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Gastroenterology Blog

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

What Baton Rouge Needs to Know About Hiatal Hernias

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Mon, Apr 10, 2017 @ 4:20 PM

What Baton Rouge Needs to Know About Hiatal Hernias.jpgDigestive disorders are a part of everyday life for millions of Americans. Diet, stress, and chronic conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) all contribute to disrupting proper digestion.

A lesser-known cause of digestive problems is herniation, or the presence of hernias. A hernia occurs when an internal organ or fatty tissue forces itself into an area where it doesn’t belong. In the case of hiatal hernias, a part of the stomach is pushing upward through the diaphragm.

Small hiatal hernias typically lack noticeable symptoms and may not require medical treatment. It’s entirely possible that you could have a hiatal hernia and not even know until it’s discovered by a physician during an examination. On the other hand, large hiatal hernias can cause issues that disrupt digestion and in some cases require surgery

How are hiatal hernias caused?

The hiatus is an opening in the diaphragm which separates the abdomen from the chest cavity. When everything is working properly, the esophagus passes through the hiatus and attaches to the stomach. A hiatal hernia occurs when the stomach swells up into the chest through that opening.

Why certain people suffer from hiatal hernias is less clear. Some may have been born with a large hiatal opening. Injury to the area or excessive pressure from surrounding muscles due to coughing, straining during bowel movements, or vomiting can also lead to hiatal hernias.

Why do hiatal hernias disrupt digestion?

If a hernia is large enough, it can cause food and acid to reflux into the esophagus, causing heartburn or GERD.

What are the symptoms of hiatal hernias?

Smaller hernias may not cause discomfort and present few, if any, other symptoms. Symptoms that indicate larger hernias which are actively disrupting digestion include:

  • Heartburn
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Excessive belching
  • Chest pain
  • Feeling especially full after meals

If left untreated, hiatal hernias can rarely become trapped in the chest or strangulated—which means the hernia begins to cut off blood to the entrapped intestine. Strangulated hiatal hernias can cause sudden pain in the chest and requires immediate medical attention. More common scenario is that hiatal hernias are found at endoscopy and may be associated with the symptoms of heartburn, regurgitation, etc., which need to be controlled. Most people do not need surgery for the hernia.

That’s why it’s crucial to be properly diagnosed by your Louisiana gastroesophageal specialist when you first notice symptoms.

 Who is at risk for hiatal hernias?

People over the age of 50 are most at risk, and women tend to suffer from hiatal hernias more often than their male counterparts. Obesity is also a contributing cause to the presence of hiatal hernias. 

How are hiatal hernias diagnosed in Baton Rouge?

In order to properly diagnose your gastric condition, your Baton Rouge hernia specialist will use a barium swallow or an upper endoscopy. An upper endoscopy allows your doctor to examine the esophagus and determine the cause of heartburn.

People often dismiss digestive issues without being properly diagnosed, but it’s important to be aware of hiatal hernias,. With small changes in self care or diet, most small hiatal hernias can be taken care of with little to no medical attention required. However, larger hiatal hernias can present serious complications if left untreated.

Don’t just accept digestive problems as a part of your life. Visit a gastroesophageal specialist in Baton Rouge to determine the cause of your digestive distress and start on the road to heartburn management today.


Topics: Common Stomach Problems

What is C. Diff?

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Tue, Nov 17, 2015 @ 2:00 AM
C diff refers to a bacterium known as Clostridium difficile, which is found in several environments, including feces, water, food products, and soil. While it’s possible to have C. diff in the large intestine on a regular basis and not show signs of illness, this only occurs in a small number of people. In most people, accidentally being exposed to C. diff can lead to a bacterial infection that ranges from mild to life-threatening. 

