Our Gastroenterology Blog
By Digestive Medicine Associates
August 14, 2018
Category: GI Care
Tags: Constipation  

Having trouble going to the bathroom? Find out what might be to blame.

Constipation is an annoying and embarrassing problem that all of us will experience at some point. Constipation is when you are unable to have a bowel movement or you have trouble passing stools. If you are having less than three bowel movements a week then you could be dealing with constipation.

This problem isn’t usually something to worry about, as it usually resolves itself on its own. Of course, there are times in which you may want to turn to a gastroenterologist for care.

What causes constipation?

This usually happens when the stool moves too slowly through the digestive tract, making it difficult to expel. Causes of constipation include:

  • Dehydration
  • Poor diet
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Anal fissures
  • Bowel stricture (narrowing of the colon)
  • Conditions that affect the nerves of the colon or rectum (e.g. stroke; Parkinson’s disease)
  • Weak pelvic muscles
  • Hormone changes due to pregnancy, diabetes, or certain thyroid disorders

There are also certain factors that can increase your chances for chronic constipation:

  • Age (older adults are more likely to experience constipation)
  • Dehydration
  • Not getting enough fiber in your diet
  • Living a sedentary lifestyle
  • Taking certain medications (e.g. antidepressants; blood pressure medications)
  • Certain mental health disorders such as depression

How can you prevent constipation?

If you deal with constipation regularly there are some ways to help lessen the chances for this problem. Make sure that you are drinking enough water throughout the day and include a lot of fiber-rich foods in your diet such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and beans. Stay away from processed foods, and make sure you are staying active.

When should I see a doctor?

It’s a good idea to give your GI doctor a call if you’ve been experiencing constipation for over 3 weeks or if lifestyle modifications such as drinking more water or adding more fiber to your diet just aren’t working. It’s also important to see a specialist as soon as possible if your constipation is accompanied by pain or if you see blood on the toilet paper (this could be a sign of hemorrhoids or an anal fissure).

 

If you are experiencing chronic or severe constipation it’s a good idea to turn to a GI specialist who will help you get to the root of the problem and help get your digestive tract moving in the right direction.

By Digestive Medicine Associates
August 01, 2018
Category: GI Care
Tags: Upper endoscopy  

This diagnostic procedure could determine the root cause of your digestive issues.

An upper endoscopy is a simple procedure in which your gastroenterologist will insert a small, flexible tube that contains a camera in the mouth and guide it carefully into the upper digestive tract (stomach and small intestines). Why is this outpatient procedure performed? Many reasons, actually. Your gastroenterologist may recommend getting this procedure if there are signs of bleeding within the upper digestive system.

An endoscopy is also a great tool for being able to detect inflammation within the digestive tract, as well as ulcers and tumors. You may benefit from an endoscopy if you are experiencing:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Chronic heartburn
  • Abdominal pain
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea and vomiting

An upper endoscopy is a much better and more accurate diagnostic tool for detecting growths and other abnormalities within the lining the digestive system than x-rays. Furthermore, many gastrointestinal issues can often be treated during the endoscopy. This includes the biopsy and/or removal of polyps, opening up narrowed areas of the esophagus or stomach, removing objects or obstructions within the intestinal tract or stopping a bleed.

Before your procedure, your gastroenterologist will give you detailed instructions to follow. This includes not eating or drinking anything for eight hours before your endoscopy. Patients with certain conditions such as a history of endocarditis (an infection of the heart valve) or those with artificial heart valves may need to take antibiotics beforehand to reduce their risk for an infection. Patients who take medications may still take their medication before the procedure with a little bit of water.

An endoscopy is performed under sedation so you won’t feel anything or remember the procedure. It’s important that you bring someone with you who will be able to drive you home afterwards, as sedation’s effects can last up to eight hours after. Prior to the procedure, a local anesthesia may be sprayed in the back of the throat to numb the area. You will then receive a combination or pain and sedation medication through an IV. Then the thin endoscope will be placed in the mouth and directed through the esophagus into the stomach. The procedure takes approximately 15-20 minutes.

 

If you are experiencing symptoms of bleeding, ulcers, or other issues within the digestive system, an endoscopy can be an amazing tool for determining what’s going on and what can be done to treat the problem.

