Posts for category: Gastroenterology

By Mid-Valley Gastroenterology
July 31, 2019
Category: Gastroenterology
Tags: Hepatitis B  

Dealing With Hepatitis B

Have you been diagnosed with Hepatitis B? Hepatitis B is an infection of the liver that is caused by the hepatitis B virus. The virus is passed from person to person through semen, blood, or other body fluids. There is no cure for acute hepatitis B. There are many things patients can do to improve their health and protect their liver. The following tips will help you get started on the path toward improved health and well-being.

1. See your healthcare provider regularly. Schedule regular visits with your doctor to stay on top of your health and the health of your liver. People with Hepatitis B can live full lives by taking good care of themselves and getting regular checkups. Getting checkups is an important part of staying healthy.

2. Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages. Avoid drinking alcohol if you have Hepatitis B. Most people know that the liver acts as a filter and can be damaged by drinking too much alcohol. Studies show that alcohol increases HBV replication, promotes damage to the liver and increases the likelihood of developing cirrhosis.

3. Talk to your doctor before taking OTC drugs. Check with your doctor about any OTC drugs or non-hepatitis B prescription medications before taking them to make sure they're safe for your liver. Talk to your doctor before taking any vitamins, supplements, or herbal remedies because they could interfere with your prescribed medications or even damage your liver.

4. Avoid breathing in fumes to protect your liver. Avoid inhaling fumes from paint, household cleaning products, glue, nail polish removers, and other potentially toxic chemicals that could damage your liver. Make certain you have good ventilation, cover your skin, use a mask, and wash off any chemicals you get on your skin with water and soap as soon as possible.

5. Eat a healthy diet to protect your liver. Eat a balanced, healthy diet of fruits, whole grains, lean meats, fish, and vegetables. Try to avoid saturated and trans fats. Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli have been shown to help protect the liver against environmental chemicals.

6. Talk to your doctor about medication. Your doctor may recommend antiviral medications to treat Hepatitis B. Antiviral drugs can help fight the virus and slow its ability to damage your liver. Antiviral drugs approved for treatment of chronic hepatitis B include lamivudine, adefovir, telbivudine, entecavir, and tenofovir. These drugs are taken by mouth. Talk to your healthcare provider about which medication might be right for you.

7. In severe cases, a hospital stay is needed. In some cases, an acute hepatitis B infection can be very severe. For acute Hepatitis B, medical professionals usually recommend rest, fluids, adequate nutrition, and close medical monitoring. Severe symptoms may require hospital treatment. A very small number of patients with acute hepatitis B infection will develop liver failure. They will require a liver transplant to prevent death.

8. Talk to your doctor about interferon injections. Interferon injections. Interferon alpha-2b is the form of the drug that works against chronic hepatitis B infection. It's used mainly for young patients affected by chronic hepatitis B or women who want to get pregnant within a few years. Interferon should not be used during pregnancy.

If you think you might have hepatitis B, don't worry, help is available. Search for a gasterontologist in your area and schedule a consultation. Hepatitis B treatment has improved the lives of many people. And it will do the same for you!

By Mid-Valley Gastroenterology
June 28, 2019
Category: Gastroenterology
Tags: Hemorrhoids  

While an embarrassing condition, hemorrhoids are rather common and will happen to the majority of us at some point during our lifetime. This condition occurs when the veins around the rectum or anus swell. Even though this problem is harmless it can be painful. There are many reasons why someone may deal with hemorrhoids. Those who lead a sedentary lifestyle are more likely to develop hemorrhoids. Those who are obese or deal with constipation regularly, as well as pregnant women are also prone to hemorrhoids.

Hemorrhoids can either develop inside the rectum (internal) or around the anus (external). You may be dealing with hemorrhoids if you experience:

  • Bright red blood during bowel movements
  • Anal itching and soreness
  • Pain and swelling around the anus
  • A tender lump around the anus

Sometimes hemorrhoids will go away on their own; however, it’s important to know when to see a gastroenterologist for treatment. After all, some of these symptoms could also be caused by other conditions. If you are dealing with rectal bleeding or pain it’s a good idea to see a GI doctor who will be able to perform the proper tests to confirm whether you have hemorrhoids and to rule out any other intestinal problems.

One way to prevent hemorrhoids is to prevent straining during bowel movements and constipation. In order to do this you must staying hydrated and eat a healthy, high-fiber diet. Staying active and losing excess weight can also improve gut health. If you sit for the majority of the day it’s important to get up and move around to take pressure off the veins of the anus.

