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Gastroenterology Blog

Why am I constipated?: 5 Surprising Reasons

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Fri, Jan 25, 2019 @ 12:46 PM

Why am I Constipated?: 5 Surprising ReasonsFor some, a watch could be set by their bathroom habits.  With fairly reliable consistency, they know when a bowel movement can be expected each day.  For others, when and where the urge may strike is not so predictable.  Still, as long as you are having at least three bowel movements per week, there isn’t much to be concerned about.  When this number decreases, however, it’s time to take a look at some factors that may be contributing to constipation.  Here are five that you may not suspect:

 

Medications Causing Constipation

Not many people take the time to read the lengthy list of potential side effects associated with a medication, but constipation is commonly included.  There are many medications, both prescription and over-the-counter which may disrupt normal bowel movements.  Among the most notable are drugs used to treat depression, anxiety, heartburn, and blood pressure.  

Ignoring the Urge for Bowel Movements

When the urge to go does strike, it may not always be at the most opportune time or place.  Holding it in every now and then is fine, but ignoring this urge frequently can lead to some intended consequences.  Habitually disregarding the need for a bowel movement can lead to loss of muscle sensation over time, diminishing the ability to identify when it is time to go and leading to less frequent bathroom visits.  Additionally, the longer stool remains in the colon, the more water it loses and the harder it becomes to pass.

Overuse of Laxatives and Constipation

When it’s time to use the restroom, nerve cells release chemicals into the colon signaling the urge to go.  However, when things haven’t been moving along as one would like, it isn’t an uncommon practice to reach for the laxatives.  These pills trigger this chemical release and get things going.  However, there is definitely too much of a good thing.  Overusing laxatives can eventually diminish their effectiveness and the body’s ability to release the stimulating chemicals.  This can lead to even greater problems with constipation, as well as make ordinary solutions (like laxatives) less reliable.

Exercise and Constipation

Exercise is an important component of a healthy lifestyle, and not getting enough of it can lead to some health concerns both serious and minor.  One potential complication of not getting enough physical activity is a reduction in the frequency of bowel movements.  Exercise stimulates bowel movements, and moves that focus specifically on the abdominals can be particularly helpful.  To ensure that you can take full advantage of the digestive benefits of exercise, be sure to adequately hydrate before, during, and after your workout.

Changes in Routine and Bowel Habits

Vacation / travel constipation is a very real phenomenon.  Your body is familiar with your normal routine, but when you travel, there can be many changes to the normal schedule.  You may spend long periods of time in a car or on a plane with limited bathroom access, and your sleep cycles can be completely different.  Coupled with the stress that may come with travel and being away from home, this can all add up to digestive difficulties.  Sidestep the problem by being mindful of the upcoming changes and combat them with probiotics, plenty of fluids, and frequent breaks when sitting for extended periods of time.

Constipation is not an uncommon problem, but it is a problem with many potential causes.  In many cases, the situation will resolve on its own.  However, if you suffer from frequent bouts of constipation or have been experiencing the symptoms of constipation for more than two weeks, it is time to see a doctor.  Start by scheduling an appointment with a Baton Rouge gastroenterologist to discuss your concerns and get your digestive health back on track.

Topics: Constipation

Gastroenteritis: Treating and Preventing a Common Stomach Bug

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Fri, Dec 28, 2018 @ 1:12 PM

stomach bug baton rougeStomach Flu. Stomach Bug. Stomach Virus.  All of these are common day names for gastroenteritis.  It certainly seems that Baton Rouge daycares, schools, workplaces, and other close-contact group environments have been seeing a lot of this going around over the past few weeks.

Gastroenteritis is an intestinal infection, typically having a sudden onset, with the most common symptoms being watery diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, body aches, and sometimes fever.  The illness is spread through contact with an infected person, by sharing towels, utensils, or other close contact situations, or by consuming contaminated food or water. 

