Our Gastroenterology Blog

Posts for: February, 2021

By NASHVILLE GASTROINTESTINAL SPECIALISTS
February 22, 2021
Tags: Anal Fissure   Anal Fistula  
What Is an Anal Fistula
The inside of the anus is lined with small glands. These glands can be infected when the mucus they secrete gets blocked. This leads to an abscess. Unfortunately, if the abscess isn’t treated it can often form a fistula. A fistula is a tunnel that connects the skin around the anus with an infected gland inside the rectum. If you are dealing with pain and swelling around the anus, a fistula could be to blame. Since anal pain and swelling can be caused by a variety of things, ranging from benign to more serious, it’s a good idea to see a gastroenterologist for an evaluation.

What are the signs and symptoms of a fistula?

The most common symptoms are pain, swelling, and redness around the anus. Of course, everything from a tear in the tissue to hemorrhoids can also cause similar symptoms, so it’s not always easy to spot the difference. This is why you should always consult a gastroenterologist for a proper diagnosis.

If you have a fistula, you may also notice these symptoms,
  • Pain with bowel movements (and sometimes urination)
  • Bleeding
  • Fever
  • Liquid draining from the anus
If you are experiencing these symptoms, it’s time to see your gastroenterologist.

How is an anal fissure diagnosed?

Some anal fissures can be spotted through a simple rectal exam; however, this isn’t always the case. If so, your gastroenterologist may recommend imaging tests such as a CT scan or a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy is a diagnostic procedure that allows your doctor to examine the lining of the rectum and colon to spot bleeds, ulcers, and other problems.

How are fistulas treated?

The only way to treat a fistula is with surgery, which is typically performed in your gastroenterologist’s office. Several surgical strategies can be used, depending on whether you have a simple or more complicated fistula. Simple fistulas can be removed through excision, while complicated fistulas may require a tube to drain the fluid for several weeks. This is something that your doctor will talk with you about once you’ve come in for an evaluation.

Whether you are experiencing symptoms of a fistula or you are noticing changes in bowel habits that have you concerned, a gastroenterologist is an ideal doctor to turn to for answers. Call your gastroenterologist today to discuss your symptoms and find out if you should come into the office for care.

By NASHVILLE GASTROINTESTINAL SPECIALISTS
February 11, 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.