In terms of treatment, the goal is to reduce pain, inflammation and irritation so the area can properly heal. This involves eating a high-fiber diet. You can also use an over-the-counter hemorrhoid cream, which can numb the area and reduce discomfort. Soaking for 10-15 minutes in a sitz bath can also ease symptoms. With the proper treatment and care hemorrhoids will often go away in about a week. If you don’t experience relief, or if your symptoms are severe then it’s time to see a gastroenterologist.

In some cases, surgery is necessary in order to treat complications (e.g. blood clots) of hemorrhoids or to properly address bleeding, painful, or persistent hemorrhoids. A gastroenterologist can perform these simple outpatient procedures right in their office.

If you are experiencing symptoms of hemorrhoids and not experiencing relief from over-the-counter medications and at-home care then it’s time to see a GI doctor for treatment.

By Mid-Valley Gastroenterology
April 05, 2019
Category: Gastroenterology
Tags: Diverticulitis  

Diverticulitis is a condition in which small pouches or sacs called diverticula form in the large intestine, or colon, and become inflamed. When the sacs are inflamed, they can bulge outward and cause abdominal pain and discomfort. In addition to abdominal pain, several other symptoms can be associated with diverticulitis. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms associated with this condition, see a gastroenterologist for a diagnosis and possible treatment options.

Symptoms & Causes

The exact cause of diverticulitis is unclear. However, there seems to be a link between a diet too low in fiber and the development of diverticulitis. When fiber is lacking in the diet, the colon works harder to move stools through the intestinal tract. It is possible that the pressure from the increased effort to move the stool can lead to the formation of diverticula along the interior of the color or large intestine. Maintaining a diet with sufficient fiber intake can potentially help prevent diverticulitis.

Various symptoms can be associated with diverticulitis. Abdominal pain is a common symptom and tends to be felt primarily on the left side. Other symptoms associated with diverticulitis include:

  • fever
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • chills
  • abdominal pain
  • cramping
  • constipation
  • bloating

Treatment

A variety of options are available for treating diverticulitis. For less severe cases, a combination of antibiotics, pain relievers and a liquid diet can be sufficient to resolve the diverticulitis. More serious cases of diverticulitis in which patients cannot drink liquids can require a hospital stay. While in the hospital, all nutrition will be obtained intravenously. Avoiding eating and drinking by mouth gives the bowel time to rest and recover and can help clear up the diverticulitis. If the condition is still severe, surgery might be required.

Diverticulitis can result in a lot of pain and discomfort. Fortunately, there are treatments that can provide relief. See a gastroenterologist for diagnosis and a treatment plan.

By Mid-Valley Gastroenterology
March 05, 2019
Category: Gastroenterology
Tags: Polyps  

A polyp: you may have heard of this condition, but remain unsure on what exactly it is. Most commonly developed in the colon, polyps are small clumps of cells that grow inside various parts of the body. Although some polyps are benign, others can develop into cancer, making it crucial that you receive periodic colonoscopies from your gastroloenterologist. Read on to learn more about colon polyps, and if you are in need of a colonoscopy, make sure to call your local gastroenterologist to make an appointment!

What exactly are colon polyps?

As mentioned above, polyps are small clumps of cells that generally develop in the nasal passage, uterine lining, vocals cords, stomach lining, and most commonly in the colon lining. Projected to develop in fifty percent of the population over time, colon polyps come in two distinct categories:

  • Hyperplastic Polyps: Definitively noncancerous, these benign cell clumps are small and grow near the end of the colon
  • Adenomatous Polyps: This polyp variety affects more people than its counterpart, and carries the possibility of becoming cancerous, although this development usually takes years to occur.

Although colon polyps generally do not show any immediate symptoms, some warning signs certainly do spring up over time. These signs include:

  • Rectal bleeding
  • Abnormal stool color
  • Shifts in bowel habits
  • Abdominal pain

How can I stay healthy?

Given that polyps usually do not exhibit any symptoms until late into their development, the best course of defense against this potentially deadly condition is to receive regular colonoscopies once you reach the age of 50.

A colonoscopy is a minor procedure in which a small, camera-equipped tool is inserted into the anus so that a doctor may examine the colon. If any polyps are discovered, the doctor can then remove them and send a sample to the lab for a biopsy. In the event that the sample tests positive for cancer, your doctor can discuss any further steps that need to be taken.

Concerned? Give us a call!