Gastroenteritis From Viruses

Gastroenteritis can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites. The two most common viruses that cause gastroenteritis are:

  • Noroviruses. Norovirus is the most common cause of food-borne gastroenteritis worldwide.  It affects children and adults alike, as it is most often caused from consumption of contaminated food or water, but can also develop from coming into contact with others infected in the community (schools, daycares, colleges, offices) and touching infected surfaces.  An individual can get gastroenteritis numerous times in their lives from Norovirus, because there are many strains.  Most people with Norovirus begin to feel better in 1-3 days but remain contagious for approximately 3 days after symptoms subside.
  • Rotavirus. Children are typically the most affected by the Rotavirus bug, because they frequently put their unwashed hands to their mouths after touching a contaminated object.  Adults may have this virus without any symptoms and still be carriers of the virus.  Infants and young children are primarily affected and may develop severe symptoms.  The virus usually lies dormant for the first 1-2 days and symptoms can last from 3-8 days.  There is a vaccine for that protects against rotavirus but it doesn’t protect against all strains so a vaccinated individual may still get rotaviral gastroenteritis.

Gastroenteritis From Bacteria

Bacteria can also be the culprit of gastroenteritis and common causes are E. coli, shigella, and Salmonella.  These bacteria can enter into a person’s system from raw or contaminated foods, undercooked foods, improperly cleaned food preparation areas and utensils, and some seafood.  These bacteria can be spread by infected food handlers as well.

Gastroenteritis From Parasites

Parasites and protozoa, such as Giardia and cryptosporidium, can be causes of gastroenteritis as well. These bugs live in the intestines of infected animals and spread when unclean water is consumed.  Chemical toxins can also cause gastroenterological distress, possibly by seafood consumption or heavy metals in drinking water.

Who’s at Risk for Gastroenteritis?

Gastroenteritis can be very difficult to bear and does not discriminate on who, when, or where it shows up.  There are several groups of individuals who may be more susceptible to contracting gastroenteritis and to experiencing the extreme end of the symptoms.

  • Young children and infants:  This group is often in close group settings and if the virus or bacteria introduces into the group, it is extremely likely to spread among the individuals.  Because their immune systems aren’t fully developed, they can experience more severe symptoms and should see a doctor if they seem dehydrated, lethargic, in a lot of pain, has bloody diarrhea, and/or has a fever of 102.  Infants should be closely monitored and brought in immediately if they have a sunken fontanel, have been vomiting for several hours, have bloody stools, have a dry mouth or cry without tears (a sign of dehydration), or are unusually sleepy or unresponsive.

 

  • Older Adults/Elderly:   As we age, our immune systems tend to become less efficient, and thus, older adults are much more susceptible to the causes of gastroenteritis.  Older individuals that reside in nursing or retirement homes are particularly vulnerable to these “bugs” because they are in such close contact with other individuals who may be infected with or carrying the viruses.

 

  • Individuals with Weakened Immune Systems:  People who are undergoing chemotherapy, who are living with HIV/AIDS, or who have other medical issues are particularly at risk for contracting these viruses because their immune systems simply do not have the ability to effectively ward off the onset of symptoms.  The effects of gastroenteritis can be much more severe as well for these high-risk patients.

 

The real danger of gastroenteritis lies in dehydration of an individual.  The loss of fluids and electrolytes, salts, and minerals poses a problem if an individual cannot replenish their fluid levels.  Severe dehydration can result in the need for hospitalization and IV fluids to restore balance.

Treatment of Gastroenteritis

Self-treatment and care of one’s self is typical protocol for treatment of gastroenteritis, unless complications arise.  Rest, let your stomach settle by abstaining from food for a few hours, and try to drink clear fluids or eat ice chips in the earliest stage of gastroenteritis.  Once an individual is ready to try eating again, it’s best to stick to a bland, easy to digest diet, often referred to as a BRATs diets (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast).  Other simple foods that help ease the transition back to eating are gelatin, crackers, chicken, and light soups or broths.  Avoiding dairy products, nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, high fat foods, or extremely salty foods are a general recommendation for people dealing with gastroenteritis.  Medications, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, can upset the stomach as well and should be avoided if possible. 

Children should be given oral rehydration solutions, such as Pedialyte, in order to help their systems re-regulate. The World Health Organization recommends an Oral Rehydrating Solution (ORS) of 1 quart water with 2 tbsp sugar and 0.5 tsp salt. Apple juice should be avoided, as it can worsen diarrhea. Infants with gastroenteritis should have their stomach “rest” after bouts of vomiting or diarrhea and they should be offered breast milk, if breastfed or formula with oral rehydrating solution or water mixed in.  Formula should be mixed as usual and not be diluted.

