Posts for: August, 2021
By NASHVILLE GASTROINTESTINAL SPECIALISTS
August 25, 2021
Category: Gastroenterology Conditions
The pancreas is an organ in the digestive system that lies behind the stomach and is responsible for producing insulin, as well as a host of other digestive enzymes and hormones. The pancreas plays a key role in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels and digestion; however, if the pancreas releases these enzymes prematurely, this can irritate and inflame the pancreas, leading to a condition known as pancreatitis.
What are the signs and symptoms of pancreatitis?
Symptoms will vary depending on whether you are dealing with acute or chronic pancreatitis. If you are dealing with acute pancreatitis you are likely to experience,
- Upper abdominal pain that may radiate to the back
- Pain that gets worse after eating (especially when consuming a high-fat diet)
- Tenderness in the abdomen
- Swollen abdomen
- Increased or rapid heart rate
- Nausea and vomiting
People who experience several acute episodes of pancreatitis can develop enough damage that it becomes as serious as chronic pancreatitis. Those with chronic pancreatitis will also experience pain in the upper abdomen as well as unexpected weight loss or oily stools.
What causes pancreatitis?
There are many reasons people may develop pancreatitis. Certain risk factors include:
- Heavy alcohol use
- Abdominal injury
- Exposure to environmental toxins
- Undergoing abdominal surgery
- Family history of pancreatitis
- High cholesterol (particularly high triglycerides)
- High calcium levels (hypercalcemia)
How is pancreatitis treated?
How your gastroenterologist decides to treat your pancreatitis will depend on the severity and type of pancreatitis you are dealing with. Mild or acute forms of pancreatitis may be improved through simple dietary changes (a low-fat diet) or antibiotics and pain medications.
For severe or chronic cases of pancreatitis, patients may need to be hospitalized where they will need to undergo fasting until the inflammation goes away. Sometimes surgery is necessary to remove the gallbladder if gallstones are the cause of your inflammation. Surgery can also remove diseased regions of the pancreas.
If you are dealing with persistent or severe abdominal pain you must seek immediate medical attention even if you’re not sure if you’re dealing with pancreatitis. If you suspect that your symptoms could be due to pancreatitis, a gastroenterologist will be the best specialist to turn to for a diagnose and treatment plan.
By NASHVILLE GASTROINTESTINAL SPECIALISTS
August 06, 2021
Category: GI Care
Constipation can be both a figurative and literal pain in the butt. If you’re having trouble going, you may be looking for simple over-the-counter solutions that can help you go. Here’s what you should know about treating constipation yourself, as well as when you may want to turn to a gastroenterologist for medical attention.
When it’s Actually Constipation
Everyone’s different when it comes to how often they have a bowel movement. Some people go three times a day while others only go three times a week, and both are normal; however, if you are having less than three bowel movements a week then you are considered constipated. If stools are dry or hard to pass, these are also signs of constipation.
Don’t Immediately Reach for Laxatives
While laxatives are often the first thing people try when it comes to treating their constipation you may want to hold off on those for the time being and try these simple hacks:
- Make sure that you are staying hydrated (drinking enough water is key!)
- Get regular exercise
- Increase your fiber intake
For people dealing with mild or occasional constipation, oftentimes these simple lifestyle changes are all that’s needed.
Not all Laxatives Work the Same Way
If you’ve tried the lifestyle and dietary changes above and your bowels still aren’t moving, then you may be considering a laxative at this point. There are different types; however, it’s important to know which ones to use. Fiber supplements are often the easiest on the body (this includes products like Metamucil). Before purchasing laxatives, it’s a good idea to talk with your GI doctor about which one is right for you. Since people can become dependent on laxatives, you must speak with your gastroenterologist if you find yourself regularly dealing with constipation that can only be alleviated by using laxatives.
You May Need to See a Doctor
While there are many over-the-counter laxatives on the market that can help with occasional constipation, it’s also important to know when to see your gastroenterologist instead. You should consult with your doctor if,
- You haven’t had a bowel movement in more than three days
- You are using laxatives for a week but are still dealing with constipation
- Your constipation is accompanied by bloody stools, abdominal pain, or dizziness
- You are pregnant or breastfeeding
- You are unexpectedly and suddenly losing weight
While occasional constipation usually isn’t something to worry about, if this is something that happens to you regularly then it’s worth sitting down with a gastroenterologist for an evaluation. It could mean simply changing your lifestyle to improve your bowels or it could be a sign of a health problem that requires treatment.