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Posts for category: Gastroenterology Conditions

By Gastroenterology and Nutrition Clinics PC
February 19, 2021
Tags: Anal Fissure   Anal Fistula  
What Is an Anal Fistula
The inside of the anus is lined with small glands. These glands can be infected when the mucus they secrete gets blocked. This leads to an abscess. Unfortunately, if the abscess isn’t treated it can often form a fistula. A fistula is a tunnel that connects the skin around the anus with an infected gland inside the rectum. If you are dealing with pain and swelling around the anus, a fistula could be to blame. Since anal pain and swelling can be caused by a variety of things, ranging from benign to more serious, it’s a good idea to see a gastroenterologist for an evaluation.

What are the signs and symptoms of a fistula?

The most common symptoms are pain, swelling, and redness around the anus. Of course, everything from a tear in the tissue to hemorrhoids can also cause similar symptoms, so it’s not always easy to spot the difference. This is why you should always consult a gastroenterologist for a proper diagnosis.

If you have a fistula, you may also notice these symptoms,
  • Pain with bowel movements (and sometimes urination)
  • Bleeding
  • Fever
  • Liquid draining from the anus
If you are experiencing these symptoms, it’s time to see your gastroenterologist.

How is an anal fissure diagnosed?

Some anal fissures can be spotted through a simple rectal exam; however, this isn’t always the case. If so, your gastroenterologist may recommend imaging tests such as a CT scan or a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy is a diagnostic procedure that allows your doctor to examine the lining of the rectum and colon to spot bleeds, ulcers, and other problems.

How are fistulas treated?

The only way to treat a fistula is with surgery, which is typically performed in your gastroenterologist’s office. Several surgical strategies can be used, depending on whether you have a simple or more complicated fistula. Simple fistulas can be removed through excision, while complicated fistulas may require a tube to drain the fluid for several weeks. This is something that your doctor will talk with you about once you’ve come in for an evaluation.

Whether you are experiencing symptoms of a fistula or you are noticing changes in bowel habits that have you concerned, a gastroenterologist is an ideal doctor to turn to for answers. Call your gastroenterologist today to discuss your symptoms and find out if you should come into the office for care.
By Gastroenterology and Nutrition Clinics PC
January 28, 2021
Tags: Gallstones  
Everything To Know About GallstonesWhen was the last time you thought about your gallbladder? Probably never, right? Well, this little organ that you haven’t thought much about is responsible for releasing bile to help break down food and aid in digestion. If you aren’t dealing with gut problems then you may not even think twice about your gallbladder; however, if your gastroenterologist has told you that you suffer from gallstones, here’s what you should know.

What are the signs of gallstones?

Some people have gallstones but don’t even know it; however, the most common symptoms associated with gallstones are indigestion, nausea, and vomiting. If you have a gallbladder attack, you may experience pain in the upper right or middle of your abdomen below the rib cage. This pain can last for several hours and may be severe.

What are some risk factors for gallstones?

While we still don’t know the exact cause of gallstones, certain risk factors can increase the likelihood of dealing with gallstones at some point during your lifetime. Apart from being a woman, here are some other risk factors,
  • Being over age 40
  • Being obese
  • Heavy alcohol consumption
  • Smoking
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • A poor diet that is high in fat
  • Being diabetic
  • Being pregnant
  • High cholesterol
  • Family history of gallstones
Is there a way to prevent gallstones in the future?

While we can’t guarantee that you’ll never have gallstones again, making certain lifestyle changes have proven effective for reducing or getting rid of a gallbladder attack. Talk with your gastroenterologist about ways to improve your lifestyle (e.g. losing excess weight; eating a healthier diet; avoiding alcohol) to lower your risk for gallstones.
 
How are gallstones treated?

If you aren’t experiencing any symptoms, then you probably won’t require treatment; however, if you continue to have gallbladder attacks you may want to talk with your gastroenterologist about having your gallbladder removed. Your gallbladder can be removed without it affecting your health or quality of life.

If you would like to avoid surgery your gastroenterologist may recommend a certain medication that can help to break up these stones. This medication can also prevent new gallstones from forming. Sometimes this medication is used along with a soundwave procedure known as lithotripsy, which helps to breakdown gallstones so that they can pass more easily.

If you are experiencing symptoms of gallstones or signs of a dysfunctional gallbladder, you must have a gastroenterologist that you can turn to for immediate care. A gastroenterologist will easily be able to determine what’s causing your digestive issues and provide you with an effective solution.
By Gastroenterology and Nutrition Clinics PC
December 24, 2020
Tags: Anal Fissure  
What Is an Anal FissureDo you notice spots of bright red blood when you wipe? Do you experience anal itching? If so, these could be signs of an anal fissure. The lining of the anus is delicate and has the ability to tear, especially when straining or dealing with constipation. This is so common that gastroenterologists often see more patients presenting with anal fissures than hemorrhoids.
 
What can cause an anal fissure?
If you’ve ever had an anal fissure before you know just how uncomfortable they can be. By knowing what causes an anal fissure you may also be able to prevent one from happening in the future. A fissure typically results from trauma to the anus caused by,
  • Constipation
  • Passing hard stools or straining during a bowel movement
  • Persistent or recurring diarrhea
  • Childbirth
  • Anal intercourse
  • Crohn’s disease
How do I know that I have an anal fissure?

