Posts for category: Digestive Health
Constipation is defined as having fewer than three bowel movements a week. Chronic constipation occurs when symptoms continue for more than a few weeks. Some of the causes of chronic constipation include,
- Poor diet or a low-fiber diet
- Sedentary lifestyle (aka lack of physical activity)
- Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
- Bowel obstructions
- High levels of calcium in the bloodstream (hypercalcemia)
- Certain medications (e.g., diuretics; opioids; tricyclic antidepressants)
The first step you should take is to change your diet and lifestyle to see if that helps your bowel movements. If constipation does not improve then it’s time to see your doctor. Make sure to write down any other symptoms you may be experiencing along with constipation such as abdominal pain, fatigue, unexpected weight loss, or hair loss. We will go through the medications you’re taking and decide whether we should run blood tests to rule out certain health problems such as diabetes or thyroid function.
In some cases, a gastroenterologist may recommend a colonoscopy, which allows your doctor to be able to better examine the colon and large intestines to look for obstructions, bleeds, ulcers, inflammation, irritable bowel disease, or other possible causes of constipation.
Most patients can improve their constipation issues through simple dietary and lifestyle changes, or through over-the-counter products; however, if you still don’t get relief, our gastroenterologist may recommend a prescription-strength medication that can help with chronic constipation.
If chronic constipation is caused by an underlying health problem such as diabetes or hypothyroidism you must get the proper medication and treatment you need from your doctor. By getting these health problems under control we can also alleviate your gastrointestinal symptoms.
A colonoscopy from your gastroenterologists in Hialeah, Coral Gables, Pembroke Pines, and Miami, FL, can protect your health.
Have you had a colonoscopy? No one really talks much about a colonoscopy, but the truth is, this simple procedure can save your life. A colonoscopy is the most effective way to detect colon cancer, which is the third most common cause of cancer-related death in this country.
The doctors at Digestive Medicine Associates offer a wide range of gastroenterology services, including colonoscopy procedures to protect your health. They have convenient office locations in Hialeah, Coral Gables, Pembroke Pines, and Miami, FL.
You should have a colonoscopy if you are:
- 50 years or older
- Experiencing chronic constipation or diarrhea
- Having pain in your abdomen that doesn’t go away
- Experiencing rectal bleeding
- Having tarry or black stools
A colonoscopy uses a thin, flexible tube that has a camera on one end. The tube is inserted in the rectum and guided up through your colon. During your procedure, your gastroenterologist can view the walls of your colon, looking for polyps or abnormal tissue.
The colonoscope allows your doctor to remove small samples of tissue, which may be biopsied to determine if the tissue is precancerous or cancerous. A colonoscopy takes about 45 minutes, and you will be sedated throughout the procedure. You should plan on a recovery period in the office of 2 to 3 hours, and you must bring a driver with you to help you get home.
A colonoscopy can save your life and help prevent colon cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 49,000 people die each year from colon cancer. You don’t want to be one of them, and having a colonoscopy can help.
To find out more about how a colonoscopy can benefit you, ask the doctors at Digestive Medicine Associates by calling (305) 822-4107. You can visit them at one of four office locations in Hialeah, Coral Gables, Pembroke Pines, and Miami, FL, so call today!
Irritable bowel syndrome can cause chronic abdominal discomfort, constipation, diarrhea, and other symptoms. Also referred to as IBS, this condition affects the large intestine, which is commonly known as the colon. If you frequently experience abdominal discomfort or related symptoms, see one of the experienced gastroenterologists at Digestive Medicine Associates in Miami to find out if you have irritable bowel syndrome.
Symptoms of IBS
Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is associated with a variety of gastrointestinal symptoms, such as a recurring urgent need to have a bowel movement. Other common symptoms of IBS include:
- Blood or mucus in stools
- Abdominal pain or cramping
The exact cause of IBS is not known, but it is believed to affect as many as 60 million adult Americans. Additionally, women tend to develop the condition more than men. At our gastroenterology practice in Miami, irritable bowel syndrome can be formally diagnosed by conducting various tests, such as blood work, stool sample testing, x-rays, a colonoscopy, or a sigmoidoscopy.
Treatments for IBS
Several effective methods are available for treating the symptoms of IBS. Common treatment options include medications and probiotics. Both help provides relief from IBS symptoms by improving digestion. Stress management techniques can also help as stress has a tendency to aggravate the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Keeping stress levels low can help minimize the symptoms of IBS.