A simple stomach virus should resolve in 1-2 days.  If it persists, it could be an infection that needs to be treated.  If gastroenteritis has become a chronic problem, it will need further evaluation.

Preventing Gastroenteritis

Primary measures of prevention come from inhibiting the spread of the germs- hand washing, not sharing personal items (eating utensils, towels, etc), disinfecting hard surfaces, and avoiding contact with infected individuals.  Vaccinations for children in their first year of life for the rotavirus strain of gastroenteritis can help to reduce instances for this vulnerable and commonly affected group of young individuals.

If you are suffering from symptoms of gastroenteritis in Baton Rouge, a gastroenterologist can help.  Contact Gastroenterology Associates, and request an appointment with any one of our many qualified physicians.

Why should I visit a gastroenterologist

  Disclaimer: All information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not replace the consultative advice and experienced feedback from your physician.    Always consult with your physicians on any of your questions and concerns.

Topics: Gastroenterologists, Common Stomach Problems

Peptic Ulcers: Types & Causes

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Wed, Dec 19, 2018 @ 3:51 PM

peptic ulcers baton rougePeptic ulcers are sores in the esophagus, stomach, or the first part of the small intestine. Since the lining of these areas exists to protect the underlying tissues from stomach, the symptoms of a peptic ulcer can be unpleasant, and the long-term implications can be serious if the condition is untreated.

Types of Peptic Ulcers 

Ulcers are classified based on their location. The three main types of ulcers are:

  • Esophageal ulcer - Occurs in the esophagus, the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach
  • Gastric ulcer - An ulcer in the stomach itself
  • Duodenal ulcer - Occurs in the duodenum, which is the first part of the small intestine

Causes of Peptic Ulcers

The digestive tract is normally protected by digestive chemicals like stomach acid by a layer of protective mucous. If the amount of mucous decreases, or the amount of acid increases, then an ulcer might occur.

There are a lot of myths about the causes of peptic ulcers. For example, many people believe that spicy foods or stress can cause peptic ulcers; this is a myth. The two most common causes of peptic ulcers are bacterial infection and medications. Infection by the microorganism H. pylori can cause ulcers. Another culprit is taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen sodium for an extended period of time. Less commonly, a gastrinoma, or a tumor of the acid-secreting cells in the stomach, can cause peptic ulcers.

There are a couple of lifestyle factors that can increase a person's risk of developing a peptic ulcer. Smoking and frequent alcohol consumption are both associated with a higher risk.

Symptoms of Peptic Ulcers

Pain is the single most common symptom of a peptic ulcer, and it's easy to see why. The ulcer itself, as a form of damage to the tissue, causes pain. It then comes into contact with acid from the stomach, which exacerbates the pain. More specifically, symptoms can include:

  • Burning pain in the stomach, that gets worse between meals, at night, or when the stomach is empty
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Bloating
  • Appetite changes
  • Weight loss

Antacids and certain foods may provide temporary relief, but the symptoms will keep coming back if there is a peptic ulcer. If you have persistent pain, concerning symptoms, or severe symptoms such as vomiting blood, you should make an appointment with your doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

Treatment of Peptic Ulcers

Untreated peptic ulcers can cause serious problems, including infection, a hole in the stomach, scar tissue that blocks the passage of food through the digestive system, and internal bleeding. Therefore, it's important for patients with peptic ulcers to get effective treatment as soon as they recognize that there is a problem.

Potential treatments for a peptic ulcer include:

  • Eliminating potential causes such as smoking, alcohol use, and NSAIDs
  • Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), a class of medications that lower acid production so that the ulcer can heal. Examples include Prilosec and Protonix.
  • Antibiotics may be used if the ulcer is caused by bacteria.
  • Endoscopy may be used to treat certain ulcers.
  • Surgery may be used in severe cases, such as when there is internal bleeding or a hole in the stomach

If you have symptoms of a peptic ulcer, it's important to get treatment and diagnosis, both to alleviate symptoms and to prevent the condition from worsening. To schedule a consultation today, please contact one of the doctors at Gastroenterology Associates at (225) 927-1190.