By Digestive Medicine Associates
July 16, 2018
Category: GI Care
Tags: Ulcerative Colitis  

Ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes severe and even bloody diarrhea that can result in abdominal pain and unexpected weight loss. While people have probably heard about Crohn’s disease more often than they have ulcerative colitis, this condition actually affects as many as 907,000 of the 1.6 million Americans living with IBD.

While ulcerative colitis can happen to anyone, a gastroenterologist most often diagnoses it during a person’s later teen years or by early adulthood. While there is no definitive cause of ulcerative colitis, a family history of this condition can certainly increase your chances of developing this chronic GI problem.

Those with ulcerative colitis experience diarrhea, which can be bloody at times. Some patients may experience rectal pain, occasional constipation, abdominal discomfort, fever, or weight loss. In order to diagnose this gastrointestinal issue, a GI specialist will often need to perform imaging tests such as a CT scan or run an endoscopy to check the health of the gastrointestinal tract and to look for signs of ulcerative colitis.

While there is currently no cure for this condition, there are certainly an array of medications and treatment options available to help you keep your symptoms and flare-ups in check. The type of treatment plan that your GI doctor will create for you will depend on the type and severity of your symptoms.

The main goals of treating ulcerative colitis are to reduce inflammation within the colon while also speeding up the remission process and making sure that your symptoms stay in remission for as long as possible. Of course, it is still possible, even with the right medication, to experience symptoms.

Common medications for treating ulcerative colitis include:

  • Antibiotics: to target any infections within the GI tract
  • Aminosalicylates: to treat mild to moderate inflammation within the colon
  • Corticosteroids: for short-term treatment of moderate to severe symptoms
  • Biologics: to target a specific protein, which leads to inflammation

Sometimes, over-the-counter medications and supplements may be used in conjunction with prescription medications. These may include vitamins and nutritional supplements, pain medications and antidiarrheal. If your ulcerative colitis doesn’t respond to these medications then you’ll want to discuss the benefits with your gastroenterologist of getting surgery to remove parts of the colon or rectum to alleviate severe or persistent symptoms.

By Digestive Medicine Associates
July 09, 2018
Category: GI Care
Tags: C. Diff   C. difficile  

C. difficile (Clostridium difficile) is an infection that should be talked about more often than it is despite the fact that it infects half a million Americans each year. While C. diff bacteria can be found within the gut of healthy individuals the healthy gut bacteria work to keep the potentially harmful bacteria in check. C. diff spores can be found in our environment through the air we breathe, or even the clothes on our back or the foods we consume. This is usually how we end up with C. diff in our guts.

However, sometimes circumstances arise in which C. diff bacteria are able to multiply within the gut. This most often occurs in someone who is taking antibiotics because while antibiotics are being used to fight an infection it can also kill off some of the healthy bacteria in our gut.

Unfortunately, C. diff bacteria are resistant to many kinds of antibiotics, giving it free range to thrive and multiply quickly within the gut. These bacteria, particularly in larger numbers, can also produce toxins. It’s usually the toxins themselves that lead to symptoms such as diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, and fever.

C. diff infections can range from mild to severe. In milder cases, patients may liken their symptoms to an infection within the stomach (also known as gastroenteritis). These symptoms may be mild and self-limiting, lasting anywhere from a couple of days to multiple weeks. Usually, medication or treatment isn’t needed in order to treat the infection.

However, those dealing with severe diarrhea, blood in the stool, severe abdominal pain, fever, and dehydration should seek the care of a gastroenterologist as soon as possible. While these symptoms can be indicative of several different gastrointestinal issues, if you suspect that you might have a C. diff infection it’s important that you seek immediate medical treatment.

Since most people have C. diff within their gut, if it isn’t causing any issues then no treatment is necessary. As we mentioned before, those dealing with minor symptoms may be able to let the issue run its course. Those with severe infections may need to be hospitalized. If you are still taking the antibiotics that may have caused this problem then you will most likely need to stop taking it so that the healthy gut bacteria have a chance of returning and making the gut healthier.

Those with severe diarrhea or colitis (inflammation of the colon) may be prescribed very specific antibiotics known to kill the C. diff bacteria. In the meantime, make sure you are drinking enough water and fluids to keep your body hydrated. If diarrhea is severe, your doctor may need to give you fluids and nutrients through an IV.

