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Gastroenterology Blog

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: Celiac Disease, Crohn's 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

5 Quick Facts About Diverticulitis

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Fri, Apr 27, 2018 @ 3:39 PM

5 quick facts - diverticulitisThere are many changes that can occur within the digestive tract, particularly with age.  One such change, which is increasingly common in patients over 40, is the development of small pouches within the digestive system’s lining, most often in the lower portion of the large intestine commonly referred to as the sigmoid colon.  These bulging pouches are known as diverticula and their presence is a condition called diverticulosis or diverticular disease.  In many cases, they cause no problematic symptoms.  However, there are instances in which diverticulosis may progress into a condition known as diverticulitis.

What is Diverticulitis?

Diverticulitis occurs when diverticula tear and become infected, inflamed, or both.

What are the Symptoms of Diverticulitis?

The most common symptom associated with diverticulitis is pain and tenderness in the lower left abdomen.  This pain could be sudden and severe or mild and progressing in intensity over a course of several days.  Additional symptoms of diverticulitis can include:

  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation (diarrhea is less common)

What are the Complications of Diverticulitis?

Most patients with diverticulitis will not experience complications.  However, about 25 percent could experience one or more of the following:

  • Abscess in the colon wall
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Fistula, or abnormal tissue connection, between the bladder and colon
  • Intestinal blockage from scarring
  • Peritonitis, or abscess of the abdominal cavity which occurs when a perforation of diverticula allow contents of the intestine to seep out. Peritonitis is an emergency medical situation and could be fatal without prompt surgical intervention.

Who is Most Likely to Suffer from Diverticulitis?

Diverticulitis is more likely to occur with age and is most often seen in those over 40 years old.  Additional risk factors for developing the condition include:

  • Being overweight
  • Eating a diet that is low in fiber and high in animal fats
  • Smoking
  • Taking medications such prescription or over-the-counter pain killers
  • Sedentary lifestyle

How is Diverticulitis Treated?

Most cases of diverticulitis respond well to antibiotics.  Additionally, a physician may recommend a temporary liquid diet as the colon heals.  However, patients who have complications associated with diverticulitis may require additional interventions.  These could include draining of an abscess or surgery in the most severe cases.

If you are suffering from the symptoms of diverticulitis, do not delay seeking treatment.  With the appropriate course of antibiotics and dietary changes, it is likely that your case will resolve without complication.  Contact Gastroenterology Associates and request an appointment with one of our board-certified gastroenterologists today.


Topics: Diverticulitis

Gallstone Risk Factors & Symptoms Explained

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Fri, Apr 13, 2018 @ 11:17 AM

gallstonesThe gallbladder is a small organ found on the abdomen’s right side, beneath the liver.  Its primary purpose is store bile that is released after eating as an aid in fat digestion.  However, the gallbladder can occasionally do more harm than good when it fails to function properly.

What are Gallstones?

Gallstones are hardened deposits of digestive fluid that occur in the gallbladder or the bile duct.  The size of these deposits can range from as small as a single grain of rice to as large as a golf ball.  Some patients only experience one, while others may have several. 

Symptoms of Gallstones

Many gallstones cause no symptoms whatsoever.  However, those that block the bile duct can lead to a number of painful and bothersome symptoms associated with the resulting inflammation, a condition also known as cholecystitis.  These symptoms include:

  • Pain and tenderness located in the upper right abdomen (Pain may also be felt in the upper right back and shoulder.)
  • Discomfort or pain after eating
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fever

Risk Factors for Developing Gallstones

Some patients are more likely to develop gallstones than others based on the presence of certain risk factors.  These include:

  • Family history of gallstones
  • Being overweight
  • Eating a diet that is high in fat or cholesterol or low in fiber
  • Experiencing rapid weight loss
  • Being pregnant
  • Being over 60 years old
  • Being female
  • Being of Mexican or Native American descent

Treatment for Gallstones

Some cases of gallstones, particularly those which are asymptomatic, may be initially treated with medications and changes in diet.  However, most patients who are experiencing symptoms from the condition will require gallbladder removal.  This procedure is safe and effective, and any side effects that patients may experience regarding digestive changes are generally mild and temporary. 

If you are experiencing the symptoms of gallstones, contact Gastroenterology Associates, and request an appointment with one of our Baton Rouge gastroenterologists.  Our physicians can confirm your diagnosis and discuss the most effective treatment options available to bring relief. 

Why should I visit a gastroenterologist

Topics: Gallbladder

Will I Regain Weight After the Gastric Balloon?