Why should I visit a gastroenterologist
 

Topics: Stomach Ulcers

What Causes Rectal Bleeding: Understanding Your Symptoms

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Wed, Nov 21, 2018 @ 1:59 PM

rectal bleedingBlood seen in the toilet or after wiping can be alarming.  Your mind may begin to race, wondering what is causing the bleeding and if it could be something serious.  Fortunately, the cause behind most cases of rectal bleeding is benign and easily treatable, so there is often no need to panic. Still, this is a symptom that should never be ignored and requires evaluation by a qualified physician to determine its source and treatment.  In the majority of patients, rectal bleeding will ultimately be attributed to one of the following three causes:

Bleeding Due to Anal Fissures

Anal fissures are tears in the lining of the anus. They can be caused by chronic diarrhea, straining during bowel movements, childbirth, and hardened stools. Symptoms of anal fissures include visible skin tears around the anus, pain during and after bowel movements, itching, irritation, and of course, rectal bleeding.  In rare cases, fissures can be an indicator of something more severe such as HIV or anal cancer.  If a physician suspects these conditions, further testing will be needed.

Bleeding Due to Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids are blood vessels that are swollen and create a lump in the lining of the anus or lower rectum. The lumps can be visible depending on their location and cause discomfort, irritation, swelling, and itchiness, as well as rectal bleeding. Nearly three-fourths of adults will experience hemorrhoids throughout their life.  These can typically be attributed to factors such as low-fiber diet, straining during bowel movements, being pregnant, or sitting on the toilet for too long.

Bleeding Due to Constipation

When stool has become hardened and not enough water is being absorbed in the digestive process, constipation is a likely result.  Constipation is typically defined by having fewer than three bowel movements over the course of a week.  This can cause rectal bleeding through straining as well as hardened stool tearing the lining of the rectum or anus during a bowel movement.   

While the above conditions are often isolated, like rectal bleeding, they too can be a symptom resulting from a separate condition.  The only way to definitively determine the source is to see a medical professional such as a gastroenterologist.  Often, simple treatment methods such as increasing fiber intake, changing diet, or using medicated ointments are enough to resolve the issue.  For others, more in-depth testing or treatment protocols may be needed.

If you are experiencing frequent rectal bleeding, it is imperative that you discuss the situation with your healthcare provider. They will likely recommend a visit with a specialist such as those at Gastroenterology Associates where your symptoms can be diagnosed, treated, and monitored by a licensed gastroenterologist. Call today or schedule an appointment.

SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT

Why am I Always Nauseous?

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Fri, Nov 16, 2018 @ 2:07 PM

chronic nauseaIt is completely normal to feel stomach upset and nausea from time to time.  However, when those feelings become chronic, they require further investigation to determine the underlying cause.

Mental Health Causing Nausea

Stress, fear, and anxiety can cause many stomach-related problems. Stress and depression can contribute to ulcers, anxiety can result in symptoms like nausea, vomiting, bloating, constipation and diarrhea, and insomnia can make a person feel generally weak, sick, or sensitive to aches and pains.  Mental health conditions such as eating disorders can also have an impact on the digestive system, causing decreased stomach size, anemia and vitamin deficiencies that can all lead the stomach to feel upset.

Nausea Caused by Food, Diet, and Lifestyle

Sometimes lifestyle is the direct cause for stomach pains. Consuming foods that are high in sugar or generally unhealthy can put a strain on the stomach. Habits like smoking, drinking alcohol, and use of prescription drugs can also exacerbate chronic nausea.

In some cases, a food intolerance may be involved. Conditions like Celiac disease, lactose intolerance, or other allergies may develop at any point in a person’s life and cause pains when triggering foods are consumed. In some cases, food poisoning may also play a role. Help prevent these problems by knowing and avoiding irritating foods, remaining hydrated, and limiting exposure to harmful bacteria through handwashing and diligent personal hygiene.

Disorders of the Digestive Tract that Can Cause Nausea

Chronic conditions of the stomach or digestive tract could also be the cause of lingering nausea. Some of these conditions include acid reflux disease, problems with the gall bladder, pancreatitis, gastroparesis, diabetes, cancers of the digestive system, and appendicitis. If you suspect that any of these may be the cause, the best option is to seek medical attention and have a doctor outline a treatment plan based on your condition.

Conditions that cause problems with our ability to perceive motion and balance can also cause nausea. Swelling or infection of the inner ear can cause our balance to be off creating disorientation. We can also experience vertigo or motion sickness that trigger nausea. 