Luckily, most people dealing with this infection will be able to fully recover, even if they don’t get treatment; however, those who are older or have a weak immune system should seek medical attention as soon as possible if they suspect an infection. While symptoms can be unpleasant, they will usually go away in a few weeks.

By Digestive Medicine Associates
July 06, 2018
Category: GI Care
Tags: Colonoscopy  

Getting a colonoscopy for the first time? Then you might be curious to know more about it.colonoscopy

No matter how healthy you are, at some point, you will need to get a colonoscopy, and our Miami, Hialeah, Coral Gables, and Pembroke Pines, FL gastroenterologists understand that you might have questions along the way (particularly if this is your first colonoscopy). Here are some of the most frequently answered questions about getting a colonoscopy.

Q. What is a colonoscopy?

A. A colonoscopy is an endoscopic procedure in which a thin, flexible tube with a camera at the end is carefully inserted into the rectum and guided through the colon so that our Miami, Hialeah, Coral Gables, and Pembroke Pines GI doctor can examine the large intestines for any changes or issues within the lower gastrointestinal tract.

Q. Why is a colonoscopy performed?

A. Both men and women should begin to get routine colonoscopies by the age of 50 to screen for colorectal cancer. This is the most effective tool for detecting the presence of cancer and pre-cancer.

Of course, we may also recommend getting a colonoscopy if you are dealing with intestinal symptoms that require a more in-depth evaluation to make a proper diagnosis. If you are dealing with rectal bleeding, unexpected weight loss, abdominal pain, abdominal swelling or other intestinal symptoms then a colonoscopy may be the best way to determine what’s going on.

Q. How long does a colonoscopy take?

A. The procedure itself only takes about 15 to 30 minutes to complete. Of course, it might take longer if we have to remove colon polyps. Patients are placed under sedation so they won’t feel anything during their procedure. Some patients even fall asleep and don’t remember the procedure at all.

Q. How often should I get a routine colonoscopy?

A. Healthy individuals should get their first colonoscopy by the time they turn 50 years old. If you have risk factors for colorectal cancer then you’ll want to talk to your gastroenterologist about whether you should come in for routine colonoscopies earlier. If you don’t have any risk factors and your colonoscopy results were normal then you probably won’t need a repeat screening for 10 years; however, if colon polyps are found then you may need to get screened more regularly (about every five years).

Q. What are some risk factors associated with colorectal cancer?

A. Risk factors for colorectal cancer include:

  • Inflammatory bowel disease (e.g. ulcerative colitis; Crohn’s disease)
  • A personal or family history of colorectal cancer or polyps
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Poor diet
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Smoking
  • Heavy alcohol consumption

Do you need to schedule your first colonoscopy? Do you have questions about this or other services we offer? Don’t hesitate to reach out to the caring, knowledgeable team at Digestive Medicine Associates. We offer locations in Hialeah, Coral Gables, Pembroke Pines and Miami, FL, to serve you better.

By Digestive Medicine Associates
June 18, 2018
Category: GI Care
Tags: Hemorrhoids  

Though people often make jokes about hemorrhoids, they are no laughing matter for the estimated 1 million Americans who live with themhemorrhoids each year (estimated by the Epidemiology and Impact – NIH Publication). They can be extremely painful and difficult to get rid of. Some people are forced to deal with them for a week or longer before they get any relief. They are enlarged blood vessels that bulge around the rectum and anus. Seek hemorrhoid help at Digestive Medicine Associates, LLP in Hialeah, Coral Gables, Pembroke Pines, and Miami, FL (also serving patients in Kendall, FL).

Hemorrhoids Hurt
If you ask any patient who has suffered from hemorrhoids, they’ll probably tell you that the first sign is palpable pain in the rear end. Because it happens near the rectum where there are many very sensitive nerves, the pain is almost impossible to ignore. If you work at a job that requires you to sit down for long periods of time, this condition can be particularly disruptive to your everyday life.

Other Hemorrhoid Symptoms
Besides pain, there are additional symptoms that may come with hemorrhoids, or signs that they may be developing. Here are a few things to look out for:

- Tingling sensation in the rectum area (a potential warning sign that they are forming).
- Bubble-like growth around the rectum (interior hemorrhoids may also form).
- Sharp throbbing pain in the backside.
- Inability to sit down comfortably.
- Blood in the stool (internal hemorrhoids).
- Difficulty going to the bathroom (specifically, pain when having a bowel movement).

