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Gastroenterology Blog

How to Manage Health Records and Doctor Relationships

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Fri, Nov 14, 2014 @ 3:11 PM

how_to_manage_health_recordsHow to Manage Health Records and Doctor Relationships –

A Doctor’s Perspective

Your doctor, especially a primary care doctor, or the first specialist you see for a problem, has been with you during the entire course of a problem (during flare- ups, etc), and he /she has reviewed you from the starting point of symptoms.  If you are not happy with your doctor for one reason or the other or have continuing problems (as some of these patients do), please think twice before you switch doctors. They have done the most important or essential testing. If you must go to a different doctor, please take your records with you, the clinic notes, labs, xrays, procedure reports, etc.

Make this a rule if you are moving out of town or out of country, because it is not always easy to get these records from your previous doctor. It may cause unnecessary delay in your diagnosis or treatment. It may cause repetition of tests as well.

Even with a complete report in hand (especially in cases of inflammation of the colon), it is somewhat difficult for a physician to know the severity of the disease based on someone else’s description, often depending on how detailed their report is. Physician techniques for reporting and sample taking from are likely going to vary. So, sometimes tests may need to be repeated, but first-hand information of a physician's own testing and reporting has its own merits.  Similarly, when seeing someone for a second opinion, the doctor is giving an opinion of another doctor’s evaluation.

The same rule applies to hospital visits. This is more important for those patients who have several complicated medical problems that require frequent hospitalizations. Try not to go to a different hospital every time, although there may be certain situations (emergencies) when you go to the nearest hospital. Physicians appreciate having all of a patient’s records at one hospital.

Several points to consider when seeking hospital treatment are:

1. It takes time and effort to obtain records from another institution, and these attempts are not always successful. Your doctor might not always get all the information needed, depending on how thorough the medical records clerk on the other side is.

2. It delays treatment and may cause repetition of tests if multiple hospitals must be contacted for records.

3. It is best to call your doctor’s office first to see if they have some advice for you that may prevent you from going to the hospital. This does not apply in an emergency.

4. Find out which hospital your doctor works with. They may only have privileges to some hospitals.

5. Always go to one hospital, as they will have the records of your previous testing and what happened in the last hospitalization which is important information for your care.

6. When you are ready to be discharged, ask your attending physician to send a copy of the discharge summary to all the doctors involved in your care – your primary care doctor, your cardiologist or gastroenterologist, depending on the current problem.

7. Always take your discharge papers to any doctors seen afterwards for continued treatment of the problem - while it is not everything, it will at least give that doctor a list of medications you were sent home on.  It is the patient’s responsibility to follow-up after discharge, to continue care, and to prevent it from happening again.

8. Always keep an accurate and updated list of medications with dosages with you – useful when you see a doctor or go to a hospital. It is best if it’s typed and has names of medications (brand name/ generic). Complete the list with your pharmacy and emergency contact information, and keep it in your wallet.

9. There are apps available for medical maintenance, but some patients prefer bringing a typed list of:

  • medical problems – caring physicians for each problem
  • medications
  • allergies
  • procedures done -surgeries, colonoscopies, etc.
  • family history

It is not uncommon to overreact when reviewing your own actual reports – lab, xray etc. Reading the fine print, then micro-analyzing every minute detail, can lead some patients to attempt to self-diagnose and/or panic over the unknowns. This happens at times, and it is for these reasons that we advise against trying to read and interpret your own records. 

Patients should, instead, ask the doctor that ordered the test to discuss results, any concerning findings, and the follow-up exams, if needed.  Patients should trust that doctor to stress the important facts and ignore the incidental findings.

The most important component of medical care is the communication that you have between yourself and your doctor.  If you are unhappy with treatment, tell them so, but attempt to resolve issues first before choosing to shop around for another doctor.  Not only will this effort improve your relationship with your doctor, it will prevent your medical records from being sprinkled all over your hometown’s doctors offices.

Gastroenterology Associates has been the Capital Region's larest gastroenterology practice since 1977, providing patiens with the most advanced procedures, utilizing our state-of-the-art equipment and facilities.  Our 17 expert, board-certified physicians provide the most comprehensive digestive care available with total focus on superior, compassionate patient care.  Please contact us today if you are looking for the best digestive health and care in Baton Rouge.

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

Schedule Your 2014 Health Appointments Now!