Many women also discover that one of the earliest signs of pregnancy is nausea. “Morning sickness” is a symptom many women experience for the first 12-14 weeks of pregnancy. The direct cause is unclear, but it is suspected to be a relation to lack of vitamin B6 and hormonal imbalances.  Many women also feel stomach pains that are also associated with their menstrual cycle.

If your stomach pain has become an ongoing issue that is interfering with your quality of life, you may have a serious condition. If the severity or frequency of your nausea becomes too much to bear, you should seek medical attention. Contact a gastroenterologist, like those of Gastroenterology Associates and schedule an appointment. 

9 Signs of Celiac Disease

Eating Disorders and GI Problems: Understanding the Connections

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Thu, Sep 27, 2018 @ 10:42 AM

eating disordersAn eating disorder is a medical condition in which an individual practices eating habits that are harmful to their physical and mental health. Among the most commonly diagnosed types are binge eating disorder, anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and pica.  Each condition is characterized by its own, unique set of behaviors and symptoms.  However, they are all connected in their ability to cause serious consequences in a patient’s health, including dangerous complications for the digestive system.

How Anorexia Affects the Digestive System

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder in which a patient severely limits the amount of food they consume out of fear of being or becoming overweight.  Symptoms of anorexia include a rapid and continuous loss of weight, dryness of skin and nails, muscle weakness, fainting or dizziness, and thinning hair among others.  Over time, the lack of essential nutrients normally obtained through food can lead to malnutrition and digestive complications.

Because an individual with anorexia is eating at an extremely restricted level, the muscles throughout the digestive system can begin to weaken and atrophy.  In turn, a condition called gastroparesis develops in which the process of emptying the stomach becomes significantly slower or even stops altogether.  As a result, patients may begin to experience GI symptoms such as bloating, abdominal pain and pressure, constipation, and vomiting. 

How Binging and Purging Behaviors Affect the Digestive System

Binging and purging are phases of bulimia nervosa, an eating disorder in which an individual participates in cyclical eating habits of overeating followed by purging through self-induced vomiting or the use of laxatives.

In those who purge through vomiting, complications can include tearing within in the esophagus and muscle weakness in the esophagus and sphincter.  This can lead to problems such as trouble swallowing and chronic acid reflux.  Over time, the stomach acids which cause reflux can also lead to erosion of the mucous membranes of the esophagus, eventually resulting in a condition called Barrett’s esophagus.  Patients with Barrett’s are also at an increased risk of developing esophageal cancer.

In cases where a patient relies on laxatives as a way to purge, complications can include dehydration, kidney failure and overstimulation of the bowel to the point of complete shutdown.  As a result, patients may need extreme medical intervention, including dialysis, complete or partial colon resection, or use of a colostomy bag.

What is Pica, and How Does it Affect the GI Tract?

Pica is an eating disorder with which many are unfamiliar.  It is a condition hallmarked by the compulsive need a person experiences to eat foreign substances that are not meant for human consumption. Cases of pica have reported consumption of materials including dirt, paint, glass, cloth, and household cleaning products.

How pica affects the body and GI tract depends on what is being consumed. Indigestable objects can cause blockages; sharp objects can lead to cuts or tears within the digestive tract, and other items may introduce toxic substances, parasites, or bacteria into the body. 

Successfully treating any eating disorder includes a team of specialists, including general practitioners, psychiatrists, and gastroenterologists.  Together, these physicians can assess the current state of a patient’s health, as well as develop a thorough treatment plan to help overcome the eating disorder and any physical complications that it may have produced.  If you or a loved one is suffering from an eating disorder, do not delay medical attention.  Contact your physician today, and schedule an appointment with Gastroenterology Associates to evaluate the current state of your gastrointestinal health.

 SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT

Esophageal Stricture: Explaining the Tightness in Your Throat

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Fri, Aug 31, 2018 @ 1:47 PM

esophageal strictureAn esophageal stricture is caused by damage to the esophagus that causes inflammation or swelling. When this occurs, the space in the esophagus becomes smaller, making it feel tighter and compromising function. Esophageal strictures cause symptoms such as hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, heartburn, regurgitation of food, feeling of tightness in the chest after a meal, and frequent burping or hiccupps.

While tightness in the throat can be a result of other conditions like strep throat, sinus infections, or allergic reactions, an esophageal stricture is usually caused by chemicals such as stomach acid burning the esophagus. GERD and acid reflux diseases are the most common culprit for esophageal strictures.