 Symptoms of C. Diff

People with a mild or moderate C. diff infection might have watery diarrhea a few times a day, as well as mild cramping in the abdominal area. Those with a severe infection might experience the following symptoms:

  • Watery diarrhea several times a day
  • Dehydration caused by frequent diarrhea
  • Moderate to severe abdominal pain and cramping
  • Bloody stool or stool with pus caused by raw tissue patches that form when the colon becomes inflamed
  • Fever
  • Appetite loss
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Weight loss

 Inflammation of the colon, or colitis, that occurs due to a severe C. diff infection can lead to  serious complications if not treated in a timely and appropriate manner.

 Causes of C Diff

C diff infections occur when people come into contact with contaminated food or surfaces. Healthy bacteria in the intestine can normally prevent C. diff from multiplying and spreading. When there aren’t enough healthy bacteria around, C. diff is able to spread rapidly and cause an infection. C. diff toxins damage the lining in the large intestine, resulting in diarrhea and inflammation in some cases. 

Risk Factors

Anyone can get a C. diff infection, but the risks of getting one are higher in some situations or for people with certain conditions. Risk factors for an infection include the following:

  • Antibiotics: Antibiotics destroy both good and bad bacteria in order to fight an infection. When the amount of healthy bacteria decreases, a C. diff infection is more likely to occur.
  • Healthcare facilities: C. diff easily spreads on several surfaces in hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare facilities. It can also spread from person to person in these types of settings.
  • Serious illnesses: People with certain types of illnesses, such as inflammatory bowel disease or with compromised immune systems due to medical conditions, have a higher risk of having a C. Diff infection. 
  • Surgery: People who have had a gastrointestinal procedure done or abdominal surgery have an increased risk of an infection from C. diff.
  • Age: Those who are 65 years old and up have a higher chance of having a C. diff infection.
  • Until recently, C. diff was felt to be acquired at a hospital or by recent antibiotic use but increasing number of cases have been shown to be “community-acquired”, without the above risk factors. So an index of suspicion and accurate testing is necessary to get the accurate diagnosis.


The standard course of treatment for a C. diff infection is an antibiotic that prevents this bacteria from growing. Those who are already taking other kinds of antibiotics should stop doing so, if possible. Doctors typically prescribe stronger antibiotics for those with severe C. diff infections. 

 Surgery is sometimes done for those who suffer from severe pain or those who have developed colitis. Surgery to remove the affected part of the colon is also done sometimes in severe cases that involve organ failure. 


There are several ways to prevent or lower the risk of having a C. diff infection. Hand washing is one of the most effective ways to do so, especially in healthcare settings.

Other ways to prevent this type of infection include thoroughly cleaning surfaces with bleach, avoiding taking antibiotics unnecessarily and avoiding contact with those who have an infection. 


In some cases C. diff may recur after treatment. In such cases, another course of the same antibiotic given in the first instance, or, depending on the severity of symptoms, a different antibiotic may be needed. Refractory cases need newer therapies and consultation with a gastroenterologist is appropriate for such patients. We also recommend a special taper that was advised by experts to prevent recurrence.

If you experience recurring C. diff infections, please contact us at Gastroenterology Associates to schedule an appointment with one of our gastroenterologists.

Gastroenterology Associates Resource Center

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: Clostridium difficile, Common Stomach Problems

What's ERCP and Who Does It?

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Thu, Aug 27, 2015 @ 3:37 PM

Endoscopic retrograde cholangio-pancreatography (ERCP) is a procedure that allows a gastroenterologist to examine the pancreatic and bile ducts. ERCP is an essential tool in diagnosing pancreatic conditions, managing jaundice, and dealing with gallstones that migrate to the bile ducts. ERCP is best performed by a board-certified gastroenterologist, who will have the highest ability to perform the procedure, interpret the results, and act on the results. 

How ERCP Works

ERCP-for-stuck-gallstonesERCP is a minimally invasive procedure that does not require abdominal incisions. During this procedure, a thin, flexible tube with a light and camera on the end is inserted through the mouth and into the stomach and duodenum, or the top part of the small intestine. Once in the duodenum, the doctor will be able to identify a small opening into the ducts, through which he inserts a thin tube (cannula). Finally, the doctor injects dye into the ducts through the cannula, and x-rays are taken.