Dietary changes can also have a positive impact on reducing the symptoms of IBS. For instance, eliminating dairy, beans, alcohol, and other types of foods or beverages from the diet that are known to aggravate the condition can help reduce symptoms. Adding more fiber to the diet can help by preventing constipation. Another dietary change that is beneficial is eating smaller meals, which can lessen symptoms and make digestion easier. Our knowledgeable gastroenterologists can make special dietary recommendations that can help ease or reduce your specific symptoms.
Irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic condition that can periodically cause gastrointestinal pain and discomfort. For help achieving relief from the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, call Digestive Medicine Associates in Miami at (305) 822-4107 to schedule an appointment with one of our skilled gastroenterologists.
The two main types of inflammatory bowel diseases are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Both diseases cause inflammation within the gastrointestinal tract. This chronic inflammation can also cause ulcers to develop within the intestinal lining. Crohn’s disease most often affects the small intestines while ulcerative colitis typically affects the lower part of the large intestines.
Some people have Crohn’s disease but don’t know it because they don’t experience symptoms right away. In fact, for years someone may deal with abdominal cramping or diarrhea without realizing that this could be a sign of an IBD. More serious symptoms of Crohn’s disease include,
- Stomach cramping and pain
- Bloody stools
- Sudden weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Diarrhea or bloody stools
- Widespread inflammation that may also result in fever, canker sores, and skin rashes
Those with ulcerative colitis may experience flare-ups of,
- Increased frequency of bowel movements
- Chronic diarrhea
- Rectal bleeding
- Bloody stools
- Abdominal pain
- Skin rashes
- Decreased appetite
You must see a qualified GI doctor if you suspect that you might have IBD. Your doctor will provide you with a comprehensive treatment plan that may include,
- Prescription anti-inflammatory medications such as steroids
- Lifestyle changes such as dietary modifications, exercise, and staying hydrated
- Supplementation and vitamins
- Surgery (may be necessary to remove part of the intestines, colon, or rectum for those with severe cases of Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis)
What causes chronic diarrhea?
There are a variety of disorders, diseases, and even everyday habits that could be leading to your chronic diarrhea, which is why it’s a good idea to see a gastroenterologist who specializes in diagnosing and treating conditions of the digestive tract. Information that we garner from your initial evaluation (e.g. a family history of irritable bowel syndrome) can help us determine which tests to run.
Along with a physical examination, a gastroenterologist may also perform a blood test and stool sample to look for infections or signs of inflammation. A stool sample may be able to tell us whether your chronic diarrhea is being caused by:
- Ulcerative colitis
- Crohn’s disease
- Gastrointestinal bleeding
- Bacterial, fungal, and parasitic infections
- Certain medications (e.g. antacids; laxatives)
- Gluten intolerance and Celiac disease
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Certain chronic or preexisting conditions (e.g. diabetes; thyroid disorders)
- Immune dysfunction
- Hereditary disorders (e.g. cystic fibrosis)
- Past surgeries of the digestive tract
If nothing is revealed in these diagnostic tests, it is possible that your chronic diarrhea could be caused by irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). While there is no cure for IBS, there are simple lifestyle changes you can make, particularly to your diet, which can reduce symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, and bloating.
A gastroenterologist is going to be the specialist you need to get chronic diarrhea, severe bloating, and abdominal pain under control. We know how frustrating chronic diarrhea can be, but we can give you the answers and treatment you’re looking for.
If you’re not celiac, you don’t need to say goodbye to gluten forever
There are more and more health experts talking about the problems with gluten, so if you are an otherwise healthy individual who doesn’t have celiac but is curious about making the switch, then know that you don’t have to avoid gluten or that trace amounts aren’t going to hurt you. However, if you are concerned that you might have celiac or gluten intolerance you must see a doctor.
You can still enjoy some grains
Most people assume that once they go gluten-free that all grains are literally off the table! While you will need to avoid wheat (and derivatives of wheat such as semolina and farro), rye, barley, malt, and wheat starch you can still enjoy these delicious, gluten-free grains,
- Oats (make sure there is a gluten-free label on the packaging)
- Brown rice
If you are trying to go gluten-free because you think that it might help you lose weight, then you may want to consult a medical professional. A gluten-free diet simply helps those who are gluten intolerant and those with celiac avoid an ingredient that could harm or damage their gut. If you are simply trying a gluten-free diet to lose weight this may not be the best method. Talk to your doctor first.
It takes time to notice changes
If you have celiac disease then sticking with a gluten-free diet is a must, as even the smallest amount of gluten can cause serious damage to the gut. As your gut heals you will notice a marked improvement, which will continue for days, months, and even years. This can vary from person to person, with some people noticing a change within just a few days while it may take other individuals months or even years.
You must see a gastroenterologist if you are experiencing symptoms of celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Your doctor can provide you with a customized treatment plan to help you and your gut get the proper relief.