Diagnosis of Esophageal Stricture

The biggest risk involved with esophageal stricture is pulmonary aspiration. This can occur if food or liquid enters the lungs. There is also an increased risk of choking, while some experience a loss of appetite due to discomfort that can lead to malnutrition or dehydration.

There are a few different ways which a doctor can diagnose a case of esophageal stricture. Barium swallow tests are common, which involves swallowing a barium dye and taking x-ray images of the esophagus. This is typically a first step and preferred method as it is a non-invasive procedure.

Endoscopy is another option for diagnostic purposes.  This technique involves a camera entering through the throat to obtain images of the upper GI tract. There is also pH testing that can be performed, where a tube is entered through the mouth into the stomach to measure the amount of stomach acid that enters the esophagus.

Treatment of Esophageal Stricture

Once testing has determined the cause of stricture, your doctor will recommend a treatment plan. The solution often involves stents or dilations, which means the esophagus is opened or stretched to alleviate the tightness.  If GERD is the cause of the stricture, your doctor may recommend medication or changes in diet that will help to alleviate symptoms.

Although tightness in the throat may appear to be nothing, chronic cases should be investigated by a gastroenterologist. If you are exhibiting signs of esophageal stricture or are concerned with symptoms of GERD or acid reflux, it is important to seek out medical help. Gastroenterology Associates can help. Contact us today or visit our website for more information.

 6 Reasons Not to Ignore GERD

 

Topics: Esophagus

Steps to Keep Heartburn Under Control

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Mon, Jul 30, 2018 @ 2:48 PM

controlling heartburnHeartburn is very common and brings discomfort to millions.  The condition is the result of stomach acid backing up into the esophagus, and it can produce a burning sensation in the throat or chest.  Other common symptoms include sore throat, coughing, hoarseness, regurgitation, and difficulty swallowing.

If you suffer from frequent heartburn, it is important to draw connections between certain behaviors or foods that seem to trigger the condition.  Identifying these can be key to treating your case effectively. For most patients, successful heartburn relief includes some or all of the following:

Make Dietary Changes to Prevent Heartburn

Foods that are high in acid such as citrus, fruits, and tomato products are often contributors to heartburn, as are fatty foods and alcohol.  Sufferers may also find that eating large meals triggers their symptoms.  In this case, eating smaller meals throughout the day and taking care to not eat too quickly may help.

Know When Not to Eat for Heartburn

While heartburn can strike at any time, there are some specific times throughout the day when you may find the symptoms to be at their worst.  Eating just before exercise or periods of increased physical activity, for instance, can often prompt the familiar burning sensation.  Likewise, eating just before bedtime can make for a long and uncomfortable night.  Before hitting the gym or lying down, give your body a full two hours to fully digest your most recent meal.  You may also find it helpful to sleep in a slightly elevated position with pillows to support you.

Chew Sugar Free Gum after Meals

Gum increases salivary gland production which can help to neutralize the acids in your stomach and digestive tract.

Rule out Medications as the Heartburn Culprit

Several medications including anti-depressants, hormone therapy, antibiotics and many more can cause symptoms that may include heartburn. If you notice heartburn begins when you start using a certain medication, make sure that your healthcare provider is aware of your side effects.

Manage Your Weight to Prevent Heartburn

Individuals who are overweight are at a higher risk of experiencing acid reflux.  In many cases, weight loss can make a significant positive impact in a patient’s symptoms.

Gastroenterology Associates can help diagnose and treat chronic heartburn. If you are exhibiting symptoms and want help keeping them under control, contact us today to schedule an appointment.

6 Reasons Not to Ignore GERD

Topics: Acid Reflux

Celiac Vs. Crohn’s: Differences and Similarities

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Fri, Jun 22, 2018 @ 12:59 PM

celiac vs crohn'sWe all experience stomach pains from time to time and normally pay little mind to it. It could have been caused by something you ate, how much you ate, a night of drinking, nervousness, or countless other reasons. However, if you feel like you have a persisting problem that leaves you running to the bathroom or experiencing painful stomach cramps day after day, you may have a chronic condition like Crohn’s or Celiac disease.

These conditions are very similar in nature and it is possible for one individual to have both conditions; however, there are also some key differences which distinguish the two.