Hemorrhoid Treatments
As hemorrhoids are often caused by straining when going to the bathroom, one of the first things you and your Hialeah, Coral Gables, Pembroke Pines, Kendall, and Miami doctor will do is resolve the reason for constipation. That may include taking digestive supplements, a dietary change, or doing a test to see if there is something interfering with normal bowel movements. Additional hemorrhoid treatment options include prescription hemorrhoid cream and surgical removal of stubborn hemorrhoids (called a hemorrhoidectomy).

Relief is Available
You don’t have to continue to experience the difficult pain of hemorrhoids anymore. See one of our gastroenterologists at Digestive Medicine Associates in Hialeah, Coral Gables, Pembroke Pines, and Miami, FL (also serving patients in Kendall, FL) for immediate help. Call (305) 822-4107 today to set an appointment.

By Digestive Medicine Associates
April 13, 2018
Category: GI Care
Tags: Colonoscopy  

What your gastroenterologist wants you to know

The right time to get a colonoscopy is if you are over 50 years old, or if you have a family history of colon cancer. There are also signs and symptoms to pay attention to which may indicate the need for a colonoscopy. You should see your gastroenterologist to schedule a colonoscopy if you have:

  • Rectal bleeding
  • Black, tarry stools which may indicate blood in your stool
  • A family history of intestinal growths or polyps
  • Chronic, recurrent constipation or diarrhea
  • Chronic, recurrent pain in your abdomen

A colonoscopy is the primary screening tool to determine if you have colorectal cancer. A colonoscopy also helps to diagnose colorectal cancer at an early stage, when it is more easily treatable. Don’t delay having a colonoscopy because the longer you wait, the more serious colorectal cancer becomes.

The American Cancer Society states that colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in this country, with over 49,000 people dying from the disease this year alone.

A colonoscopy typically requires you to be sedated. A long, ultra-thin flexible tube is inserted into your rectum and guided up through your intestines. The tube contains a camera at one end which allows your gastroenterologist to view your colon, remove polyps or take a small sample of tissue for biopsy.

When you come in for your colonoscopy, be sure to bring a driver with you to take you home, and plan on spending 2 to 3 hours in the office. The procedure takes about 45 minutes, and additional time is required for you to recover from sedation.

Remember that early diagnosis is made possible by having a colonoscopy and that early diagnosis is critical to start early treatment. You don’t want to be a cancer statistic, so if you are over 50 or have a family history of colon cancer, take the time to schedule your colonoscopy. Protect your health by calling today!

By Digestive Medicine Associates
April 03, 2018
Category: GI Care

People in commercials love to talk about diarrhea and constipation, but in real life, the subjects are rarely discussed, even though they affect us all. Understanding what causes the conditions may help you avoid them.

What causes diarrhea?

Diarrhea occurs when your stools are loose, runny or completely watery. Although occasional diarrhea won't harm your health, frequent diarrhea can lead to dehydration. The condition is often caused by viruses or bacterial infections. Washing your hands frequently, particularly after touching raw foods, and cooking food completely can help reduce your chance of developing diarrhea. If you know a friend or family member is sick or has diarrhea, don't share utensils or glasses with them.

Diarrhea can also occur due to stomach irritation caused by taking antibiotics or by an intolerance to certain foods. Lactose intolerance, a condition that occurs when you have difficulty digesting sugars found in dairy products, is a common cause of diarrhea. If you've ever had to dash to the restroom after eating ice cream or pasta covered in creamy Alfredo sauce, you might have lactose intolerance.

Some health conditions can also cause diarrhea, including diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, hyperthyroidism, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic pancreatitis and Addison's disease.

What causes constipation?

If you're constipated, it may be difficult or impossible to pass stools. Even if your trip to the restroom is successful, the stools you produce may be small and hard. Diet can play a part in constipation. Reducing your intake of dairy products, caffeine, alcohol and junk food can be helpful.

Resisting the urge to defecate can lead to constipation. If you're at work and decide to ignore the urge to go, you may not be able to produce any stools when you finally get home. Constipation can also occur if you change your diet or normal routine, don't exercise regularly or eat foods that aren't usually part of your diet when you're away from home.

