Our Gastroenterology Blog

Posts for category: Gastroenterology Conditions

By NASHVILLE GASTROINTESTINAL SPECIALISTS
October 19, 2020
Tags: Ulcer   Stomach Ulcer  
Stomach UlcerAre you dealing with a burning pain in your stomach that is accompanied by bloating, lack of appetite, and heartburn? If so, you could be dealing with a peptic ulcer. Peptic ulcers are sores that develop within the lining of the stomach, causing a wide range of painful and unpleasant symptoms. It may be time to see your gastroenterologist if you notice these telltale symptoms of a stomach ulcer:
  • A dull, aching, or burning sensation in the center of your stomach that may feel worse when empty and may be alleviated by eating or drinking
  • Feeling full easily
  • Lack of appetite
  • Acid reflux and heartburn
  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dark stools
You must see a gastroenterologist if you are dealing with any of the symptoms above. Ignoring a stomach ulcer is a bad idea, as this problem requires treatment. Leaving a stomach ulcer untreated can make the problem worse. If ulcers bleed this can have serious complications so it’s important to see a gastroenterologist as soon as possible for an evaluation.

How are stomach ulcers diagnosed?

Since the problem lies within the body, we will need to be able to conduct certain tests that will help our gastroenterologists examine the stomach to find out what’s going on. To do that, your GI doctor may recommend an endoscopy.

During an endoscopy, a thin tube is inserted into the mouth through the esophagus and into the stomach to examine the lining of the stomach to look for bleeds, ulcers, and other problems within the tissue that could be causing your symptoms.

How are stomach ulcers treated?

If your endoscopy comes back positive for stomach ulcers your gastroenterologist is most likely to prescribe antibiotics and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), a medication that blocks the stomach from producing acid (this gives the ulcers time to heal). Some patients experience almost immediate relief, but it’s important to continue taking your medication even once you start feeling better.

Your gastroenterologist may already recommend certain dietary changes that include removing foods that could exacerbate symptoms while incorporating healthy food choices such as broccoli, leafy greens, and olive oil, that could improve stomach ulcer symptoms.

Very rarely do stomach ulcers require surgery, but your gastroenterologist may recommend surgery for stomach ulcers that keep returning, don’t heal with non-surgical treatment, bleed, or cause other complications.

Persistent stomach pain and gastrointestinal distress should be properly evaluated by a gastroenterologist who specializes in diagnosing and treating infections and conditions that affect the digestive tract. If you are concerned that you might have a stomach ulcer contact your gastroenterologist today.
By NASHVILLE GASTROINTESTINAL SPECIALISTS
September 18, 2020
Tags: Abdominal Pain  
Abdominal PainEveryone experiences stomach upset from time to time; however, when abdominal pain sets in we know just how uncomfortable it can be. It’s important to know when you’re just dealing with normal aches and pains that will go away on their own or whether you may be dealing with an underlying issue that requires medical attention. In this case, trusting your gut could just be the best thing you do for your health.

What Causes Abdominal Pain

All you have to do is perform a quick Google search and you’ll realize that there are tons of infections, disorders, diseases and even injuries that can lead to stomach pain and discomfort. Since it can be difficult to figure out what’s causing persistent or recurring abdominal pain, this is where a gastroenterologist can help shed some light. Common causes of abdominal pain include,
  • Gastroenteritis (intestinal infection)
  • Indigestion
  • Gas
  • Constipation
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Food allergies
  • Food poisoning
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Diverticulitis
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Hernia
  • Gallstones
  • Appendicitis (sudden, sharp pain on the right side; requires immediate medical attention)
Your GI doctor will ask you a series of questions regarding your abdominal pain and any other symptoms you are experiencing to rule out certain conditions and to determine whether further testing is needed to make a diagnosis.

Since certain conditions such as Celiac disease or colon polyps can only be properly diagnosed through specific testing (e.g. endoscopy; colonoscopy) it’s important that you seek proper medical attention if your abdominal pain lasts for days or keeps returning.

When should I see a doctor?

It’s important to recognize when abdominal pain requires immediate or professional treatment. You should seek emergency medical care if you are experiencing symptoms of appendicitis, or if your abdominal pain is accompanied by fever, vomiting, a lack of bowel movements, yellowing skin or dehydration. While not considered an emergency, you should still call our office if your stomach is tender to the touch or if you experience abdominal pain that lasts hours.

If you find yourself dealing with recurring or regular bouts of abdominal pain, a gastroenterologist can help you find answers you’re looking for.
By NASHVILLE GASTROINTESTINAL SPECIALISTS
August 18, 2020
GallbladderChances are good that you probably never think about your gallbladder. This small organ that lies under the liver is responsible for producing and storing bile to help the liver break down high-fat foods. Of course, you may start thinking about your gallbladder if you start to notice these symptoms of a gallbladder attack:
  • Sudden, severe, and sharp abdominal pain (typically in the upper right side of the body)
  • Pain that appears after eating and lasts several hours
  • Light-colored stools
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Yellowing skin or eyes (jaundice)
You must see a doctor right away if you are experiencing gallbladder pain or any other symptoms of an attack. That’s because there are other potentially dangerous health problems such as appendicitis or a heart attack that can also mimic the pain and other symptoms associated with a gallbladder attack, and it’s important to rule out these other conditions. Plus, if the body is unable to pass the gallstones on its own this can also lead to an infection.