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Thu, Nov 06, 2014 @ 3:42 PM

scheduling_health_appointmentsAs the end of the year approaches, it is the ideal time to make health care appointments, either for your annual wellness physical or for treatments and services for which a deductible must be met. November and December are often the months of the year when patients and families finally meet their health insurance deductibles.  However, these two months are often the busiest with holidays, family, and travel absorbing a bulk everyone’s free time.  So, Gastroenterology Associates encourages everyone to try to get in to their health related appointments sooner rather than later. Now is an excellent time to make your gastroenterology appointments for colonoscopy, upper endoscopy for reflux, or other elective procedures.

Things to Do Once Your Deductible is Met

Virtually all health insurance plans have an annual deductible which must be paid out by the patient or family before full health insurance benefits activate.  Most insurance plans roll over in January, and the deductible “banks” reverts back to $0.  For this reason, many people seek to have more expensive, elective procedures done once the deductible has been met.

As people receive necessary medical care throughout the year, most or all of the deductible is usually met by October or November. As a result, November and December are an excellent time to get routine appointments out of the way. Appointment availability is typically best during November, because doctors travel and visit family in the month of December as well, reducing the number of available appointments.

Medical issues which could be serious or may become worse over time should not be put off for any reason and medical care should be sought regardless of having met a deductible or not. The risks and costs of putting off any necessary treatments far outweigh the savings and will likely multiply with lack of treatment.  Ignoring new symptoms can significantly impact the ability of any health care professional to care for and treat the condition casing the ailment.

However, elective procedures for problems which are not immediately pressing can be pushed to the end of the year when deductibles are met and payment for these procedures are a bit easier. Many people wait until their deductible is met to schedule several elective procedures, like:

  • Diagnostic colonoscopy
  • Upper endoscopy for reflux
  • Mammogram
  • Annual skin cancer evaluation
  • Annual physical, bloodwork, and EKG
  • Physical Therapy
  • Allergy Testing

Screening vs. Diagnostic Colonoscopy

Colonoscopy is one of the most important preventative and diagnostic procedures for detecting and treating colon cancer and other gastrointestinal conditions and diseases.  Not all colonoscopies are the same, however, in purpose, and they are billed accordingly. When it comes to costs, it is helpful to understand the distinction between diagnostic and screening colonoscopy.

A screening colonoscopy is considered preventative wherein the patient undergoes the colonoscopy in the absence of indicative signs or problematic symptoms (of which there are usually few with colon cancer).  The purpose of the screening colonoscopy is to test for colorectal cancer or polyps. The intent of the screening colonoscopy is not changed if polyps or colorectal cancer is found, and it will still be billed as a screening colonoscopy.  After the passing of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Medicare and many health insurance companies are required to cover preventative, scheduled screenings without a co-pay or deductible. 

Diagnostic colonoscopy is any colonoscopy done for the purpose of diagnosing specific signs or symptoms or for further exploration of an abnormal finding. Several of the reasons a patient might be referred for a diagnostic colonoscopy include:

  • Rectal Bleeding
  • Blood in the Stool
  • Iron Deficency Anemia with unknown cause
  • Bowel habit Changes
  • On-going and Persistant Abdominal Pain
  • Other Reasons

Biopsies may be taken or polyps are removed during this procedure and the resulting lab work is also considered diagnostic. Diagnostic colonoscopies costs aren’t waived by Medicare or third-party payors like screening tests are, and if a patient’s deductible is met, a screening colonoscopy is much more affordable.

To schedule your consultation, colonoscopy, upper endoscopy, or any other gastroenterological treatment, please contact the largest, most experienced group of gastroenterologists in Baton Rouge - Gastroenterology Associates - by clicking below and entering your information or calling (225) 927-1190.  So, schedule your 2014 health appointments now!

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, Colonoscopy, Endoscopic Procedures

Microbes & Gut Health: A Vital Relationship

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Wed, Feb 12, 2014 @ 4:01 PM

GI health and the microbiomeMicroorganisms live all over the body - on our skin, mouth, nose, teeth, and throat, as well as in the gut. The bacteria known as "normal flora" area actually quite beneficial for health - they prevent the body from being colonized by harmful microbes, and they may help the body perform important actions.