Some health conditions can also cause constipation, including

  • Diabetes
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Pregnancy
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Lupus

Occasional bouts of diarrhea and constipation are usually nothing to worry about, particularly if they accompany an illness. If you're frequently constipated or experience diarrhea often, it's a good idea to make an appointment with a gastroenterologist, a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating conditions and diseases of the gastrointestinal system.

By Digestive Medicine Associates
March 14, 2018
Category: GI Care
Tags: Carcinoid Tumors  

Cancerous carcinoid tumors form in the lining of your gastrointestinal tract and can be caused by certain digestive conditions. The rare tumors are often treated with surgery and medications.

What are carcinoid tumors?

Carcinoid tumors develop when a mutation occurs in the neuroendocrine cells in your digestive system. The dual-purpose cells have both nerve and endocrine features and are capable of producing hormones. Over time, the cancerous cells gradually take over healthy cells and form a tumor. Carcinoid tumors tend to form in the colon, stomach, small intestine or rectum.

Who gets carcinoid tumors?

If anyone in your family has had multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 syndrome (MEN1) or neurofibromatosis type 1 syndrome (NF1), you may be at greater risk of developing a carcinoid tumor. Your risk also rises if you have Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, pernicious anemia or atrophic gastritis. Older people and women are more likely to develop carcinoid tumors.

What are the symptoms of carcinoid tumors?

There are often no symptoms when a carcinoid tumor is small. In fact, you may only learn that you have a tumor after undergoing a routine colonoscopy or another diagnostic test. Symptoms may occur if the tumor secretes hormones or grows larger. Symptoms depend on the location of the tumor, but may include:

  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Heartburn
  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Rectal pain
  • Stool color changes or blood in the stool
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal pain

How are carcinoid tumors treated?

Surgery is used to remove all or as much of the tumor as possible. Medications may also be helpful. Depending on your condition, your gastroenterologist may recommend interferon injections that enhance the immune system's ability to attack the tumor or medications that prevent the tumor from releasing hormones.

If your carcinoid tumor has spread to your liver, your gastroenterologist can offer several other treatment options, including cryoablation (freezing) or radiofrequency (heat) treatments to kill the cancer cells. Removing part of the liver during a surgical procedure may be helpful, as can closing off the hepatic artery that feeds the tumor.

Although most gastrointestinal symptoms aren't caused by cancer, it's important to see your gastroenterologist if you experience frequent heartburn, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, bloating or other symptoms.

By Digestive Medicine Associates
March 02, 2018
Category: GI Condition
Tags: Ulcerative Colitis  

Ulcerative colitis, a type of inflammatory bowel disease, causes painful open sores in your large intestine and rectum. The disease can affect both children and adults. Although there is currently no cure for ulcerative colitis, symptoms can be managed with medications and dietary changes in many cases.

What are the symptoms of ulcerative colitis?

Although symptoms of ulcerative colitis vary depending on the severity of the disease, diarrhea that contains blood or pus is a frequent problem. It may be difficult to get the bathroom in time, particularly if a bout of diarrhea strikes in the middle of the night. Other symptoms can include:

  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal cramping and pain
  • Fever
  • Joint pain
  • Dehydration
  • Weight loss
  • Canker sores
  • Anemia
  • Rectal pain
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty defecating

If you have severe ulcerative colitis, you may be more likely to develop one or more serious complications, such as severe dehydration or bleeding, a perforated colon, osteoporosis, megacolon, blood clots or colon cancer.

What are the risk factors for ulcerative colitis?

Ulcerative colitis symptoms usually appear between the ages of 15 and 35. You're more likely to develop ulcerative colitis if other people in your family have it. Your ancestry may also affect your risk. Caucasians and people of Ashkenazi Jewish descent get the disease more often than other ethnic groups.

How is ulcerative colitis treated?

Medications that relieve inflammation and suppress your immune system can be helpful if you have ulcerative colitis. Corticosteroids may also reduce inflammation and bring about a remission of symptoms. Because prolonged use of corticosteroids can cause high blood pressure, diabetes and osteoporosis, they're only recommended for short-term use. Anti-diarrheal medications can reduce the frequency of diarrhea, while iron supplements may prevent anemia caused by bleeding.