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Mon, Apr 09, 2018 @ 12:00 AM

Close up of a woman standing on the scales in hospitalIf you’ve decided to give the gastric balloon a try for weight loss, you have likely been on a long journey to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle.  Exercise programs, diet fads, and medication – you may feel as though you have tried them all.  With each attempt, regardless of how much success you have found, it has always been temporary, and the weight has always come back.  It is only natural as you consider the pros and cons of this weight loss procedure that you have your fair share of skepticism.  How can you know that this time will be different? 

To answer this question, it is important to first understand what constitutes realistic expectations of weight loss from the gastric balloon. 

How Much Weight Will I Lose with the Gastric Balloon?

Because the gastric balloon is designed specifically for those with a lower body mass index than other surgical alternatives, patients will not lose the same large amounts of weight.  A gastric bypass patient can lose over 100 pounds, and candidates for the gastric balloon will typically lose 20 – 40 pounds (or 10 – 20% of their body weight) over the six months the balloon in place.

How Can I Maintain Weight Loss from the Gastric Balloon?

In addition to the total amount of weight lost, the gastric balloon differs from alternative procedures in a number of other ways.  Perhaps most significant is the fact that the balloon does not make any permanent change to anatomy.  The balloon is placed inside the stomach and then removed after a six-month period.  This temporary placement of the balloon does not equate to temporary weight loss. 

One of the most important components of a successful gastric balloon procedure is medical guidance and support to help patients make permanent lifestyle changes.  The six month timeframe should not only be a time of weight loss, it should also be a time of education.  With comprehensive coaching by experts in both dietary and exercise programs, patients are able to learn healthy habits while simultaneously dropping pounds.  By the time the balloon is removed, the majority of patients have made turned the lessons they learned into lasting habits, enabling them to easily maintain the weight they have lost.

While it is certainly understandable to have concerns about regaining weight, if you are committed to the complete program, including coaching, you can count on both achieving and maintaining desirable results. 

For those in Baton Rouge or the surrounding areas, the O.N.E. Weigh program offers the gastric balloon procedure performed by skilled gastroenterologists.  To learn more about the program and if you may be a candidate, contact us by clicking below.  


Topics: Gastric Balloon

Life With IBD: 4 Tips for Managing Symptoms

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Thu, Apr 05, 2018 @ 12:50 PM

Young woman with hot water bottle on stomach on the bedFor most, stomach troubles are an occasional issue that causes short-term discomfort when a virus or bacterial infection is involved.  But, for over 1.5 million others, their digestive struggles are far more severe.  In fact, for those who are living with the condition known as inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, painful flare-ups of the disease can be a life-long struggle with the ability to impact nearly every facet of day-to-day life.

Fortunately, IBD doesn’t have to mean drastically altering one’s lifestyle or the activities they most enjoy.  It simply means that there will be additional preparation needed and some key changes to help manage the onset of symptoms and help keep them at bay.

Eat an IBD Focused Diet

Nutrition is a vital component in all aspects of health, particularly when it comes to managing IBD.  Each individual will respond uniquely to different foods, and there is no one-size-fits-all diet to ease IBD.  However, most patients will find certain foods that tend to aggravate symptoms and that avoiding them helps keep issues such as cramping or diarrhea in check.  Partnering with a good nutritionist can help patients get a jump start on managing IBD through diet.

Avoid Exacerbating IBD through Stress

Stress does far more than affect the emotions and mental state of wellbeing, it can take a large toll physically as well.  Just consider for a moment a time when you have felt particularly anxious about something.  Can you feel the sensation of your stomach in knots?  When you already have IBD to contend with, stress can be yet another factor worsening the symptoms.  To help keep them under control, learn and practice calming techniques like meditation or deep breathing and consider speaking to a professional for additional methods that may prove helpful.

Quit Smoking to Improve IBD

Research has uncovered an interesting link between smoking and IBD, particularly in the form of Crohn’s disease. Findings have shown that smokers are more likely to suffer from Crohn’s than non-smokers, are more likely to relapse, and that treatment options are less effective.  Of course, there are countless health-related reasons to kick the smoking habit, but for those who also suffer from IBD, quitting could make a significant difference in the condition and its impact.

Find an IBD Specialist You Trust

Perhaps the most important factor in effectively managing IBD is finding a specialist in whom you have complete confidence.  A good physician will do more than simply write a prescription.  He or she will be your partner in managing your medications, lifestyle, nutrition, and all other elements which may impact your disease.  They will align their treatment plan with other medical professionals who may also be able to help in order to give their patients the best possible outcome.  To find this physician, consider speaking with other local IBD patients about their own doctors and what they like most about them. 

