids.
You should turn to a gastroenterologist immediately if you notice blood when you wipe or any other signs of hemorrhoids or dealing with intense rectal pain. After all, many conditions such as fissures and anal tears share symptoms with hemorrhoids, and a GI doctor can determine what problem you’re dealing with and how to treat it best.
Wondering if you could have GERD?
Are you living with acid reflux? If you deal with this problem rather frequently, you could have a chronic condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). It’s more common than you know, and you could have it. Here’s what you should know about GERD,
What is GERD?
Every time you swallow food, your stomach produces acid to aid digestion. In a healthy gastrointestinal system, a valve in the esophagus opens to allow food and acid to pass from the esophagus to your gut. In those with GERD, the valve that allows food to pass through it may not close fully or open far too often, which can cause these acids to travel back up into the esophagus. If this happens regularly, the lining of the esophagus can become irritated and even damaged.
What Are the Symptoms?
While everyone will probably experience heartburn at some point, you will likely deal with chronic or persistent heartburn if you have GERD. Everybody is different when it comes to their symptoms. Besides heartburn and acid reflux, which are the two main symptoms of GERD, other symptoms include,
- Sore throat
- Problems swallowing
- Gum inflammation
- Throat irritation
- Chronic bad breath
- A bitter taste in the mouth
When Should I See a Gastroenterologist?
It isn’t always easy to know when to visit a gastroenterologist for an evaluation. Of course, if you’ve been dealing with heartburn that occurs twice or more during the week, if your heartburn is only getting worse, if you have trouble swallowing or if heartburn wakes you up at night, then it’s essential that you get your symptoms checked out.
How is GERD Treated?
The goal of treatment is to reduce and even eliminate your symptoms while also helping give the esophagus a chance to heal itself. There will be specific lifestyle changes you will need to make to improve your symptoms, such as,
- Avoiding or limiting spicy, fatty, fried and acidic foods
- Limiting caffeine and alcohol
- Losing weight if obesity or being overweight is a factor
- Eating smaller, more frequent meals
- Not eating about two to three hours before bed
- Not lying down immediately after eating
- Avoiding shirts or belts that are too tight or put too much pressure around the middle
Certain medications will also be prescribed to help you manage your symptoms better and to help repair the damage done to the esophagus. Surgery may be recommended if you’ve tried all other non-surgical options, but nothing has managed your GERD.
Don’t ignore your acid reflux, especially if you’re dealing with it twice a week. If so, you owe it to yourself to schedule an appointment with your gastroenterologist to find out if you could be dealing with GERD.