For example, microbes play a key role in digestion in general and gut health in particular. The intestines contain millions of bacteria that help break down food that our own bodies can't; without gut bacteria, overall gut health declines, causing issues like diarrhea, constipation, and gas. In addition, new research is linking a number of other medical issues to microbes.

Imbalance

In adults, there are a number of causes of poor microbial health. One of the most common issues is having an incident of food poisoning or infection, which causes diarrhea and basically "wipes out" the microbes that normally live in the gut. This issue also occurs when you take antibiotics.

A healthy gut can recolonize after such an incident, but in the meantime, you are more prone to infection and the other effects of a poor microbial balance in the gut. People with chronic inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn's disease may be especially prone to these effects.

Cutting-Edge Findings

The fact that microbes affect gut health is well-established and important, but a number of research studies have suggested that the effects of microbes on overall health may go much further. Research is still preliminary in these areas; some studies were performed only in animals, and many more studies will be needed to draw more conclusive connections.

However, the current findings suggest that gut health may be connected to many other aspects of health. Brain problems like autism, depression, and ADHD; obesity; heart disease; and more.

Treatment

There are a number of ways to improve your gut health by promoting the growth of healthy microorganisms. One of the most important things you can do is to incorporate a yogurt or other live-culture probiotic into your diet. Yogurt contains healthy bacteria that can promote gut health - just be sure that the yogurt you choose has live cultures.

There are also some cutting-edge treatments that can be used for severe microbial imbalance. For example, a stool transplant, or fecal bacteriotherapy, can be used to introduce healthy gut bacteria in people with colitis, irritable bowel disease, and C. difficile infection.

Your doctor can talk to you in more detail about how microbes may be affecting your gut health. To schedule a consultation about your gut health, please contact one of the doctors at Gastroenterology Associates at (225) 927-1190.

7 reasons for colon cancer screening

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, Gut Health

Digestive Health Center of Louisiana is now a Smoke-Free Campus

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Fri, Dec 27, 2013 @ 1:51 PM

smoke-free campus of Gastroenterology AssociatesThe Baton Rouge location of the Digestive Health Center of Louisiana (DHCLA) has expanded its smoke-free policy to cover the entire campus.  DHCLA consists of Gastroenterology Associates, the Endoscopy Center, and ONE Weigh System and is the most complete and comprehensive gastroenterology health center in the state of Louisiana. Since moving to its present location on Jefferson Highway in Baton Rouge in 2005, DHCLA has been a smoke-free building and has recently expanded that policy to the remainder of the campus, including the parking lot and outside grounds.

 

"As a major provider of health care in the community, our mission is to create a healthier environment for our patients, visitors, employees, volunteers, and everyone who visits our medical facility," said Albert Hart, Chief Executive Officer of DHCLA. "We believe that we are setting a positive example for the Baton Rouge community and the patients, employees, and visitors of the DHCLA facility by implementing the campus wide smoke-free policy."

Smoking is the leading preventable cause of disease and death in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in five deaths is related to the habit, and even for those who do not smoke, second-hand smoke can still pose a dangerous threat.  Recent studies by the American Cancer Society prove long-term cigarette smoking is also associated with a higher risk of colorectal cancer. Education and awareness are important in the implementation of any disease prevention program, and the new, campus-wide smoke-free policy is one of many efforts being made by DHCLA.

"The decision by DHCLA to expand its smoke-free policy to the entire campus adds to its already renowned reputation as a place where people go to get well," continued Mr. Hart.  DHCLA will continue to base future resolutions on its commitment to promoting good health and well-being in the greater Baton Rouge area.

About Digestive Health Center of Louisiana

The Digestive Health Center of Louisiana (DHCLA) was founded to promote and preserve the health of the Capital Region. Completed in 2005, this state-of-the-art facility brings Gastroenterology Associates and Louisiana Endoscopy Center together under one roof, creating the most complete and comprehensive gastroenterology health center in the state.  Additionally, One-Weigh System completes the enhanced medical services provided under the roof of DHCLA.  One-Weigh System provides a physician-supervised approach to weight loss and weight management utilizing health care specialists trained in the treatment of overweight individuals. Whether you are a patient, potential patient, referring doctor, or human resources professional, we appreciate the opportunity to serve you. To learn more visit us at www.dhcla.com.