This provides an image of the system of ducts that connects the pancreas and liver to the intestines. If necessary, the doctor can take biopsies at the same time.

Uses of ERCP

ERCP is often used to diagnose people who have symptoms of diseases of the bile ducts or pancreas, especially if blood tests or other imaging tests gave inconclusive results. Symptoms that may indicate such problems include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Jaundice
  • Weight loss
  • CT scan or ultrasound showing gallstones or a mass in the ducts, pancreas, or liver

ERCP can also be used to treat certain conditions. It can be used in conjunction with gallbladder surgery, and can successfully be used to remove bile duct stones in patients that develop jaundice, abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting from impacted stones. 

Tumors that block the ducts can be identified and treated by inserting an indwelling plastic tube to bypass the blockage. ERCP is useful in patients with pancreatic cancer or chronic pancreatitis causing narrowing of the bile ducts and jaundice, so the symptoms of jaundice, itching, nausea, etc. may be relieved.

Who Performs ERCP?

ERCP is most safe and effective when it is performed by a gastroenterologist who has extensive training and experience in the procedure. As with any procedure, there are certain side effects associated with ERCP, and having the most qualified doctor perform the procedure can minimize that risk. Additionally, having the procedure performed by a GI doctor at a full-service center means that any and all identified GI conditions can be treated by one doctor, in one place. This produces greater efficiency as well as continuity of care, both of which are associated with better care and better outcomes. 

If you have symptoms of a bile duct problem or a pancreatic problem, it is important to schedule a consultation with a trusted gastroenterologist. Dr. Andrew Nelson, one of the 17 board certified gastroenterologists at Gastroenterology Associates, specializes in ERCP and meets with patients who self-refer or are referred by their physician for the procedure. To schedule your consultation today, please click below and enter your information.

 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: Common Stomach Problems, Pancreas, Gallbladder

Self-Diagnosis with Dr Google

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Fri, Jan 23, 2015 @ 3:22 PM

In the information age that we live in, it is easy to take the path of least resistance and avoid inconvenience when an ailment starts to cause concern and physical impairment.  Our desire for instant gratification can frequently be met with the quick Google search for a diagnosis fitting all of our symptoms.  Limitless outcomes can come from the results- self-delusion on the actual severity of physical conditions, over-reaction to the potential conditions, attempts at self-treatment, and potentially informing your physician of your new “condition” without any testing or physician assessments completed.

self_diagnosis_of_gastro_problems_in_BRThe slippery slope here is that self-diagnosis with Dr Google CANNOT replace the education and experience of a skilled physician.  When looking at the systems of the human body, particularly the abdominal area and organs, a much more complex picture of what could potentially be causing symptoms comes to light. Doctors learn a little more in medical school than a patient can learn in a few Google searches. So, based on where and how the pain presents or on evaluation of the symptoms, physicians are better suited to working up a comprehensive list of potential conditions and the organs that may be involved.

Things To Consider

Now, let us look at some concepts that a novice, “self-diagnoser” will likely not factor into their diagnosis:

1. There are several organs in the trunk / abdomen of the human body:

  • Digestive/Gastroenterological- liver, stomach, gall bladder, pancreas, small intestine, large intestine


  • Renal – kidney


  • Urologic- ureter, bladder, urethra, prostate


  • Gynecologic- uterus, ovaries, tubes


  • Vascular- aorta, major blood vessels supplying the organs


  • Neurologic- nerve- related


  • Orthopedic- spine, hips, etc.


2. There are several symptoms that could be attributable to numerous diseases and conditions.  Pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, feeling full, bloating, abdominal distension, and swelling are all symptoms that could be indicative of one of many gastroenterological issues.

