Our Gastroenterology Blog

Posts for: June, 2022

By NASHVILLE GASTROINTESTINAL SPECIALISTS
June 27, 2022

Is your body telling you that you could have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

Are you just experiencing symptoms of an upset stomach, or is there something more going on? It can sometimes be hard to tell, and some people find it embarrassing to talk about, but if you want to find out if your symptoms could be due to IBS, it’s time you turn to a gastroenterologist for care.

What is IBS?

While there is so much about IBS that is still unknown, there are several theories about what causes these symptoms. People with IBS may,

  • Have more sensitive colons
  • Have a different immune system response
  • Experience hormonal fluctuations or changes that trigger IBS
  • Produce serotonin that affects digestive tract nerves, causing diarrhea or constipation

While we may not know what causes IBS, we know that it is a true medical condition.

What are the symptoms associated with IBS?

To diagnose someone with IBS, an individual must experience ongoing symptoms for at least six months. One of the most common symptoms of IBS is abdominal pain. Of course, to be able to diagnose your symptoms as IBS, the abdominal pain has to have at least two out of these three factors:

  • Passing stool relieves symptoms
  • Your symptoms affect the frequency of passing stool
  • Your symptoms affect the appearance of stool

There are quite a few things that can cause IBS to flare up. Common foods that cause flare-ups include high-fiber foods, chocolate, alcohol, fructose and caffeine.

How does a gastroenterologist treat IBS?

There are several different kinds of medications that we might recommend, including antispasmodic, antidiarrheal and even antidepressants.

We will also discuss the many lifestyle changes you should adopt to reduce flare-ups. Common lifestyle changes include,

  • Maintaining regular exercise to improve the function of the bowels
  • Quitting smoking
  • Avoiding trigger foods
  • Reducing or limiting alcohol consumption
  • Finding ways to manage stress (e.g., mindfulness; yoga; meditation)

If you are dealing with persistent abdominal pain and bowel changes, it’s important that you find out what’s going on to get the answers and treatments you need to improve your digestive health.


By NASHVILLE GASTROINTESTINAL SPECIALISTS
June 09, 2022
Tags: Acid Reflux  

Learn more about acid reflux, its signs and triggers, and when to see a doctor.

Acid reflux happens to everyone, but what should you do if this becomes a common occurrence? You may be wondering what in your diet is triggering acid reflux, and you may want to sit down with a gastroenterologist who can help you figure out why you’re experiencing frequent bouts of acid reflux. It’s important that you don’t just ignore this problem.

What is acid reflux?

Acid reflux occurs when acid from the stomach travels back up through the esophagus. While the esophageal sphincter is supposed to prevent food from traveling backward if the sphincter doesn’t function properly, acid reflux often occurs. As a result, acid reflux often causes heartburn and burning in your chest and throat. While acid reflux and heartburn are often used interchangeably, acid reflux and heartburn are different.

What triggers acid reflux?

The most common acid reflux triggers include,

  • Eating a heavy meal, especially right before bed
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Spicy, fatty, and acidic foods
  • Certain medications such as over-the-counter pain relievers

Why acid reflux is a cause for concern?

While acid reflux on its own isn’t usually anything concerning, if you are experiencing acid reflux at least two or more times a week, it’s important that you seek care from a qualified gastroenterologist. Frequent or recurring acid reflux can signify gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). If left untreated or improperly treated, this chronic condition can lead to severe complications, including esophageal cancer and swallowing disorders.

Over-the-counter antacids aren’t enough; you’ll need to turn to a gastroenterologist who can prescribe the proper medication or procedure to correct weak or damaged sphincter muscles.

How is acid reflux managed?

Lifestyle changes such as avoiding trigger foods and eating smaller meals can undoubtedly go a long way to improving symptoms. Patients who are overweight or obese will also find that symptoms improve by losing some weight. Your gastroenterologist may recommend a lower-acid diet while also prescribing an acid blocker. Surgery to repair the sphincter muscle may be advised in more severe cases.

Is acid reflux impacting your diet and affecting your quality of life? If you love eating out or cooking, you may find that acid reflux is cramping your style. This is a sign that you could benefit from turning to a gastroenterologist.