Posts for tag: Constipation

By Mid-Valley Gastroenterology
April 06, 2021
Category: digestive health
Tags: Constipation  
Reoccurring ConstipationSure, 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)
  • Diabetes
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Bowel obstructions
  • Stroke
  • High levels of calcium in the bloodstream (hypercalcemia)
  • Pregnancy
  • 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.
By Mid-Valley Gastroenterology
June 24, 2020
Category: Gastroenterology
Tags: Constipation  
ConstipationConstipation is the source of plenty of jokes. However, if you deal with it--even occasionally--constipation isn't funny; you just want it resolved. Your gastroenterologist helps many patients with constipation, uncovering reasons for it, and getting people the relief they need. Here's some practical help.
 
What is constipation?
In general, constipation is the inability to pass stool regularly. Often, changes in daily routine, travel, and a diet low in fiber leads to fullness and pain in the abdomen, sluggishness, super-hard stools, and even bleeding and hemorrhoids produced by straining. Experts at the Cleveland Clinic say that 2.5 million Americans annually see their primary care physicians because they are constipated.
 
What causes constipation?
Many factors play into this gastrointestinal complaint. Poor hydration and an age-related slow metabolic rate are common causes, as are:
  • Certain medications
  • Lack of exercise
  • Pregnancy
  • Excessive amounts of dairy products, including cheese and milk
  • Stress
  • Not going to the toilet frequently enough
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Abusing laxatives
Pinpointing the reasons
Your constipation may signal an underlying disease condition, and it can lead to physical issues such as rectal prolapse and hemorrhoids if left untreated. Your gastroenterologist will want to review all your symptoms; so be specific about your bowel movements, when your constipation started, and what, if anything, relieves it. He or she may run tests, such as X-rays or colonoscopy, to look for structural abnormalities or disease processes.
 
How can you deal with constipation?
John Hopkins Medicine says that most constipation responds to:
  • Changing your diet to include fiber
  • Drinking plenty of water throughout the day to soften stool
  • Staying as active as possible
  • Switching routine medications (with your doctor's approval)
  • Limited use of laxatives (enemas, glycerin suppositories, stimulant laxatives)
  • Daily fiber supplements (psyllium or bran cereals) or stool softeners
Some gastroenterologists recommend biofeedback techniques for their constipated patients. With biofeedback, the individual learns how to strengthen and to use his or her pelvic floor muscles more efficiently.
 
Manage your constipation
A healthy gut means a healthier, happier you. To learn more about constipation and other common GI problems, contact your gastroenterologist.
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.



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