In the Baton Rouge area, Gastroenterology Associates is home to a team of skilled, board-certified physicians who are all intimately familiar with IBD and the impact it has on their patients’ lives.  If you are ready to get your condition under control, contact our office and request an appointment with any one of them today.

 Chohn's & Colitis: Know More

Topics: Irritable Bowel Syndrome

5 Benefits of the Gastric Balloon [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Wed, Mar 28, 2018 @ 7:24 PM

Smiling young woman excited about the scaleFor patients who are considering turning to a weight loss procedure, the decision nearly always comes after countless other efforts.  In fact, the majority have been attempting weight loss on their own for an average of 3 to 4 years before looking into medical alternatives, and the decision to seek outside help is rarely an easy one.  Patients may feel that they have failed at losing the weight on their own, or they may fear undergoing a major medical operation. 

For some, the gastric balloon could be the best option to both drop the pounds and alleviate these concerns.  The procedure not only requires active lifestyle and dietary change on the part of the patient to help maximize and maintain results following the balloon’s removal at six months, it is also a far less invasive option than most alternatives.  Learn more about the gastric balloon and how it may benefit you in the infographic below.



Colonoscopy Fears: Why You Shouldn't Listen to Your Gut

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Tue, Mar 20, 2018 @ 4:56 PM

colonoscopy fears.jpegColorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths among Americans.  Fortunately, it is also one of the most preventable with early detection.  This is why colonoscopies at the age of 50 (or sooner for high-risk patients) have become the standard recommended screening test.  Not only can these procedures detect existing colorectal cancer, they also allow gastroenterologists to find and remove pre-cancerous polyps before they have an opportunity to progress.  However, there are still many who put off the test, oftentimes due to fears that are unwarranted such as the following.

A Colonoscopy is going to be Embarrassing

There are many patients who are embarrassed to talk about a colonoscopy, much less have one.  They may feel that they will be exposed with doctors and nurses seeing them in a vulnerable position, but these concerns are unfounded.  The medical professionals who perform colonoscopies do this same procedure countless times over the course of their career.  Not only is it something they are used to seeing frequently, they are focused only at the job at hand by viewing the monitor where the images are displayed.  Rest assured that those in the room with you will be far more concerned with the interval view than the external one.

A Colonoscopy is going to Hurt

The assumption that a colonoscopy may be painful may seem logical, but it could not be further from the truth.  Patients are sedated before their procedure and will not feel a thing.  Furthermore, the scope itself is a very thin and flexible tube that should cause no discomfort.  In the majority of cases, the most discomfort patients feel after their procedure, if any, is from trapped gas that soon passes.

I’m Scared to get my Colonoscopy Results

Perhaps it is the fear of the unknown that keeps someone from receiving their colonoscopy.  They may fear that their physician will find evidence of cancer.  Fortunately, most colonoscopies give good results, and when performed in a timely manner, they can actually prevent the vast majority of colorectal cancers from ever developing.  In reality, putting off a colonoscopy should be a far greater fear than the results of one done at a recommended age.

I Don’t have Time for a Colonoscopy

A colonoscopy does require a certain investment of time.  Patients will need to take the day off of work, find someone to drive them, and prepare the day before by drinking a colon-cleansing liquid.  The truth, however, is that patients don’t have the time to NOT get a colonoscopy.  Putting this test off to avoid an unpleasant drink or time away from work is simply nonsensical, as the end result could be far more dangerous and time-consuming. 

If you are at average risk for colorectal cancer and are 50 years old or are 45 and at high-risk, don’t let anxiety about a colonoscopy prevent you from receiving this critical screening.  By getting the procedure, you will find that your fears beforehand were unfounded and that the anticipation was the worst part by far.  Furthermore, you will be safeguarding your health for years to come, as a colonoscopy with a negative result does not need to be repeated for 10 years. 

Ready to schedule?  Contact Gastroenterology Associates, and request a consultation with one of our gastroenterologists today.

Contact Our Colon  Cancer Screening Clinic 

Topics: Colonoscopy

Baton Rouge Hemorrhoid Patient Questions: The Answers You Need

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Thu, Feb 22, 2018 @ 9:54 AM

Hemorrhoid Treatment at Digestive Health Center of LouisianaPatients suffering from hemorrhoids may have questions related to their condition.  However, most patients shy away from seeking answers and solutions due to embarrassment.  Over 3 million hemorrhoid cases are diagnosed annually, and physicians are able to offer various treatment options including topical ointments and hemorrhoid banding.


Why do I get Hemorrhoids?