Approximately 25 to 40 percent of people who have ulcerative colitis will eventually need surgery to remove the colon, according to the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation. In some cases, your surgeon may be able to connect to your small intestine to your anus, which will allow you to defecate normally. If that's not possible, a bag attached to the abdomen will be used to collect stool.

Ulcerative colitis is a serious inflammatory bowel disease, but it's symptoms can often be managed with medication, dietary changes and stress relief techniques, allowing you to live a fairly normal life.

By Digestive Medicine Associates
February 16, 2018
Category: GI Condition
Tags: Diverticulitis  

Diverticulitis is a condition in which small pouches or sacs called diverticula form in the large intestine, or colon, and become inflamed. When the sacs are inflamed, they can bulge outward and cause abdominal pain and discomfort. In addition to abdominal pain, several other symptoms can be associated with diverticulitis. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms associated with this condition, see a gastroenterologist for a diagnosis and possible treatment options.

Symptoms & Causes

The exact cause of diverticulitis is unclear. However, there seems to be a link between a diet too low in fiber and the development of diverticulitis. When fiber is lacking in the diet, the colon works harder to move stools through the intestinal tract. It is possible that the pressure from the increased effort to move the stool can lead to the formation of diverticula along the interior of the color or large intestine. Maintaining a diet with sufficient fiber intake can potentially help prevent diverticulitis.

Various symptoms can be associated with diverticulitis. Abdominal pain is a common symptom and tends to be felt primarily on the left side. Other symptoms associated with diverticulitis include:

  • fever
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • chills
  • abdominal pain
  • cramping
  • constipation
  • bloating

Treatment

A variety of options are available for treating diverticulitis. For less severe cases, a combination of antibiotics, pain relievers and a liquid diet can be sufficient to resolve the diverticulitis. More serious cases of diverticulitis in which patients cannot drink liquids can require a hospital stay. While in the hospital, all nutrition will be obtained intravenously. Avoiding eating and drinking by mouth gives the bowel time to rest and recover and can help clear up the diverticulitis. If the condition is still severe, surgery might be required.

Diverticulitis can result in a lot of pain and discomfort. Fortunately, there are treatments that can provide relief. See a gastroenterologist for diagnosis and a treatment plan.

By Digestive Medicine Associates
February 02, 2018
Category: GI Care
Tags: Hemorrhoids  

Many people develop hemorrhoids at some point, particularly between the ages of 45-65. Hemorrhoids are typically associated with pain, discomfort, itching and irritation around the anus. They can also result in pain and discomfort during bowel movements. As uncomfortable as hemorrhoids can be, there are treatments that can help. See a gastroenterologist if you suspect you might have hemorrhoids. If a gastroenterologist determines you do have hemorrhoids, an appropriate treatment can be prescribed to ease the pain and discomfort.

Causes

The exact cause of hemorrhoids is not necessarily known, but several factors or conditions do seem to increase the likelihood of development hemorrhoids. Factors associated with an increased risk for development hemorrhoids include:

  • Family history of hemorrhoids
  • Pregnancy
  • Chronic constipation
  • Sitting for extended periods
  • Straining during bowel movements

Treatment

Hemorrhoids often go away on their own, even without treatment. However, there are various options to ease the pain and discomfort of hemorrhoids. A gastroenterologist might recommend a variety of methods for easing the pain at home. These include taking over-the-counter pain relievers, and fiber supplements for softening stools. Other things that can help provide relief include soaking in a warm bath and applying a cold compress to the anus to reduce swelling.

In addition to at home remedies for alleviating the pain and discomfort of hemorrhoids, there are medical procedures a gastroenterologist can perform to reduce the size of the hemorrhoids. Two popular procedures for treating hemorrhoids include a rubber band ligation and injection therapy. These procedures can be performed if other treatments and remedies have not provided substantial relief.

When struggling with hemorrhoids, the itching, irritation, pain and discomfort can interfere with your quality of life. Fortunately, there are treatments that can provide relief and even reduce the size of the hemorrhoids. See a gastroenterologist for the treatment of your hemorrhoids.

By Digestive Medicine Associates
January 15, 2018
Category: GI Condition
Tags: Acute Pancreatitis  

Acute pancreatitis strikes suddenly, causing severe pain and vomiting. More than 300,000 people are admitted to U.S. hospitals every year due to acute pancreatitis, according to The National Pancreas Foundation.