3. There are various diseases that might affect a particular organ, and each organ could be affected by several GI disorders.

What Do These Facts Mean?

We have many diseases (hundreds or thousands) that can only express themselves through a few limited symptoms (multiple dozens, maybe a hundred at the most).  So if abdominal pain is the issue, for example, the possible culprits range from at least 10-20 causes, from about 3-6 organs (at a minimum).  It is THE JOB of a PHYSICIAN to whittle down the possible causes to just one.  Dr Google is not able to get the same end result.

It is the primary goal of your doctor, paired with some testing, years of medical knowledge, and experience treating countless cases like yours, to get to the end result of a diagnosis so that treatment can begin. 

Over-Reaction in Self-Diagnosis

So, how do you know? Often, we assume the worst case scenario before we even visit our doctor, thanks to Google.   As soon as you search for “abdominal pain,” the result is pancreatic cancer in the search results.  BAM ! THAT’S WHAT YOU HAVE!

Some people actually do come across their conditions via self- diagnosis, but most patients are equally worried, confused, and anxious about ALL THE WRONG THINGS.  Any simple pain, especially if temporary and not severe, may not be of serious concern.  Legitimate issues of concern have a way of surfacing, sooner or later. If you have a serious condition, you cannot ignore it, not for long at least. If you have serious symptoms, they need to be evaluated, or in the very least discussed with a health care provider.  Don’t make assumptions, because outcomes vary wildly.

Schedule a Talk With Your Doctor

appointment_for_stomach_pain_in_Baton_RougeOccasionally after long discussions about pain and symptoms or how irritable bowel syndrome or constipation may be causing their symptoms, patients will ask, “So, it’s not cancer?”  If your doctor knows what your concern is, they can directly speak to that point.  Many physicians find that the most difficult part of dealing with patients problems is that they are fearful to come out with their REAL concerns.

Dr Reddy, one of the board certified gastroenterologists practicing at Gastroenterology Associates, says, “I have several patients ask me if their symptoms are from pancreatic cancer- that seems to be the king of all concerns. It doesn’t happen to everyone, and it is not something you screen for.  All you can do is eat healthy, exercise, see the doctor when needed, follow health care instructions, and stop self-diagnosing on the internet.”

The experience and knowledge of the team of doctors at Gastroenterology Associates cannot be matched by any other practice in the Capital Region.  Since 1977, they have been providing the most advanced procedures and treatment programs with the utmost care and accuracy.  If a set of problems or symptoms has been causing concern, don’t wait until it gets worse or attempt to mask the issue, schedule an appointment with one of the best gastro doctors in Baton Rouge.  Click the link below or call the scheduling center at 225.927.1190.

Schedule A Consultation Gastroenterology Associates

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

Prediabetes / Insulin Resistance and Colon Cancer Linked

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Tue, Dec 09, 2014 @ 1:00 PM

Prediabetes_and_colon_canerPrediabetes, a state of elevated blood sugar that can lead to diabetes as time goes on, is most obviously associated with an increased risk of developing diabetes. However, there are a number of other conditions that prediabetic patients are at an elevated risk of developing, including colon cancer. Given the health consequences of prediabetes, it is important to carefully manage prediabetes.

Prediabetes Basics

Prediabetes is a state in which blood sugar is consistently elevated, but not enough to be classified as diabetes. Prediabetes is sometimes referred to as insulin resistance, which means that the body is becoming less receptive to insulin, which keeps blood sugar in check in healthy individuals. The condition is also known as metabolic syndrome, syndrome X, and borderline diabetes. 

Prediabetes is closely related to obesity. Although not all obese people develop metabolic syndrome, they are much more likely to do so than people with a healthy body weight.

Obesity, Prediabetes, and Diabetes in Louisiana

Louisiana faces higher than average rates of being overweight, obesity, and diabetes. According to The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America, Louisiana has the 6th highest rate of overweight and obese individuals in the nation. About one-third of Louisiana adults are obese, a rate which has risen dramatically in recent years. 