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, Gut Health

How to Find the Best Gastroenterologist in Baton Rouge

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Mon, Nov 18, 2013 @ 3:43 PM

best gastroenterologist in Baton RougeA gastroenterologist is a doctor who treats disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, which includes the mouth, esophagus, stomach, the small intestine, the colon, the anus, as well as related organs such as the liver. In short, gastroenterologists prevent and treat stomach and digestive problems.

When to Seek Help


The digestive system is complex and essential, responsible for breaking down and absorbing food and liquid. This process involves the presence of the right balance of chemicals, enzymes, and bacteria; healthy, intact tissues; and a clear path through the tract. Many diseases and disorders can affect this system, from cancer to irritable bowel disease to infection.

At your routine annual physical, your primary care doctor will physically examine your abdomen, as well as ask you questions about your gastrointestinal functioning. If necessary, you may be referred to a gastroenterologist. However, it's a good idea for people to be aware of some common issues that indicate seeing a gastroenterologist is a good idea:

  • Sudden changes in bowel habits
  • Risk factors for colon cancer, such as a personal or family history
  • Over age 50
  • Persistent abdominal pain (seek emergency care for pain that is extremely sudden and severe)
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Blood in stool
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Bowel leakage
  • Poor control of bowel movements
  • Weight loss or loss of appetite
  • Heartburn
  • Esophageal pain
  • Vomiting

A single incident of common issues like heartburn, vomiting, or constipation does not warrant medical care; however, a pattern of these issues, or a single incident of more severe issues like rectal bleeding, means that seeking a specialist in gastroenterology is necessary.

Open Access Clinic

The Gastroenterology Associates operate an Open Access Clinic (OAC) which allows patients to be seen in a free evaluation, without a primary care physician referral.  Patients eligible for one of these free evaluations may be able to eliminate the pre-op appointment that is occasionally not covered by insurance.  Patients should meet the following criteria in order to be eligible for the free evaluation visit in the OAC:

  • Must be 50 years of age or have a family history of colon cancer or colon polyps
  • Must be in general good health
  • No previous colonoscopy or 5-7 years since last colonoscopy
  • If medical problems are detected during this screening visit, patients will be scheduled for an evaluation by one of our physicians

It is worth noting that the patient has the right to specify where they would like to have their procedures done.  There are many advantages to having gastroenterological procedures completed with the Gastroenterology Associates, in the state-of-the-art facilities and with all board certified or board eligible specialists in the field of gastroenterology.  Also housed in the Digestive Health Center with Gastroenterology Associates is the Louisiana Endoscopy Center, another superior facility accessible for patients and physicians.

 

Researching

It's important to find a gastroenterology doctor with the skills and resources to give you effective, comprehensive treatment and diagnosis. One of the biggest indicators of a doctor's quality is whether or not they are board-certified or board-eligible with a clean disciplinary record - that is the minimum qualification any doctor should have to be considered.

Diagnosing and treating gastrointestinal issues requires access to diagnostic equipment and outpatient surgical units. It's a good idea to look for a doctor with centralized access to these resources, because care is quicker and more effective when it is more centralized. Resources like a research division are also a good indicator of quality.

Patients should also look at the philosophy espoused by the physician and their attitude towards individual patients. There are many lifestyle changes that can be taken to improve and prevent gastrointestinal disorders, as well as screening techniques to prevent the development of serious conditions like colon cancer. Look for a doctor who demonstrates a caring interest in encouraging lifestyle changes, and who focuses on preventative care whenever possible.

To schedule a consultation with one of the best gastroenterologists in Baton Rouge, please give us a call at (225) 927-1190 or simply click here.  

We have prepared a FREE downloadable whitepaper on Why I Should Visit A Gastroenterologist?   If you are considering scheduling an appointment at one of our three locations- Baton Rouge, Zachary, or Livingston- this whitepaper may help to arm you with just a bit more information on who and why a patient would choose a gastroenterologist.

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

Gastroeneterology Associates Welcomes New Hepatology Physicians

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Mon, Aug 26, 2013 @ 1:15 PM

Hepatology Physicians in Baton RougeThe physicians of Gastroenterology Associates are pleased to welcome Dr. Luis Balart and Dr. Nathan Shores of Tulane University School of Medicine.  Drs. Balart and Shores will be providing advanced hepatology and liver disease services at the Baton Rouge location of Gastroenterology Associates.