What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac is an autoimmune disorder in which the body does not properly digest a protein called gluten that is found in grains like barley, wheat, and rye.  Instead of processing it normally, the body recognizes gluten as something foreign and triggers the immune system to attack the small intestine. 

A strict gluten-free diet is the best treatment for celiac disease. This means eliminating foods made from or processed with gluten, including bread, corn, rice, soy, beans, flax, oats, pasta, flour, cereals, and processed lunch meats.

What is Crohn’s Disease?

Crohn’s disease, on the other hand, is an inflammatory bowel condition. There is no known cause for Crohn’s other than potential links to genetics and family history.  By causing inflammation in the lining of the digestive tract, Crohn’s leads to complications that are not typical symptoms of celiac disease.  These complications are typically how doctors can distinguish between the diseases before any real diagnostic tests are run.

In addition to the digestive tract, Crohn’s often causes inflammation in the eyes and joints as well. Sufferers may also notice bloody stool, as the disease normally causes the most inflammation in the lower half of the digestive tract.

There are, of course, dietary restrictions which can help manage Crohn’s disease. Many patients cannot eat dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter and find it helpful to eat foods that are high in fiber like broccoli, spinach, apples, and other fruits and veggies. Some people with Crohn’s opt for a gluten free diet as well, but there is currently no research that supports the necessity of a gluten free diet for those afflicted with Crohn’s disease.  Treatments for Crohn’s includes medication and sometimes surgery for severe cases where other options have failed.

Have a Doctor Distinguish Between Celiac or Crohn’s 

If you feel that you are suffering from either condition, don’t guess.  Instead, schedule a visit with your general practitioner. They will often refer you to a specialist such as those at Gastroenterology Associates for a definitive diagnosis and development of an appropriate course of treatment. You may also schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist yourself by contacting our Baton Rouge office.

Crohn's Disease Gastroenterology Associates Baton Rouge

Topics: Crohn's Disease, Celiac Disease

Managing 4 Common Triggers of IBS

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Tue, May 22, 2018 @ 3:35 PM

ibs triggersIBS, or irritable bowel syndrome, is among the most common gastrointestinal disorders, affecting as much as 15 percent of the world’s population.  It is chronic in nature, and flare-ups can leave sufferers wondering if they will ever be free of the bloating, constipation, and cramping that often accompany the condition.  However, there are steps that patients can take to manage their symptoms and prevent flare-ups.  Perhaps the most important of these is identifying the triggers that aggravate IBS in the first place.  And, while such triggers can differ for everyone, there are a few that are commonly observed across a large percentage of patients.

Sugar as an IBS Trigger

Unsurprisingly, what we consume can take a major toll on the digestive system.  For IBS sufferers in particular, certain dietary choices can wreak havoc, and various forms of sugar are often the worst culprits.  These include:

  • Fermentable sugar, or fructans, found in many wheat products including breads and pasta
  • Sugars from alcohol
  • Artificial sweeteners containing sugar alcohols such as sorbitol

Stress-Related IBS Symptoms

The gut has a stronger connection to mental health than many realize.  Conditions such as stress and anxiety have a high level of comorbidity with IBS, meaning the two appear together frequently.  Furthermore, drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are commonly used, not just in the treatment of depression and anxiety, but in the treatment of IBS as well.  For many patients, gaining greater control over mental health also equates to improvement of IBS.

Impact of Sleep on IBS

Sleep is restorative and necessary for many key areas of health.  Research has highlighted a connection between poor sleep and worsening of IBS symptoms, suggesting that the appropriate quantity and quality of sleep can make a significant, positive impact on the condition.  For many, relatively simple changes to sleep habits and spaces can make a drastic difference.

Vitamin D and IBS

Vitamin D plays a crucial role in keeping the gut healthy and promoting proper function of the immune system.  Often, IBS patients are found to also be suffering from a Vitamin D deficiency.  In these cases, taking a Vitamin D supplement can result in improvement of IBS symptoms such as bloating, cramping, and diarrhea. 

If you are one of the many Americans suffering from embarrassing and painful IBS symptoms, understand that there is help available.  By identifying and addressing your triggers appropriately, as well as working with a skilled gastroenterology physician, you can minimize the disease’s impact on your life and routine.  Contact Gastroenterology Associates today, and request your appointment to learn more about your condition and available treatment options.

ibs causes