Posts for category: Gastroenterology Conditions
Hepatitis is a condition that causes inflammation of the liver. A viral infection is typically to blame for most types of hepatitis; however, autoimmune problems or heavy alcohol use can also lead to hepatitis.
- Hepatitis A is acute
- Hepatitis B, C, and D are often persistent and chronic
- Hepatitis E is typically acute
Hepatitis is contracted in several ways including,
- Hepatitis A is transmitted through contaminated water or food
- Hepatitis B is often transmitted through bodily fluids including blood and semen
- Hepatitis C is transmitted through sexual contact, coming in contact with infected bodily fluids, or through IV drug use
- Hepatitis D is transmitted through contact with infected blood (typically occurs in conjunction with hepatitis B)
- Hepatitis E is transmitted through contaminated water
As many as half of people with hepatitis don’t even know that they have it. Some of the signs and symptoms include,
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Joint pain
- Dark urine
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
- Pale-colored stools
Again, the type of hepatitis you have will determine how to best treat it. Acute viral forms of hepatitis such as hepatitis A will go away on their own, so treatment options may be geared toward easing your symptoms and making sure that you get enough rest. Those with more chronic forms will need ongoing management and treatment from a gastroenterologist. Your GI doctor may prescribe antiviral medications to prevent or at least slow liver damage for those with chronic hepatitis such as hepatitis B. Some patients may even require surgery.
Some women with rectocele don’t even know that they have it until their OBGYN discovers it during a routine wellness exam; however, if the bulging tissue is rather large then symptoms may appear. Signs of rectocele include,
- Trouble with completing full bowel movements
- Needing to apply pressure to the vagina or the rectovaginal septum to complete a bowel movement
- Straining during a bowel movement
- Frequent urges to have a bowel movement throughout the day
- Rectal pain
If you aren’t experiencing any symptoms, then your gastroenterologist may not recommend treatment since your daily routine isn’t being impacted; however, if you are experiencing symptoms, the first course of action will be to improve bowel movements and to make them easier and less uncomfortable. Nonsurgical treatment options are usually enough to resolve any issues associated with a rectocele.
- Staying hydrated
- Eating a high-fiber diet
- Performing pelvic floor exercises
- Biofeedback to improve pelvic floor muscle function
- Using stool softeners
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)
- Liquid draining from the anus
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.
What are the signs of gallstones?
Some people have gallstones but don’t even know it; however, the most common symptoms associated with gallstones are indigestion, nausea, and vomiting. If you have a gallbladder attack, you may experience pain in the upper right or middle of your abdomen below the rib cage. This pain can last for several hours and may be severe.
What are some risk factors for gallstones?
While we still don’t know the exact cause of gallstones, certain risk factors can increase the likelihood of dealing with gallstones at some point during your lifetime. Apart from being a woman, here are some other risk factors,
- Being over age 40
- Being obese
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Sedentary lifestyle
- A poor diet that is high in fat
- Being diabetic
- Being pregnant
- High cholesterol
- Family history of gallstones
While we can’t guarantee that you’ll never have gallstones again, making certain lifestyle changes have proven effective for reducing or getting rid of a gallbladder attack. Talk with your gastroenterologist about ways to improve your lifestyle (e.g. losing excess weight; eating a healthier diet; avoiding alcohol) to lower your risk for gallstones.
If you aren’t experiencing any symptoms, then you probably won’t require treatment; however, if you continue to have gallbladder attacks you may want to talk with your gastroenterologist about having your gallbladder removed. Your gallbladder can be removed without it affecting your health or quality of life.
If you would like to avoid surgery your gastroenterologist may recommend a certain medication that can help to break up these stones. This medication can also prevent new gallstones from forming. Sometimes this medication is used along with a soundwave procedure known as lithotripsy, which helps to breakdown gallstones so that they can pass more easily.
If you are experiencing symptoms of gallstones or signs of a dysfunctional gallbladder, you must have a gastroenterologist that you can turn to for immediate care. A gastroenterologist will easily be able to determine what’s causing your digestive issues and provide you with an effective solution.
- Passing hard stools or straining during a bowel movement
- Persistent or recurring diarrhea
- Anal intercourse
- Crohn’s disease
You may be dealing with an anal fissure if you notice pain with a bowel movement. The pain can be quite sharp and intense, and you may even experience burning or pain for hours after. Other symptoms include anal itching and drops of blood when wiping (typically bright red blood). If you notice black or dark stools, this is a sign of internal bleeding and it’s important to see a gastroenterologist right away.
Most fissures will heal on their own with proper care. There are things you can do to help promote healing. These include,
- Staying hydrated and drinking lots of fluids
- Getting daily exercise
- Consuming a high-fiber diet
- Avoiding straining with a bowel moment
- Go to the bathroom when you need to (do not hold it in)
- Relax in a Sitz bath
- Use baby wipes rather than toilet paper (which may be too dry and rough) after a bowel movement
- Sometimes, stool softeners and fiber supplements can be helpful
What are the signs of a C. diff infection?
Again, it is possible to have this infection and not have symptoms; however, some people with C. diff experience:
- Stomach cramping or pain
- Weight loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
What are the risk factors for C. diff?
Certain factors can increase your risk for C. diff. While anyone can develop this infection it’s more common in those over 65 years old, those with weakened immune systems, patients with intestinal diseases (e.g. inflammatory bowel disease), and those who work in hospital settings. If you’ve had C. diff in the past, you’re also more likely to get it again.
How is C. diff contracted?
This infection can spread from person to person or from touching contaminated surfaces or objects. This is why it’s important to properly sanitize all surfaces both at home and at work. Also, practice good hygiene and wash clothes in hot water.
How is C. diff treated?
Antibiotics are the standard way to treat a C. diff infection; however, in more severe cases (when people are experiencing complications such as organ failure) surgery may be necessary to remove parts of the colon. Since this type of infection can come back, you must talk to your gastroenterologist about ways to prevent another infection in the future.
If you are dealing with chronic diarrhea, abdominal pain, or other digestive problems, you must see a gastroenterologist who can figure out what’s going on and provide you with the treatment you need to feel better quickly.
- 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
- Dark stools
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.
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)
- Menstrual cramps
- Food allergies
- Food poisoning
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Crohn’s disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Appendicitis (sudden, sharp pain on the right side; requires immediate medical attention)
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.
- 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
- Yellowing skin or eyes (jaundice)
Am I at risk for gallstones?
Many factors can increase your risk of developing gallstones such as:
- 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
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
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
- Increased gas
- Nausea and vomiting
- Foul-smelling or pale stools (more common in children)
- An itchy, widespread rash
- Ulcers of the mouth
- Joint pain
- Iron deficiency anemia
- Headaches or migraines
- Numbness or tingling of the hands and feet
Treating Celiac Disease
If 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
- 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.