This affiliation represents a first for the Baton Rouge community.  As a regional leader in the treatment of gastrointestinal and digestive disorders since its establishment in 1977, Gastroenterology Associates looks to continue providing the most comprehensive and complete medical care for the Baton Rouge area.  The new inclusion of hepatology services at Gastroenterology Associates will allow patients the ability to locally and more conveniently manage their digestive, nutritional, and liver health within the Baton Rouge community. 

Gastroenterologists treat conditions related to the digestive system, which includes the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and rectum. Hepatologists are physicians who treat the liver, gallbladder, biliary tree, and pancreas.  With the addition of two renowned hepatologists, further value will be added for new and existing patients in the greater Baton Rouge community with the addition of services in the diagnosis and treatment of:

•             Viral Hepatitis

•             Cirrhosis of the liver

•             Liver Transplant evaluations

•             Autoimmune Hepatitis, PBC, & Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis

•             Liver tumors

•             Fatty liver and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)

•             Polycystic liver disease

•             Other disease of the liver

•             Difficult complications of liver disease: encephalopathy, ascites, and variceal hemorrhage.  

   Luis A. Balart, MD

Section Chief, Gastroenterology & Hepatology, Tulane University School of Medicine

 Dr. Balart received his medical degree from Louisiana State University in New Orleans, LA. He completed his internship at Charity Hospital in New Orleans, LA and residency in internal medicine at the Naval Regional Medical Center in Philadelphia, PA. He completed fellowships in Gastroenterology at Ochsner Medical Institutions and in Hepatology at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

Dr. Balart is proud of his service in the Medical Corps of the United States Naval Reserve. He was president of the American College of Gastroenterology from 1999 to 2000 and also served as governor for Louisiana.  He has been active in the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases serving as chair of several committees. Dr. Balart remains very active in clinical research particularly in the treatment of chronic hepatitis C and B having been involved in many of the pivotal trials conducted over the past 25 years including the most recent trials of interferon free treatments. He has also been active in the investigation of new treatment alternatives for hepatic encephalopathy, variceal bleeding and thrombocytopenia and presented papers at national and international meetings.  Currently, he is professor of Medicine and of Surgery at Tulane University where he serves as the section Chief of Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Nathan Shores, MD

Dr. Shores is an Assistant Professor of Medicine. He did his undergraduate work at Wofford College and attended the Medical University of South Carolina for medical school where he graduated with first honors and AOA.

After completing his internal medicine residency at Duke University (Durham, NC), he was Chief fellow in gastroenterology at Wake Forest University (Winston-Salem, NC). In 2011 he completed an ACGME accredited fellowship in transplant hepatology at the University of California, San Francisco.

Dr. Shores cares for all forms of liver disease and is particularly experienced in caring for severe complications of cirrhosis as well as state of the art treatments for viral hepatitis (HBV and HCV). He prides himself on patient education and strives to work closely with patients' primary physicians.

Drs. Balart and Shores will be available to see patients at Gastroenterology Associates beginning Wednesday, August 21. For a referral, please call toll free 855-827-4884.

 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

New Pancreatic Cancer Test Developed by 15 Year Old, Jack Andraka

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Fri, Jul 05, 2013 @ 11:44 AM

From the outside, Jack Andraka looks much like any other 16 year old-pancreatic doctors baton rouge long, shaggy
 brown hair and wearing a retainer- but this 16 year old is no average high schooler.  In 2012, Jack Andraka, at age 15, won the $75,000 Intel ISEF Gordon E Moore Award for inventing a revolutionary test strip that can detect early stage pancreatic cancer.

The painful and sudden loss of a close family friend, who was like an uncle to him, prompted him to start researching pancreatic cancer.  He needed to make sense of his whole emotional struggle and loss.  The family friend found out he had pancreatic cancer then passed away six months later.  Why was the diagnosis made so late?

Andraka admits that his research would not be possible without the internet, and so, he resorted to Googling his way through the facts.  He quickly found the startling statistics on pancreatic cancer- 5.5% of patients with a pancreatic cancer diagnosis will survive 5 years.  Andraka also found that because of late detection 85% of pancreatic cancer patients will only survive 2 years.  Reasons for such poor detection rates of pancreatic cancer lie largely in the lack of symptoms or that symptoms can easily be explained away as other illnesses- like abdominal pain, fatigue, unexplained weight loss, depression, and/or loss of appetite.