What causes acute pancreatitis?

If you have gallstones, you may be at increased risk of developing acute pancreatitis. The condition can occur when stones get stuck in the common bile duct and prevent pancreatic fluids from flowing freely. Stones can also force bile to flow back into the pancreas, which may damage it.

You may also develop acute pancreatitis if your calcium or triglyceride levels are very high, or you have an autoimmune disorder, infection, an overactive parathyroid gland, cystic fibrosis or regularly take certain medications. High alcohol consumption can cause pancreatitis, particularly if you've been a heavy drinker for years. In some cases, the cause of acute pancreatitis can't be determined.

What are the symptoms of acute pancreatitis?

Pain from acute pancreatitis is felt in the upper part of the abdomen, although it can extend to your back. The pain may be mild at first, but may become severe and constant and may worsen after you eat or drink alcohol. Other symptoms include fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and a rapid pulse. Prompt treatment is essential if you experience any of these symptoms. The condition can cause bleeding, infections and may even damage your kidneys, lungs and heart if the attack is severe. Although most people recover from acute pancreatitis, the condition can be life-threatening.

How is acute pancreatitis treated?

If your condition is caused by gallstones, you'll need surgery to remove the stones. In some cases, surgery may also be needed to keep your bile ducts open. If you're admitted to the hospital, you'll be given fluids to prevent dehydration caused by vomiting and diarrhea and may receive medication for nausea and pain. Foods and beverages are usually stopped for one to two days after you're admitted to the hospital.

Changing your medications, avoiding alcohol and addressing the causes of high triglyceride or calcium levels may help prevent further bouts of acute pancreatitis. If you have numerous attacks of acute pancreatitis or continue to drink alcohol, the condition can become chronic.

Although it's not always possible to prevent acute pancreatitis, you can reduce your risk by exercising regularly, following a healthy diet and avoiding heavy consumption of alcohol.

By Digestive Medicine Associates
January 02, 2018
Category: GI Care
Tags: Endoscopy  

Gastroenterologists are concerned with conditions that affect the stomach, intestinal tract, colon and other organs involved in digestion and waste elimination. These conditions include certain types of cancer, biliary tract disease, ulcers and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. The test that checks for these potential health issues is called an endoscopy. There are several different endoscopic procedures that allow your doctor to check the digestive system, including a colonoscopy, enteroscopy and an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy. Find out more about getting an endoscopy and whether it’s time for you to have this test.

What Is an Endoscopy?
During an endoscopy, a long tube is inserted into an orifice (usually the mouth or anus) to look at the organs of the body. The tube, called an endoscope, has a camera that allows your doctor to view the targeted area. In the case of a colonoscopy, the endoscope is inserted into the rectum and provides a visual of your colon and intestines. An enteroscopy views the small intestine and an upper GI endoscopy looks at the parts of your upper intestinal tract, including the esophagus.

What Does an Endoscopy Detect?
An endoscopy can detect polyps (benign and precancerous) as well as cancerous tumors. It can also identify the presence of ulcers, inflammation and other damage to the wall of the intestines or stomach. An upper GI endoscopy can determine the cause of heartburn, chest pain and problems swallowing your food. In some cases, polyps or objects can be removed during the procedure or tissue samples may be taken. A stent can also be inserted in restricted areas of the stomach, esophagus or intestinal tract.

Do You Need this Test?
Here are a few indications that you should see your gastroenterologist soon for an endoscopy:

  • You have intense pain in the abdomen or have been diagnosed with digestive problems
  • You have severe acid reflux or chronic heartburn
  • You feel as if there is some type of blockage in your intestinal tract (such as long-term constipation)
  • There’s blood in the stool
  • There’s a family history of colon cancer
  • You’re over the age of 50

See Your Gastroenterologist
An endoscopy is not a test that you want to delay long if you’re concerned about your stomach, colon and digestive health. Call a gastroenterologist in your area to schedule an initial consultation and exam today.

By Digestive Medicine Associates
December 13, 2017
Category: GI Care

Gastroenterologists, also called GI doctors, are concerned with a wide array of issues involving the digestive system. One concern for gastroenterologists is precancerous polyps in the colon, rectum and other areas of the intestinal tract. It’s wise to be informed about polyps and how they may affect your gastroenterological and overall health.