If you are in need of a colonoscopy, be sure to give your local gastroenterologist a call and receive the treatment that you need!

By Mid-Valley Gastroenterology
February 01, 2019
Category: Gastroenterology

If you’ve been dealing with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and you have either been ignoring your symptoms or haven’t been able to get them under control then you could end up dealing with Barrett’s esophagus, a serious complication of GERD that causes the lining of the esophagus to mimic the lining of the intestines.

There are no unique symptoms associated with Barrett’s esophagus, as many of the symptoms are the same as they are for GERD; however, a reason that patients shouldn’t ignore symptoms of GERD is that Barrett’s esophagus can increase the likelihood of developing an extremely serious and life-threatening cancer of the esophagus.

Symptoms to be on the look out for include:

  • Heartburn
  • A burning sensation in the back of the throat
  • Persistent cough
  • Laryngitis
  • Nausea

Even though Barrett’s esophagus is not a common complication of acid reflux, if someone experiences persistent acid reflux this can alter the cells within the esophagus over time to resemble the cells found in the lining of the intestines.

You may be screened with Barrett’s esophagus if you have some of these risk factors:

  • Male
  • Over 50 years old
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Chronic GERD
  • Obesity or being overweight

A gastroenterologist will guide a small flexible tube, known as an endoscope, into the throat and down into the esophagus. This is performed under light sedation. At the end of the endoscope is a camera that allows a gastroenterology doctor to take a biopsy of the lining of the esophagus.

The biopsy sample will be tested for cancer or any precancerous cells. If Barrett’s esophagus is detected in the sample, further endoscopies may be required in the future to detect early warning signs of cancer.

Treating Barrett’s Esophagus

While this condition cannot be reversed there are ways to at least slow down or even prevent the condition from getting worse by getting your acid reflux under control. This can be done through a variety of lifestyle changes (e.g. quitting smoking; changing diet; losing weight) and either over-the-counter or prescription medications (e.g. H2 blockers; proton pump inhibitors).

If you are dealing with acid reflux a few times a week then it’s time to turn to a gastroenterologist for more information. By getting your GERD under control as soon as possible you could prevent complications such as Barrett’s esophagus. Call your gastroenterologist today.

By Mid-Valley Gastroenterology
December 31, 2018
Category: Gastroenterology

Though many people never know they have one due to lack of symptoms, a hiatal hernia can cause complications which can affect your daily life. Knowing the signs and symptoms of this condition can help you spot its presence, alert your gastroenterologist, and get the treatment you need.

What is a hiatal hernia?
Your chest and abdomen are separated by a large muscle called the diaphragm. The esophagus passes through a small opening in the diaphragm and brings food from the mouth, down the throat, and into the stomach. A hiatal hernia occurs when the stomach pushes through the hole and begins bulging out of the other side, into the chest. Though small hiatal hernias are often nothing to worry about and do not produce symptoms, larger hernias may cause potentially serious complications.

Do I have a hiatal hernia?
A small hernia often does not produce any symptoms at all. However, larger hernias can cause some issues that can affect your day-to-day life:

  • Heartburn
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Chest or abdominal pain
  • Regurgitation of foods (into the mouth)
  • Acid reflux
  • Vomiting blood or passing black stool
  • Shortness of breath

If you think you have a hiatal hernia, you should see your doctor to ensure that you receive the care you need.

How does a gastroenterologist diagnose a hiatal hernia?
It is not uncommon for a gastroenterologist to find a hernia while investigating the cause of heartburn, abdominal pain, or other symptoms. Some diagnostic tools they may use include x-rays or upper endoscopy. They will also gather your medical, family, and lifestyle history to further investigate the cause of your symptoms.

Hiatal Hernia Treatments
If a person with a hernia does not experience any symptoms or complications, they may not need any treatment at all. However, if the patient begins experiencing discomfort, their doctor will probably suggest beginning treatment for their condition. Medications, such as antacids or medication to reduce the body’s acid production, can help with symptoms of a hernia. In more severe cases, a surgical procedure to repair a hernia or make the hole in the diaphragm smaller may become necessary.

Your gastroenterologist can help you find the best treatment plan for you. If you think you have a hernia or are experiencing uncomfortable symptoms such as recurrent acid reflux or heartburn, you should speak with your doctor.

By Mid-Valley Gastroenterology
December 06, 2018
Category: Gastroenterology
Tags: Heartburn  

Got heartburn? Heartburn, also known as acid indigestion, is a form of indigestion felt as a burning pain in the chest. It's caused when stomach acid flows up into your esophagus. More than just a minor discomfort, acid indigestion can reduce quality of life. The following tips will help you rid yourself of heartburn.

