Posts for category: GI Care

By Mid-Valley Gastroenterology
May 07, 2021
Category: GI Care
Tags: Colonoscopy  

Colonoscopy

Colorectal cancer is on the rise, particularly in young adults. While this is alarming, it is important to know that your gastroenterologist has an effective way to prevent and even detect colorectal cancer early on. A colonoscopy can be used as both a diagnostic tool and as a treatment for the removal of colon polyps and other issues. All people will eventually need a colonoscopy regardless of age or gender. Here are the reasons why your gastroenterologist may recommend getting a colonoscopy,

You’re Experiencing Digestive Issues

This is a common reason why a colonoscopy is performed. It’s not always possible to figure out the cause of rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, or other intestinal issues unless a GI doctor takes a look inside. If your issues can’t be diagnosed with a simple physical examination, blood test, or stool sample, then a colonoscopy is probably the best way to find out what’s going on.

You Need to Be Screened for Colorectal Cancer

If you are 50 years old or older and are at average risk for colon cancer, then your gastroenterologist will often advise you to get a colonoscopy about every 10 years to screen for cancer. Those with an increased risk of developing colon cancer may need to get screened more regularly. Risk factors for colorectal cancer include,
  • Family history of colon cancer
  • Personal history of colon polyps
  • Smoking
  • Heavy alcohol consumption
  • An unhealthy diet that is high in fat and processed foods
  • Leading an inactive lifestyle
We Need to Check for and Remove Colon Polyps

It’s necessary to remove polyps right away to reduce your chances of developing colon cancer. Colon polyps can be easily removed during a routine colonoscopy, but since it can increase your risk for colorectal cancer your gastroenterologist may recommend having a colonoscopy more regularly.

If you just turned 50 years old and it’s time to schedule your routine colonoscopy, or if you’re dealing with digestive issues, a gastroenterologist is the ideal medical specialist to turn to. Don’t wait to get the preventive care you need to protect against colorectal cancer.
By Mid-Valley Gastroenterology
March 09, 2021
Category: GI Care
Tags: Achalasia  
AchalasiaThe esophagus is a tube that directs food from the throat to the stomach. Achalasia is a rare swallowing disorder that makes it more challenging for both foods and liquids to go through the esophagus into the stomach. A healthy esophagus can contract and guide food into the stomach, but when the nerves of the esophagus become damaged this can cause the esophagus to become dilated, which means that it can
no longer contract to push food along. If you or someone you know has achalasia, a gastroenterologist can provide you with ways to manage your symptoms.

What are the symptoms and signs?

The most common signs of achalasia include,
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Regurgitation of food
  • Choking (often during regurgitation)
  • Indigestion
  • Chest discomfort, particularly after eating
If you or someone you love is having difficulty swallowing or experiencing other symptoms of achalasia you must see your gastroenterologist right away.

How is achalasia treated?

Achalasia requires treatment to prevent the condition from getting worse. As you might imagine, not being able to properly eat or drink anything can have detrimental effects on a person’s health and nutritional needs, as well as increase a person’s risk for aspirational pneumonia and lung infections (this is more common in seniors). Common treatment options include:
  1. Surgery: Traditional surgery, known as Heller myotomy, is the most common way to treat achalasia and it involves cutting the muscles of the valves that lie between the stomach and esophagus. Some patients may be candidates for laparoscopic surgery, which is a more minimally invasive technique.
  2. Balloon dilation: For patients who may not be able to undergo surgery, another way to treat achalasia is with balloon dilation, which is a non-surgical technique performed under moderate sedation where a balloon is placed into the esophagus and inflated to widen the area so food can easier go from the esophagus into the stomach.
  3. Botox: Botox may help to relax muscle spasms and to improve how food flows through the esophagus. Those patients who aren’t candidates for surgery or dilation may want to consider the benefits of Botox.
Since those with achalasia have a slightly increased risk for esophageal cancer, you must talk with your gastroenterologist about regular cancer screenings. If you or a loved one is experiencing difficulty swallowing, you must turn to a gastroenterologist who can perform the appropriate tests to find out whether a problem with the esophagus might be to blame.
By Mid-Valley Gastroenterology
February 10, 2021
Category: GI Care
Tags: Ulcerative Colitis  
Ulcerative ColitisApproximately 750,000 people in the US are living with ulcerative colitis. While relatively less common than other bowel diseases, you probably can’t go very long without seeing an ad for medications that are designed to treat symptoms of UC. Perhaps you see these ads and realize that the symptoms they are talking about are ones you experience. Could you have ulcerative colitis? Fortunately, your gastroenterologist will be able to shed light on this issue.
 