Am I at risk for gallstones?

Many factors can increase your risk of developing gallstones such as:
  • Diabetes
  • Family history of gallstones and gallbladder disease
  • Being over 60 years old
  • Being a woman
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Taking estrogen or hormone medications
  • Eating a diet that is low in fiber and high in cholesterol or fat
  • Being pregnant
How is a gallbladder attack treated?

It is possible to have gallstones and never experience symptoms. In this case, you probably won’t require treatment unless there is the possibility of a complication. Sometimes medications are prescribed that can help to break up the gallstones. It may be time to consider having surgery to remove your gallbladder if:
  • You’re dealing with severe cholecystitis (inflammation of the gallbladder)
  • There is an infection
  • The gallbladder doesn’t work or has stopped working
  • The gallbladder is causing significant pain and other problems
  • There is a tumor on the gallbladder
If you are dealing with gallstones or gallbladder pain and want to discuss ways to prevent these problems in the future, or whether you should have your gallbladder removed, talk with a gastroenterologist today to learn more. Your doctor can tell you the best way to treat your gallbladder symptoms or whether you may need to consider surgery.
By NASHVILLE GASTROINTESTINAL SPECIALISTS
July 20, 2020
Tags: Celiac Disease  
Celiac DiseaseNowadays, hearing the term “celiac disease” seems rather commonplace. Perhaps you even know someone who has it; however, many people assume celiac disease and gluten intolerance are the same things, but true celiac disease is much more serious. This autoimmune disorder is triggered whenever a person consumes food that contains gluten. Instead of just experiencing digestive upset (as those with gluten intolerance may), those with celiac disease incur damage to their small intestines, which in turn affects how the body absorbs nutrients.

While people can develop celiac disease at any age, it’s often hereditary (meaning that if you have a family member with this condition then you are more likely to develop the celiac disease yourself). Since this disease can lead to serious health problems such as infertility, anemia, and type 1 diabetes, it’s important to see a doctor if you suspect that you might have celiac disease.

The most common symptoms of Celiac disease involve digestive problems and may include:
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Increased gas
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Foul-smelling or pale stools (more common in children)
Along with digestive complaints, people with celiac disease (especially adults) may experience other issues that they may not even realize is caused by celiac disease. These symptoms include:
  • An itchy, widespread rash
  • Osteoporosis
  • Ulcers of the mouth
  • Joint pain
  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Numbness or tingling of the hands and feet
Diagnosing Celiac Disease
If you believe you might have celiac disease you must see a gastroenterologist right away; however, you don’t want to change up your diet before seeing a doctor, as avoiding gluten could affect your test results. Two blood tests are most often used to check your body’s immune response to gluten. If there is an indication that you could have celiac disease based on your blood test results, then your doctor may recommend an endoscopy to check the lining of the small intestines for damage.

Treating Celiac Disease
The only way to truly manage celiac disease is to stick to a gluten-free diet. This means staying vigilant when reading labels, as gluten isn’t just found in food but also medications and non-food items such as lipsticks, nutritional supplements, vitamins, over-the-counter medications, and toothpaste. If you are dealing with anemia or other nutritional deficiencies as a result of celiac your doctor may also prescribe certain medications such as iron, vitamin B12, or vitamin D.
By NASHVILLE GASTROINTESTINAL SPECIALISTS
May 15, 2020
Tags: Hemorrhoids  

HemorrhoidsIf you are experiencing rectal pain or noticing specks of blood on your toilet paper you might be dealing with hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids, also referred to as piles, are swollen veins that form either inside or outside the rectum. While hemorrhoids are more common as a person gets older, this condition can happen to anyone. Here’s what you should know about this common rectal problem and how you can treat it.

What causes hemorrhoids?

If you have family members that deal with hemorrhoids, you may be more likely to get them too. Any kind of pressure that’s placed on the rectum and impacts the flow of blood can cause these veins to swell. Pressure may be caused by:

  • Constipation and straining during bowel movements
  • Heavy lifting or intense physical activity
  • Being overweight or obese
  • A poor diet that is low in fiber
  • Pregnancy
  • Leading a sedentary lifestyle

How are hemorrhoids diagnosed?

If you’ve never had hemorrhoids before you may want to see your gastroenterologist for a diagnosis, especially if you are experiencing persistent rectal bleeding. Your doctor will go through your medical history and ask questions about your symptoms before performing an exam. A simple rectal exam is usually all that’s needed to diagnose external hemorrhoids. In order to diagnose internal hemorrhoids, you may require further testing such as a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy.

How are hemorrhoids treated?

Sometimes hemorrhoids will go away on their own, so you won’t require special care or treatment. Home remedies include:

  • Adding more fiber to your diet
  • Avoiding straining during bowel movements
  • Staying hydrated to aid in better digestion
  • Taking a Sitz bath several times a day to ease any pain and discomfort

There are also over-the-counter medications that can alleviate symptoms including pain and itching. If your symptoms persist after using these medications you should talk with your doctor. If the hemorrhoid is large or isn’t responding to other treatment options then your GI doctor may recommend surgery. There are many minimally invasive surgical techniques that can be used to get rid of hemorrhoids.

If you notice rectal pain, bleeding or discomfort that leaves you concerned or worried about your health it’s important that you talk with your gastroenterologist to find out if you need further evaluation. While hemorrhoids may clear on their own, if you don’t experience relief a doctor will be able to help.