Divising A Plan

Andraka needed a method of early detection that was simple, inexpensive, minimally invasive, and effective.  He had learned that the existing method of testing for pancreatic cancer was 60 years old, noting that this test’s age is so exorbitant that even his father is younger.  Andraka also found that the current “gold standard” of pancreatic testing was cost prohibitive, at nearly $800 per test.  Not surprisingly, this test was barely ever ordered because pancreatic cancer could go easily undetected until very late stage determinations were made.  Lastly, this testing method’s efficacy was quite poor, missing 30% of the diagnosis of pancreatic cancers.

The first step to creating a test for pancreatic cancer was to find a protein that is detected at higher levels in pancreatic cancer positive patients.  Of the 8,000 proteins he had to choose from, he was on the verge of giving in when around the 4,000th protein, he came upon Mesothelin.  Mesothelin is a protein that is overextracted in cases of pancreatic cancer.

The next step involved testing methods for Mesothelin.  As he sat in freshman Biology class, a particularly un-creative place according to Andraka, he began reading an article on carbon nanotubes.  Carbon nanotubes are miniscule tubes of carbon, and Andraka posited that utilizing antibodies with these nanotubes would enable detection of Mesothelin and ultimately, pancreatic cancer.

Realization To Reality

Andraka knew that he couldn’t get much further with his testing on his kitchen countertop or basement lab, and that he needed to find real lab space.  He contacted 200 researchers in an attempt to find space with their facilities.  He received 199 rejections and some of them even furthered the rejection by citing weaknesses in his hypothesis and methodical flaws.  He did, however, get a “maybe” from one professor at Johns Hopkins who offered him the chance to discuss and possibly win some lab space.  The process of interviewing with many researchers and students was grueling and quite eye opening but he managed to get in nonetheless.

His test, which started off using coffee filters, can take 1/6 a drop of blood to run, so it is minimally invasive.  The test takes 5 minutes for processing, making it 168 times faster than conventional methods.   Andraka’s test costs about $0.03 to run which is 26,000 times LESS expensive than the current “go to” testing procedure and his sensor strip is 400 times more sensitive.

Andraka has spoken at several TED events, sharing his incredible knowledge with many people. We have one of these TED talks below for your viewing.

Future Impacts

Andraka’s test is in the patent process and will not be available to markets for years, despite the numerous contacts he has had for supplies of his test strip.  The sensor strip he has developed has limitless applications because of the way it detects proteins.  There may be future tests using Andraka’s test sensor for other cancers, HIV, or for treating drug resistances. 

Seeing as how Andraka is only 16 and he has the world wide web at his research savvy fingertips, most are suspect that Jack Andraka will be impacting science in many ways in the future.  For now, his pancreatic cancer detection contribution will make an indelible mark on science and the practice of gastroenterology.

The physicians with Gastroenterology Associates do not have access to Andaka's test strip, but they are extremely knowledgable and experienced in all matters of digestive health.  If you have lingering thoughts or questions and believe that you may benefit from meeting with a doctor specializing in digestive health, we have included a whitepaper below the further explains why you may want to schedule that appointment sooner rather than later.  Our office can be contacted by clicking here.

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: Cancer, Gastroenterologists

5 Things to Consider When Choosing a Baton Rouge Gastroenterologist

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Mon, Jul 01, 2013 @ 9:15 AM

choosing a gastroenterologist

Few other factors will have as major an impact on your overall quality of life as maintaining your health and physical wellbeing.  Steps such as eating a proper diet, exercising, and keeping up with routine medical appointments all work together to keep you healthy and increase your level of happiness.  Perhaps you have already made a habit of these.  You may keep up with an exercise routine, and you may even have a physician whom you see regularly.  Yet there are times when you will need to seek out the attention of a medical specialist.  If your reason for doing so involves the esophagus, small intestine, stomach, rectum, or colon, that specialist will likely be a gastroenterologist.

The need to see a gastroenterologist can range from recommended screenings such as colonoscopies, to ailments such as GERD, and beyond.  Whatever the reason for your visit, you’ll want to take the time and care to ensure that you have chosen the doctor who will best suit your needs.  Your chosen physician should be knowledgeable, skilled, and make you feel at ease.  You should have the upmost confidence in their abilities and trust in their medical expertise.  There will be plenty of candidates to choose from, but how do you know which of these doctors is right for you? 