1. Change your diet. Stay away from beverages and foods that commonly cause heartburn. A good way to work out what beverages and foods trigger your heartburn symptoms is to keep track of what you eat. Common offenders include tea, coffee, tomatoes, garlic, fatty foods, spicy foods, milk, chocolate and peppermint. 

2. Don't overeat. Overeating can trigger heartburn. Big meals put pressure on the muscle that helps keep stomach contents from backing up into the esophagus. The more food you eat, the longer it takes for your stomach to empty, which contributes to acid reflux. Try eating five small meals a day to keep reflux at bay.

3. Avoid alcohol. Alcohol can trigger heartburn. Alcohol can relax the sphincter muscle at the lower end of your esophagus, causing stomach acid to flow up into your esophagus If your aim is to unwind after a long day at work, try exercise, stretching, listening to soothing music, or deep breathing instead of drinking alcohol.

4. Lose weight. If you overeat, lose weight- but be sure to consult your doctor before starting a vigorous exercise program. The increased risk of heartburn is thought to be due to excess abdominal fat causing pressure on the stomach.

5. Stop smoking. Nicotine is a muscle relaxant. Nicotine can relax the sphincter muscle, causes acid from the stomach to leak upward into the esophagus. Nicotine gums, patches, and lozenges are healthier and safer than cigarettes, and they are less likely to give you heartburn. 

6. Contact your doctor. Your doctor may suggest antacids for occasional heartburn. Sometimes, more powerful prescription medications such as proton pump inhibitors or H2 blockers and are needed to treat chronic heartburn. When all else fails, surgery may be required to repair the LES.

Chronic heartburn can affect your daily activities and make life frustrating and miserable. Don't hesitate to contact a gastroenterologist about heartburn.

By Mid-Valley Gastroenterology
November 02, 2018
Category: Gastroenterology

Is it constipation? Is it diarrhea? Frankly, when a patient complains to his or her physician about GI problems, the doctor has to wonder, "Is it Irritable Bowel Syndrome?" If you alternate between infrequent and too frequent bowel movements, you may need evaluation by a gastroenterologist. An expert in all things from your esophagus through your stomach and intestines, a GI doctor can uncover the reasons behind bowel issues, including IBS.

About IBS and its symptoms

Unfortunately, no one knows the real origin of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. However, it definitely is a cluster of symptoms which millions of people in the US--more women than men--suffer, before the age of 50. The International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders reports that stress appears to increase symptoms; however, anxiety and a high-pressure job or life circumstance do not actually cause the condition.

Besides constipation and/or diarrhea, individuals with IBS have:

  • Bouts of gas
  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Pain
  • Cramps
  • Mucus in the stool
  • Fatigue
  • Intolerance to a variety of foods, including those containing gluten and lactose (dairy)
What you can do
 
Your primary care physician may refer you to a GI doctor for additional evaluation. This specialist will listen to your symptoms; so be sure to tell him or her what they are, when and how often they occur, how long they last and what, if anything, helps.
 
The doctor may order blood work, including a complete blood count to check for anemia, an indicator of bleeding in the GI tract. Also, he or she may wish to look into your intestine via colonoscopy. This common examination introduces a lighted, flexible tube through the entire length of the large intestine. It allows the doctor to visualize and take photos of the lining of the bowel and to biopsy areas as needed.
 
Treatments for IBS
 
If you are diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, you can manage your symptoms. No, IBS cannot be cured, but rest assured that many patients live well with this GI condition. Many gastroenterologists ask individuals to eliminate suspect foods such as:
  • Alcohol
  • Dairy products
  • Chocolate
  • Caffeinated drinks
  • High fat or fried foods
On the positive side, you may gradually increase your intake of fibrous dietary choices such as:
  • Beans
  • Legumes
  • Oats
  • Bran
  • Yams
  • Whole grains
  • Barley
The doctor may recommend easy-to-take fiber supplements such as Fibercon or Metamucil which regulate the water in the bowel and normalize stools. Probiotics--natural supplements containing beneficial bacteria and yeast--are a common part of an IBS regimen.
 
Feeling better
 
If you suspect you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or are just not sure what's going on with your digestive health, consult a board-certified gastroenterologist. This highly-skilled doctor will get to the source of your issues, answer your questions and help you function at your best.