Our Gastroenterology Blog

Posts for: February, 2018

February 16, 2018
Category: GI Care

Sometimes nothing sounds better than a generous helping of ice cream. Of course, if you are lactose intolerant this may sound like a one-way ticket to gastrointestinal distress. Lactose intolerance is an issue in which the body has trouble digesting lactose, a naturally occurring substance found within dairy products. Since the lactose isn’t fully digested before it enters the intestines, this can lead to some rather unpleasant GI tract symptoms such as,

  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal pains and cramping
  • Stomach noises
  • Diarrhea or watery stools
  • Nausea or vomiting

While noticing these symptoms only once doesn’t necessarily mean that you are lactose intolerant, if you notice these symptoms every time you consume milk, yogurt, ice cream or other dairy products then you may be suffering from lactose intolerance. Just keep in mind that lactose intolerance is not the same as a food allergy.

If you suspect that you may be lactose intolerant, it’s a good time to schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist. When you come in for a diagnostic evaluation there are several tests that may be performed to determine if your symptoms are caused by lactose intolerance. Tests include the hydrogen breath test, stool acidity test or lactose tolerance test. We will also ask specific questions regarding your symptoms.

Since there is no way to retrain your body so that it can digest lactose easily, you will have to make changes to your diet to ensure that you don’t experience these distressing symptoms. The most obvious change you can implement is to avoid milk and dairy products, particularly in large quantities. If you do want to consume dairy products do so while eating other foods, which may lessen your symptoms.

We know that giving up ice cream and dairy products can be a challenge; fortunately, there are so many different products on the market that do not contain lactose and are digestive-friendly for those with lactose intolerance. Some people also find relief in taking an over-the-counter lactase enzyme medication (e.g. Lactaid®) before consuming dairy products.

Lactose intolerance can vary from person to person. Some people only experience mild, self-limiting symptoms while others experience more severe problems. If you are experiencing intestinal issues every time you consume dairy products it’s a good time to have this problem checked out.

February 14, 2018
Category: GI Care
Tags: Fiber   Diet  

Everyone knows that it’s important to have enough fiber in your diet, but not as many people understand why and how it can benefit your health; fortunately, there are many foods that you can incorporate into your diet if you aren’t getting enough fiber on a daily basis (and don’t worry; a lot of these foods are also pretty delicious, too!).

If you want to increase your fiber intake all you have to do is add more legumes, whole grains, fruits and vegetables to your diet. Simple right? We think so, too! Fiber offers so many wonderful benefits from helping you maintain a healthy weight to reducing your risk of developing potentially serious and chronic health problems such as heart disease or diabetes. It’s even believed that consuming enough fiber could potentially reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Regardless of whether you are at risk for high cholesterol or not, making sure you get enough soluble fiber in your diet is a great way to keep cholesterol and glucose levels in a safe and healthy range. Soluble fibers include beans, citrus, barley, oats and peas.

Insoluble fibers, as you might already know, are great for your digestive tract and help improve the function of your bowels. If you are having issues with constipation then adding more insoluble fibers to your diet may help make it easier to go. Common insoluble fibers include whole-wheat flour, beans, vegetables and potatoes.

So, how much fiber should you be consuming on a daily basis? If you are a man who is 50 years or younger than you should consume about 38 grams of fiber a day, while men over 51 years old only need to consume 30 grams of fiber per day. Women under 50 years old should make sure they are getting about 25 grams of fiber every day, while women over 51 years old should consume about 21 grams.

Making sure you get enough dietary fiber in your diet is just one great way to maintain a healthy GI tract. Of course, if you have questions about your diet and how it is impacting your gastrointestinal health then it’s time you turned to a gastroenterologist who can answer all of your questions or address any symptoms or concerns you might have.

February 14, 2018
Category: GI Care
Tags: GERD   heartburn  

Whenever you eat spicy foods do you know that you’ll be suffering for it shortly after? Do you find that heartburn keeps you up at night or makes it impossible to enjoy a lot of your favorite foods? Do you suffer from heartburn symptoms more often than not? If so then you may be dealing with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a digestive disorder in which food and stomach acid travel back into the esophagus. Over time the stomach’s acidity can wear away at the lining of the esophagus and cause irritation.

Someone with GERD will not only experience heartburn on a regular basis but also may have difficulty or pain when swallowing. Since the acid continues to travel back through the esophagus this can lead to persistent or recurring sore throats, as well as a dry cough or changes in your voice (e.g. hoarseness). You may even feel some of your food (as well as the stomach acid) travel back up through your throat.

If you find yourself taking a heartburn medication more than twice a week or if your symptoms are severe then this is the perfect time to turn to a GI doctor who can find a better way to manage your symptoms. If over-the-counter remedies aren’t cutting it then a gastroenterologist will prescribe a stronger medication. Some medications work by reducing acid production while other medications prevent acid production altogether to give the esophagus time to heal.

While most people find that their GERD symptoms can be properly controlled with over-the-counter or prescription medications, there are some people who still don’t find the relief they want or those who don’t want to use medications for the rest of their lives. If this is the case, there are also certain surgical procedures that can be recommended to help improve how the lower esophageal sphincter functions to prevent food and stomach acid from flowing back into the esophagus.

Of course, there are some simple lifestyle modifications that can also help. Besides maintaining a healthy weight, it’s important to avoid certain foods that can trigger your symptoms (e.g. caffeine; alcohol; chocolate). When you do eat try to eat smaller meals and avoid eating right before bedtime. If you are a smoker, you will want to strongly consider quitting.

If you have questions about GERD and managing your heartburn symptoms then it’s time you turned to a gastroenterologist who can diagnose you with this digestive disease and then create a tailored treatment plan to help make mealtimes less painful.