What is ulcerative colitis?

Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a chronic bowel disease that causes flare-ups of inflammation and bleeding ulcers in the colon and rectum, which can affect your ability to digest food. Ulcerative colitis is one of the two main types of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD).
 
What are the signs and symptoms of ulcerative colitis?

Are you dealing with unexplained and persistent stomach pains accompanied by diarrhea? This can be an early warning sign that UC. In the very beginning, you may notice minor symptom flare-ups that can easily be attributed to a variety of other problems. So, it isn’t always easy to spot the signs of UC right away.
 
If you’ve been dealing with diarrhea and stomach pains that come and go or that last for days on end, it’s a good idea to see a gastroenterologist.
 
If UC goes untreated or undiagnosed, you may start to notice nausea, loss of appetite, or unexpected weight loss. Ulcerative colitis also causes symptoms that affect other systems of the body besides the digestive tract. Those with ulcerative colitis may also develop,
  • Fatigue
  • Anemia
  • Fevers
  • Joint pain
  • Sores and rashes
How is ulcerative colitis treated?

While there is no cure for ulcerative colitis, your gastroenterologist can prescribe medications, therapies or surgery, and recommend lifestyle changes that can help with symptom remission and reduce the number and severity of flare-ups. Treatment plans for UC typically include,
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs such as corticosteroids
  • Immunosuppressants reduce inflammation by suppressing the immune system
  • Biologics, which also act on the immune system
  • Pain relievers
  • Dietary changes (eliminating gluten and dairy; limiting fiber intake)
  • Stress management techniques
  • Exercise
  • Supplementation (iron may be prescribed if you have anemia caused by UC)
  • Anti-diarrheal medications
  • Surgery to remove the colon and rectum (in more severe cases)
When in doubt, call a gastroenterologist. A gastroenterologist specializes in diagnosing and treating conditions that affect the gut including ulcerative colitis, and they can help you get the answers and care you need to make living with ulcerative colitis more manageable.
By Mid-Valley Gastroenterology
December 08, 2020
Category: GI Care
Tags: Hemorrhoids  
Finding Ways To Prevent HemorrhoidsProne to hemorrhoids? Here are some ways to prevent flare-ups.
 
Hemorrhoids are serious (and literal) pain in the butt. Of course, certain factors can predispose people to have hemorrhoids. If you’ve had them before chances are fairly good that you are looking for ways to make sure you never have to deal with them again. From the office of our gastroenterologists, here are some helpful tips for preventing hemorrhoids in the future.
 
Add more fiber to your diet
You might think you’re getting enough fiber in your diet, but you could be very wrong. In fact, only 1 in 20 Americans is getting the proper amount of fiber intake every day. Of course, dietary fiber isn’t just important for improving digestion, it can also help to soften stools so they are easier to pass. Fiber can also prevent constipation, which is often a cause of hemorrhoids.
 
Get Your Body Moving
Exercise provides an array of benefits, and better gut health is just one of them. Even if you aren’t prone to hemorrhoids, regular aerobic activity will increase blood flow to the intestines and stave off constipation. Just remember to wait about 1-2 hours after eating before you work out.
 
Practice Good Hygiene
How you clean down there may also affect your predisposition to hemorrhoids. Of course, you should always be practicing good personal hygiene and thoroughly cleaning after you use the bathroom. Of course, along with proper hygiene, it’s also a good idea to take a shower at least once a week in the evening right before going to bed, making sure that you are giving your backend a little extra (but gentle) cleaning.
 
Avoid Straining and Heavy Lifting
You may be surprised to discover that lifting heavy objects or straining can also put too much pressure on the anus, which can lead to hemorrhoids. While any doctor will recommend exercising for its many health benefits, you mustn’t be straining or pushing too hard.
 
Enjoy a Sitz Bath
If you do find yourself dealing with the beginnings of hemorrhoids, you may want to run a bath with Epsom salts, which can help to alleviate pain, discomfort, and inflammation. While certainly not as pleasant, a cold bath can also have positive effects, as it can both numb the area to reduce pain and also stimulate blood flow.
 