Clusters of veins in the anus and rectum become swollen in a condition commonly referred to as hemorrhoids (also known as piles).  Up to 75 percent of Americanswill deal with the condition at some point as a result of pressure in the lower rectum.  Causes that may contribute to this pressure and resulting hemorrhoids include:

  • Pregnancy
  • Obesity
  • Straining during bowel movements
  • Sitting on the toilet for extended periods of time

Additionally, older adults and those who do not get enough daily fiber may be at an increased risk for developing hemorrhoids.

Are Hemorrhoids Dangerous?

The major complications of hemorrhoids are discomfort and itching or no symptoms at all. In rare cases, blood loss from hemorrhoids could lead to iron deficiency anemia which would require further medical evaluation. 

Do I Need to See a Doctor for Hemorrhoids?

If you are experiencing the symptoms of hemorrhoids, particularly rectal bleeding, you should seek medical treatment. 

How can my Hemorrhoids be Treated?

In mild cases, home remedies are often effective at easing hemorrhoid-related symptoms.  These may include applying over-the-counter ointments or pads, eating a high-fiber diet, and soaking in a warm bath.  If hemorrhoids are persistent and unresponsive to home treatment, please contact a gastroenterologist.  You may be a candidate for a minimally invasive procedure known as hemorrhoid banding. During this procedure, rubber bands are placed around the hemorrhoid in order to cut off its blood supply thus causing it to die and fall off in roughly one week’s time. 

If you are experiencing the symptoms of hemorrhoids, schedule an appointment with a Baton Rouge gastroenterologist to discuss the best treatment options for your case.




Topics: Hemmorhoids

Abdominal Pain: When is it Time to Visit a Gastroenterologist?

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Tue, Sep 19, 2017 @ 12:26 PM

Woman lying on sofa looking sick in the living room.jpegWe’ve all experienced abdominal pain at some point.  It can be bothersome and frustrating.  But, what if your abdominal pain reaches the point of concern?  If you’ve had ongoing or severe pain, you may find yourself wondering when you should see a physician, and you are right to do so.  While many stomach pains resolve on their own or respond to certain methods of self-medication, there are others that require a more in-depth look.

Not sure which category your discomfort falls into?  Here are some general guidelines to help you determine when it’s time to see your gastroenterologist.

Location of Abdominal Pain Matters

While it is often the severity of pain that prompts an appointment, the location of abdominal pain is an important factor as well.  The abdomen covers a large area and encompasses many important organs.  Paying attention to where your pain originates can be helpful in determining its root cause.

Pain in the upper, middle abdomen – This location is where the esophagus connects with the stomach.  Pain here is commonly associated with heartburn.  Often, it can be relieved with simple antacids.  However, chest pain due to heart problems, heartburn or other conditions such as inflammation/musculoskeletal pain or even panic attacks, may present in the same way.  Therefore, it is best to seek medical care to determine the cause.  It is always better be safe than sorry, by not missing serious conditions, rather than assuming it is something simple.

Pain in the lower abdomen – If you have a general feeling of cramping or discomfort in the lower abdomen, constipation in the likely culprit.  The condition is often passing and may be helped along with increased fluid and fiber intake or laxatives.  However, if the problem persists or recurs often, a gastroenterologist should be consulted.

Additionally, it is important to note that while many patients assume pain in this area could indicate colon cancer, the disease and associated polyps may not cause ANY symptoms. This is why everyone above 50 needs a colonoscopy, even if they are feeling fine, and sometimes earlier if other risk factors are present.

Pain that is localized – Pain that is localized to one side or the other of the abdomen could indicate an underlying problem with an organ.  Pain in the right, lower abdomen, for instance, could come from the appendix, while the gallbladder may cause pain in the upper right area.  In any case, persistent pain in a localized area should be examined by a doctor.

Severity and Endurance of Abdominal Pain

In general, fleeting abdominal pain is not a cause for concern.  In many cases, your body is able to deal with the source of pain and get you back to normal relatively quickly.  However, this is not always the case.  Seek medical attention immediately if your pain is severe or if it associated with any of the following:

  • Fever
  • Bloody stools
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Yellowing skin or eyes
  • Abdominal swelling or tenderness
  • Shortness of breath

While most cases of abdominal pain are relatively harmless, there are always exceptions.  Still, it is important not to Google your symptoms and allow yourself to assume the worst possible condition such as cancer.  This will only give you undue anxiety regarding your health.  If you experience the above symptoms, it is important to promptly seek medical care.  Then, allow your physician and their medical knowledge to assess the nature and seriousness of your condition and treat it accordingly.

In Baton Rouge and the surrounding areas, patients can contact Gastroenterology Associates and request an appointment to discuss any gastroenterology-related concerns, including abdominal pain. 


Topics: Abdominal Pain