Louisiana also ranks 6th highest in the rate of diabetes, with over 11 percent of Louisiana adults living with diabetes. Cases of heart disease, arthritis, cancer, and other obesity-related conditions are expected to rise along with the rate of obesity.

Lifestyle is the single biggest factor in maintaining a healthy weight and preventing the development of prediabetes and diabetes. A sedentary lifestyle and a diet high in fat, refined grains, and sugar contribute to obesity and prediabetes. 

The Link Between Prediabetes and Colon Cancer

A recent review of 16 studies found that prediabetes is strongly linked with colon cancer. The study looked at nearly 900,000 individuals and found that people with prediabetes were twice as likely to develop colon cancer as healthy individuals.

In people with prediabetes, the overall risk of cancer is 15 percent higher. When the results were adjusted for body mass index (BMI), prediabetes was associated with a 22 percent higher risk of cancer.

There are several possible reasons for the link. One strong theory is that people with prediabetes have insulin resistance, which causes the body to produce higher amounts of insulin-like proteins, which promote the growth of cancer.

Controlling Prediabetes and Preventing Colon Cancer

By preventing or controlling prediabetes, it is possible to reduce one's risk of developing colon cancer. Blood sugar-reducing medications such as metformin are sometimes used to control diabetes.

Although medication is a valuable part of treatment, it is usually possible to reverse prediabetes using only lifestyle changes. With lifestyle changes, many prediabetic patients become more sensitive to insulin and can come off medication. This is preferable because it addresses the whole problem, and prevents medication side effects like diarrhea. 

Important lifestyle changes for managing prediabetes include: 

  • Weight loss - even losing as little at 10% of one's body weight can have a huge impact
  • Exercise - promotes weight loss and lowers blood sugar. Exercise makes the muscles take up more glucose and reduce blood sugar, thus making them more “sensitive” to insulin, hence this is the opposite of insulin “resistance”
  • Diet high in fiber, low in sugar, and low in refined grains can prevent blood sugar spikes and promote weight loss

Routine screening is another key tool for the prevention of colon cancer. To schedule your consultation with the Gastroenterology Associates, please click below and enter your information or give us a call at (225) 927-1190. 

Schedule A Consultation Gastroenterology Associates

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: Cancer, Common Stomach Problems, Weight Management

New Recommendations for Management of IBS & Chronic Constipation

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Tue, Oct 07, 2014 @ 3:08 PM

The American College of Gastroenterology recently released a review of the data for the management of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and chronic idiopathic constipation (CIC).

IBS and constipation treatment in Baton RougePatients with IBS experience issues such as abdominal pain, constipation, and frequent diarrhea. Unlike inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) conditions such as Crohn's, IBS does not involve changes to the structure of the bowel but is a”functional” problem, how the digestive tract functions- motility and sensitivity are affected; hence most diagnostic tests such as xrays may be normal. In most cases, the exact cause is not known. Similarly, chronic idiopathic constipation refers to constipation without a known cause.

Patients with these conditions are often frustrated by the challenges associated with understanding the condition and controlling the symptoms. The new American College of Gastroenterology guidelines have the potential to help doctors implement treatments that have the most evidence. 

IBS Recommendations

Some of the most recommended treatments include: 

  • Fiber, especially psyllium fiber as opposed to bran fiber
  • Probiotics, including live culture yogurt, to treat bloating and flatulence
  • Rifaxamin for cases that include diarrhea
  • Linaclotide and lubiprostone for cases that cause constipation
  • Antidepressants and psychological treatment show promise, but do not have strong evidence; also, access may be limited

The report recommended more therapeutic trials for the low-FODMAP diet, which eliminates foods containing simple carbohydrates and alcohol. The diet shows promise, but no large clinical trials have been performed.