If you are dealing with painful hemorrhoids and you aren’t finding relief through home care, then it’s time to speak with a qualified gastroenterologist who can provide you with more effective strategies for soothing and easing your symptoms.
By Mid-Valley Gastroenterology
October 05, 2020
Category: GI Care
Foods That Help Combat HeartburnMost of us have dealt with a bout of heartburn before; however, there are many Americans that deal with frequent heartburn that makes it difficult to enjoy mealtimes. Whether your heartburn is the result of acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), you must see a gastroenterologist if you are experiencing heartburn multiple times a week.

If you’re dealing with heartburn, one of the first things your gastroenterologist will examine is your diet. While certain foods can exacerbate heartburn and make it worse, certain foods can improve and ease acid reflux symptoms. Some of these foods include:

Oatmeal

Foods that are high in fiber such as oatmeal aren’t just amazing for your digestive tract, they may also prevent heartburn from brewing in the first place. Plus, whole grain foods can help satiate your appetite for longer, which means that you are less likely to go for snacks and other foods that could cause a nasty bout of acid reflux. So, start your morning right with a hearty bowl of oatmeal. And perhaps you may even want to add a….

Banana

Just like vegetables, a banana is a low-acid and high alkaline fruit that is also great for the digestive tract. If you battle with heartburn, bananas can help prevent stomach acid production while also helping things run smoothly through the digestive system.

Ginger

Whether you prefer ginger sprinkled into your morning smoothie, a soothing cup of ginger tea or fresh ginger grated into your water, this magical vegetable reduces inflammation and can aid in preventing and treating heartburn as well as calm an upset stomach and ease nausea.

Leafy Greens and Veggies

Fibrous vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, potatoes, and asparagus are alkaline, which helps to keep stomach acid in check. This is also because these delicious and nutritious foods are low in sugar and fat, which means they are friends to those with heartburn.

Yogurt

We all know that yogurt has amazing probiotic properties, providing your gut with the good bacteria it needs to stay healthy and strong. Good bacteria can also improve how your immune system functions, staving off germs and infections, while also coating and easing stomach acid.

Whether you have questions about your current heartburn-friendly diet or you’re having trouble getting your acid reflux under control, a gastroenterologist will be able to provide you with proper long-term medication and lifestyle changes that can help.
By Mid-Valley Gastroenterology
July 31, 2020
Category: GI Care
Tags: Colonoscopy  
ColonoscopyPerhaps you’ve heard the news reports saying that everyone should get a colonoscopy after a certain age. Maybe you even remember when Katie Couric of the Today Show got a colonoscopy. This procedure gets a bad rap, but the benefits far outweigh the potential unpleasantness of the procedure itself or even the prep. Screening for colorectal cancer is so important for all men and women, and yet so many people still don’t see a gastroenterologist regularly for screenings. This screening, which usually takes no more than 30 minutes, could just save your life.

You may benefit from a colonoscopy if:
  • You are a man or woman over the age of 50 (those over 50 years old are at an increased risk for colorectal cancer)
  • You have a family history of colorectal cancer or colon polyps
  • You have a personal history of cancer or colon polyps
  • You’ve been diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease)
  • You are experiencing symptoms of colorectal cancer such as blood in the stool and unexpected weight loss
  • You are experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms such as rectal bleeding and abdominal pain (a colonoscopy can diagnose certain intestinal problems)
Healthy individuals at moderate risk for colorectal cancer should start getting screened by 50 years old (yes, women too!). While men are more at risk for colorectal cancer, women can also get this form of cancer and should make getting screened an important part of their preventive healthcare.

You will be placed under conscious sedation while undergoing a colonoscopy, so you will most likely not remember any part of your procedure. During the procedure, your gastroenterologist will carefully place a colonoscope, a thin tube with a camera at the end, into the rectum, and guide it into the large intestines (aka the colon). This procedure allows your doctor to be able to examine the lining of the intestines to look for polyps, bleeds, ulcers, or other issues you may be dealing with. If polyps are found, they can be removed during your colonoscopy.

While age, ethnicity, and gender can play a role in your colorectal cancer risk level, there are other factors as well; however, these factors can be altered by simply improving your lifestyle. These factors include:
  • Smoking or using tobacco products
  • Leading a sedentary lifestyle
  • Eating a poor diet that is high in processed foods
  • Heavy alcohol consumption
If the results of your colonoscopy are normal then you probably won’t need another one for about 10 years; however, those at an increased risk for colorectal cancer may want to get screened before age 50 and consider getting screened more regularly. This is something that you should discuss with your doctor.