To help you in reaching your decision, we have put together five determining factors that should play a vital role in your search:

  1. Experience – While all gastroenterologists may have completed the same number of years in medical school and residency, some will have more experience with particular conditions and procedures than others.  If you are scheduling an appointment for a colonoscopy, for instance, you’ll want to find a doctor who has completed many throughout his or her career.  You’ll also need to ask questions about their accuracy with the procedure.  Find out how often they find polyps and how many perforations they have had.  Educating yourself about your particular procedure, as well as the standards and expectations that surround it will make your decision much easier.
  2. Reputation – All physicians have a reputation within their field.  Some will be better known than others, and this is often due to the higher quality of care that they provide.  To determine which physicians are most highly recommended, ask your friends and colleagues, search for online reviews, or ask your primary care doctor for a referral.  Practices such as Gastroenterology Associates will offer several highly qualified doctors within one practice.  Chances are, if you are asking for referrals for a gastroenterologist in the Baton Rouge area, you will hear the names of some of our physicians.
  3. Training – Find out where your potential doctor attended medical school and where they completed their residency and internship.  Learn what other facilities and physicians they have been associated with, along with any details regarding continuing education.  To have complete confidence in your doctor, you will want to find one who has not only received the highest level of education, but who has also devoted their time to keeping up with developments and changes in their field.
  4. Board Certification – A board certified doctor is one who has invested a great amount of time in their continuing education.  These physicians have undergone a rigorous process to remain up-to-date on all aspects of their specialty.  Not only do they study and complete testing to obtain their certification, but they also must take a Maintenance of Certification exam every ten years to keep their board certified status.
  5. Location – While a physician’s overall qualifications should be the primary deciding factor, location will play a big role as well.  You will want to find a doctor who is highly qualified and whose practice is easily accessible from your home or office.  If you are in or around the Baton Rouge area, Gastroenterology Associates may offer the perfect solution.  Our primary office is centrally located in Baton Rouge, and we now also have locations in Zachary and Livingston.  No matter where you are in the greater Baton Rouge area, we have an office with skilled gastroenterologists nearby.

Choosing the right gastroenterologist for your needs can be an overwhelming decision.  You want to find someone with whom you are comfortable and who is also able to offer you the highest standard of healthcare.  Taking each of the five points we have mentioned into consideration will help guide you to the physician who is best suited for your needs. 

If you would like to learn more about our doctors, please visit our Physicians page located here.  And if you are ready to schedule your appointment, please contact us by telephone at (225) 927-1190, or complete our online appointment request form. We look forward to helping you achieve your ideal level of health and wellbeing.

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: Gastroenterologists

What Are Proton Pump Inhibitors and How do They Work?

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Thu, Jun 27, 2013 @ 9:54 AM

 

 

proton pump inhibitor

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are used in the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). You may be diagnosed with GERD if you experience acid reflux more than twice a week. Proton pump inhibitors can help to reduce the symptoms of GERD and prevent complications from arising.

 

What Is GERD?

Gastroesophageal reflux occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter does not close properly, or opens at inappropriate times, allowing the contents of the stomach to rise up into the esophagus. This reflux can be very painful because the stomach acid creates a burning sensation in the soft lining of the esophagus, which you may feel as heartburn, acid indigestion, or burning in the back of the throat. Other symptoms of GERD include a dry cough, trouble swallowing, or symptoms similar to asthma.

 

Why Are PPIs Recommended For GERD?

Proton pump inhibitors reduce the production of stomach acid. This means that when the stomach contents are released into the esophagus, less irritation is caused to the delicate esophageal lining. You will experience less heartburn and burning in your throat as a result.

Repeated gastroesophageal reflux can cause damage to the esophagus, leading to inflammation, ulcers or bleeding. Proton pump inhibitors help to prevent these GERD complications by reducing the acidity of the stomach contents. If you already have damage to your esophagus due to GERD, your doctor might recommend that you take proton pump inhibitors to give your esophagus chance to heal.

 

How Do PPIs Work?

 

Gastric acid is produced by cells in the wall of the stomach. PPIs block this production by binding to enzymes in these cells to prevent them from releasing hydrogen ions (protons) into the stomach. The mechanism that produces stomach acid is known as the gastric proton pump, which is why PPIs are referred to as proton pump inhibitors.