On the other hand, the report concluded that certain treatments sometimes recommended for the treatment of IBS need strong evidence before they can be recommended. Treatments that require stronger evidence include elimination diets and prebiotics. Although it is possible that these treatments may benefit some cases, the evidence is not clear enough to recommend their use or to recommend their disuse.


Chronic Constipation Recommendations

The report strongly recommended several treatments for CIC. Fiber supplements, laxatives, prucalopride, lubiprostone, and linaclotide are all strongly recommended for the treatment of chronic constipation. These treatments may be used either on their own or in conjunction with one another.

The recommendations from the American College of Gastroenterology are valuable in helping doctors and patients understand which treatments have the most evidence behind them. However, each patient responds to treatment differently, and a course of treatment that works for one patient may not work for another. The management of conditions like IBS and CIC is generally a matter of introducing treatments and evaluating their effectiveness, under the guidance of a doctor

All of these treatments are not appropriate for everyone. Depending on the type and severity of your symptoms, your gastroenterologist can determine the most appropriate treatment for you. For example, most patients start eating a high fiber diet for IBS, but this may contain foods with high FODMAPS, that may in turn cause worsening of their symptoms. Similarly if you already have constipation, in some cases fiber may make it worse, unless combined with a gentle laxative. You need a “customized” treatment plan, also depending on your response to certain medications and based on certain tests that identify motility problems, etc.

To schedule a consultation about your IBS or chronic constipation with the Gastroenterology Associates, please click below and enter your information or give us a call at (225) 927-1190.

Schedule A Consultation Gastroenterology Associates

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: Common Stomach Problems, Irritable Bowel Syndrome

IBD and the Flu

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Wed, Apr 02, 2014 @ 2:21 PM

Flu and IBD

About IBD

Inflammatory bowel disease refers to a group of diseases that affect the small intestine and/or the colon. The diseases differ somewhat in their severity and manifestation, but they are all autoimmune diseases, or diseases in which the body attacks its own tissue as foreign. Some forms include:

•             Ulcerative colitis

•             Crohn's disease

•             Diversion colitis

•             Lymphocytic colitis

The bowels are responsible for processing and absorbing nutrients, as well as attacking dangerous pathogens. With such an important function, it's no surprise that inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can have wide-ranging effects on overall health. A recent study shows that IBD patients are much more likely to get the flu than people without IBD, and doctors are now recommending that IBD patients receive annual vaccinations. This is especially important since Louisiana is experiencing some of the highest nation-wide rates of influenza.

About the Flu

Influenza is one of the most common infectious diseases in the world, affecting millions of people each year. The flu is a virus which affects the respiratory tract, and can vary considerably in its severity. Although most young, healthy individuals are able to fight it off with just a few days of discomfort, the flu is actually a common cause of death. Death can occur after complications of influenza, like pneumonia, sinus infections, or dehydration, or the worsening of pre-existing conditions like congestive heart failure and asthma.

Symptoms of the flu include: 

  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • Sore throat
  • Coughing
  • Runny or stuffy nose

The Link

As mentioned above, a recent study has revealed that IBD patients - even young patients - have a significantly higher risk of becoming infected with the flu. The study did not determine conclusively whether or not IBD patients had a higher chance of developing serious complications of influenza, but future studies may reveal this information.

Flu Vaccination

Every year, epidemiologists develop a flu vaccine designed to vaccinate against the year's most prevalent forms of the flu. Although many people can benefit from flu vaccination, it's especially beneficial for certain groups. People with young children, people who work in health care or school settings, elderly people, and people with IBD should all be sure to get an annual flu vaccine.

Since there are many strains of the flu, vaccination won't eliminate your chances of getting it; however, it will significantly reduce your risk. You can get your flu vaccine at your doctor's office, or at your local pharmacy. To schedule your appointment today, please contact one of the doctors at Gastroenterology Associates at (225) 927-1190.

board certified 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: Common Stomach Problems, Irritable Bowel Syndrome