What Are Precancerous Polyps?
A polyp is a small, fleshy nodule that forms on the inside of the intestines or colon. It is considered an abnormal growth, but in many cases, they are found to be benign (commonly in the early stages). However, over time polyps can become large and malignant if they aren’t treated. Many polyps are found to be pre-cancerous, which means they have the potential to turn cancerous if they aren’t removed. With early detection through an endoscopic test, the risk can be eliminated by your gastroenterologist.

What Are the Potential Causes?
Doctors aren’t definitively sure what causes polyps to form, but there are a number of theories. Here are a few:

  • Heredity (a family history of colon or intestinal problems) or certain hereditary conditions
  • Poor diet or lack of nutrition
  • Lack of exercise and regular physical activity
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Diagnosis of ulcerative or Crohn’s colitis
  • The natural aging process for some patients (which is why regular exams are recommended after age 50)

What to Do About Them
The good news is that precancerous polyps can usually be quickly and effectively treated by your gastroenterologist. They are diagnosed through an exam called a virtual colonoscopy. A tube called a fiber-optic scope is inserted into the rectum that can identify the presence of a polyp and take a sample for a biopsy. If it is precancerous, your GI doctor can remove the polyp at another colonoscopy appointment. You should make this polyp removal appointment a priority.

Make an Appointment with a Gastroenterologist
The health of your digestive and elimination system is crucial to your overall health. Whether you’re in need of an initial endoscopic test to check for polyps or you’ve already been diagnosed with a precancerous polyp, call a gastroenterologist in your area for an appointment.

By Digestive Medicine Associates
December 06, 2017
Category: GI Care
Tags: Gastroenterology  

When it comes to matters involving your digestive tract, stomach, and colon, a gastroenterologist is the doctor to consult with. GI specialists also help patients with matters involving the pancreas, gallbladder, liver and other organs involved in the elimination of waste. Here are some of the most common frequently asked questions that patients have for gastroenterologists.

What Does a Gastroenterologist Do?
A gastroenterologist is tasked with studying, managing and treating disorders involving the gastrointestinal tract. They diagnose potential problems that stand in the way of your body’s ability to comfortably and easily digest food, move it through the body and get rid of waste. It’s important that your gastrointestinal system is healthy so that your body absorbs the nutrition it needs for energy and vitality. GI doctors undergo rigorous training in this specialized area of medicine for five or six years after medical school.

What Tests Are Needed?
There are a number of tests that a gastroenterologist may recommend depending on your digestive concerns. Here are a few of the most common ones:

  • Colonoscopy (checks rectum, colon, and intestinal tract)
  • Upper GI endoscopy (checks esophagus and upper gastro system)
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy (similar to a colonoscopy, but only examines a portion of the colon)
  • Endoscopic or abdominal ultrasound
  • Abdominal Angiogram
  • CT enterography

What Treatments Are Administered?
If a problem is identified in the gastrointestinal tract or system, there are a number of possible solutions your GI doctor may explore:

  • Polyp removal (done with an endoscope)
  • Esophageal, colonic, duodenal or bile duct stent placement (allows the comfortable passage of bodily fluids, solids, and waste)
  • Cecostomy (clears bowels)
  • Surgical procedures (such as bowel surgery, appendectomy, colostomy, proctectomy, gastric bypass surgery, etc)

Ask More Questions at Your Initial Appointment
Whatever specific questions you may have for a gastroenterologist, they are best addressed at your first visit. You should make this important appointment when recommended by your primary physician or when you have symptoms of a GI problem (bleeding, chronic constipation or diarrhea, heartburn and similar concerns), Call a gastroenterologist in your area to schedule a consultation today.

By Digestive Medicine Associates
December 06, 2017
Category: Welcome Blog
Tags: Gastroenterology  

Welcome to the Blog of Digestive Medicine Associates

Digestive Medicine Associates would like to welcome you to our blog. Here you will find informative and useful postings about gastroenterology and our practice.

At Digestive Medicine Associates we believe that educated patients are better prepared to make decisions regarding the health of their digestive system.  Our blog was designed to provide you with the latest gastroenterology developments and valuable health advice from our dedicated team. 

Digestive Medicine Associates hopes you find our blog to be a great resource for keeping up to date with proper digestive health care and treatments.

We welcome all comments and questions.

-- Digestive Medicine Associates





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