Once you stop taking proton pump inhibitors, acid production will return to normal levels, as the deactivated enzymes are continuously replaced by new ones. A gastroenterologist can advise you about long-term options to manage GERD symptoms, which may include taking PPIs continuously, changing your diet or lifestyle, or having surgery to strengthen the valve that keeps stomach contents contained within the stomach.

 

How to Take PPIs for GERD

If your gastroenterologist prescribes PPIs to relieve GERD, he or she will give you advice on how to take them. You should follow these instructions carefully. PPIs are most effective when taken before food. If you are taking only one pill per day, you will usually be advised to take it 30 minutes before your first meal. If this dosage does not relieve your symptoms, your doctor may advise you to take another pill before your evening meal.

Some proton pump inhibitor drugs are available without prescription. However, you should speak to your health care provider before starting a new medication regime.  The team of doctors at Gastroenterology Associates has the most experienced, largest team of board certified gastroenterologists in the region. 

Specialization and board certification in gastroenterology means that your digestive health is being managed by the most aptly suited physician, and GERD or acid reflux disease should certainly be addressed by an experienced gastroenterologist.  Contact the Gastroenterology Associates via online appointment request here or by phone here to schedule an appointment and evaluation of your acid reflux symptoms for proper treatment, possibly with a PPI.

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.

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: GERD, Acid Reflux, Gastroenterologists, Proton Pump Inhibitors

7 Symptoms of Acid Reflux

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Mon, Jun 24, 2013 @ 9:52 AM

symptoms of acid reflux

Most people have experienced the symptoms of heartburn at one time or another.  Perhaps you ate too much just before bed and awoke to a burning sensation in your chest.  You may have even had some regurgitation of stomach acid into your throat and mouth.  While unpleasant, these symptoms are easily treated with antacids or home remedies for most.  It’s only an occasional occurrence and is given little thought after the discomfort passes.  However, for sufferers of acid reflux disease, these symptoms and others can become a regular occurrence. 

When heartburn becomes more persistent, occurring two or more times a week, or if it is resistant to medications, it’s time to see a specialist.  Additionally, there are several other symptoms that may suggest acid reflux disease, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).  While these symptoms may not be as disruptive as heartburn, they also point to this chronic digestive disorder and should be addressed.

1.   Bloating and Belching

Frequent swallowing is common with a sore throat or when stomach acid begins to back up into the esophagus.  This made lead to swallowing more air, a feeling of being bloated, and frequent belching.

2.   Nausea

Some individuals with GERD may not experience heartburn at all.  Rather, they may experience symptoms such as nausea and even severe chest pains.

3.   Chest Pain

Chest pain in association with GERD is caused when stomach bile enters the esophagus.  This pain can sometimes be so severe that it is mistaken for a heart attack. It is critical that chest pain is never ignored and that medical attention is sought immediately when it occurs.

4.   Coughing and Wheezing

Respiratory symptoms are somewhat common with GERD.  Irritation to the throat and even stomach acid making its way into the lungs can lead to a chronic cough or wheezing.

5.   Difficulty Swallowing

Difficulty swallowing, or dysphagia, can appear when the continuous cycle of acid reflux causes scarring and narrowing of the esophagus.  Swallowing can become painful, and sufferers may feel as though they have a lump in their throat.

6.   Sore Throat

As with chest pains or difficulty swallowing, the repeated damage to the lining of the esophagus may also cause a persistent sore throat.  This may or may not also be accompanied by hoarseness of the voice.

7.   Hiccups

Hiccups occur with involuntary spasms of the diaphragm, which separates the chest from the abdomen, and are often found in conjunction with acid reflux.

If you find that you are suffering from any of these symptoms on a regular basis, it may be time to see your physician.  Even in the absence of typical heartburn sensations, it is possible to be suffering from GERD.  A specialist such as a gastroenterologist will be able to determine if your symptoms are due to GERD and can recommend treatment options to bring relief.

If you are ready to schedule an appointment with one of the Gastroenterology Associates physicians, or you would simply like more information on this condition, please contact our office.  To learn more about GERD, you may also click the image below for our free guide.

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.

6 Reasons Not to Ignore GERD

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: GERD, Acid Reflux, Gastroenterologists, Endoscopic Procedures