You may be dealing with an anal fissure if you notice pain with a bowel movement. The pain can be quite sharp and intense, and you may even experience burning or pain for hours after. Other symptoms include anal itching and drops of blood when wiping (typically bright red blood). If you notice black or dark stools, this is a sign of internal bleeding and it’s important to see a gastroenterologist right away.
 
How is an anal fissure treated?

Most fissures will heal on their own with proper care. There are things you can do to help promote healing. These include,
  • Staying hydrated and drinking lots of fluids
  • Getting daily exercise
  • Consuming a high-fiber diet
  • Avoiding straining with a bowel moment
  • Go to the bathroom when you need to (do not hold it in)
  • Relax in a Sitz bath
  • Use baby wipes rather than toilet paper (which may be too dry and rough) after a bowel movement
  • Sometimes, stool softeners and fiber supplements can be helpful
The majority of anal fissures will heal by themselves; however, if you’ve been dealing with this problem for more than eight weeks then it’s time to see a gastroenterologist for treatment. There are specific prescription creams or medications that can be used to help treat the fissure. In rare cases, surgery is needed.
 
If you are experiencing rectal bleeding or pain you must turn to a gastroenterologist to find out what’s going on, as these can also be symptoms of other more serious digestive and intestinal issues.
By Gastroenterology and Nutrition Clinics PC
November 18, 2020
Tags: C. Diff   C. Diff Infection  
What Is C. DiffDid you know that the gut houses about 100 trillion bacteria? Of course, these microbes can affect everything from your intestinal health to your immune system if something throws your gut microbiome out of whack. While the C. difficile bacterium can be present in your gut and not even know it, other times this infection can lead to more serious gut problems.

What are the signs of a C. diff infection?

Again, it is possible to have this infection and not have symptoms; however, some people with C. diff experience:
  • Stomach cramping or pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
Of course, many intestinal diseases and infections can also cause these symptoms so it’s a good idea to see your gastroenterologist if you are dealing with watery diarrhea, vomiting, or fever that lasts more than 48 hours.

What are the risk factors for C. diff?

Certain factors can increase your risk for C. diff. While anyone can develop this infection it’s more common in those over 65 years old, those with weakened immune systems, patients with intestinal diseases (e.g. inflammatory bowel disease), and those who work in hospital settings. If you’ve had C. diff in the past, you’re also more likely to get it again.

How is C. diff contracted?

This infection can spread from person to person or from touching contaminated surfaces or objects. This is why it’s important to properly sanitize all surfaces both at home and at work. Also, practice good hygiene and wash clothes in hot water.

How is C. diff treated?

Antibiotics are the standard way to treat a C. diff infection; however, in more severe cases (when people are experiencing complications such as organ failure) surgery may be necessary to remove parts of the colon. Since this type of infection can come back, you must talk to your gastroenterologist about ways to prevent another infection in the future.

If you are dealing with chronic diarrhea, abdominal pain, or other digestive problems, you must see a gastroenterologist who can figure out what’s going on and provide you with the treatment you need to feel better quickly.
By Gastroenterology and Nutrition Clinics PC
October 19, 2020
Tags: Ulcer   Stomach Ulcer  
Stomach UlcerAre you dealing with a burning pain in your stomach that is accompanied by bloating, lack of appetite, and heartburn? If so, you could be dealing with a peptic ulcer. Peptic ulcers are sores that develop within the lining of the stomach, causing a wide range of painful and unpleasant symptoms. It may be time to see your gastroenterologist if you notice these telltale symptoms of a stomach ulcer:
  • A dull, aching, or burning sensation in the center of your stomach that may feel worse when empty and may be alleviated by eating or drinking
  • Feeling full easily
  • Lack of appetite
  • Acid reflux and heartburn
  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dark stools
You must see a gastroenterologist if you are dealing with any of the symptoms above. Ignoring a stomach ulcer is a bad idea, as this problem requires treatment. Leaving a stomach ulcer untreated can make the problem worse. If ulcers bleed this can have serious complications so it’s important to see a gastroenterologist as soon as possible for an evaluation.

How are stomach ulcers diagnosed?

Since the problem lies within the body, we will need to be able to conduct certain tests that will help our gastroenterologists examine the stomach to find out what’s going on. To do that, your GI doctor may recommend an endoscopy.

During an endoscopy, a thin tube is inserted into the mouth through the esophagus and into the stomach to examine the lining of the stomach to look for bleeds, ulcers, and other problems within the tissue that could be causing your symptoms.

How are stomach ulcers treated?

If your endoscopy comes back positive for stomach ulcers your gastroenterologist is most likely to prescribe antibiotics and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), a medication that blocks the stomach from producing acid (this gives the ulcers time to heal). Some patients experience almost immediate relief, but it’s important to continue taking your medication even once you start feeling better.

Your gastroenterologist may already recommend certain dietary changes that include removing foods that could exacerbate symptoms while incorporating healthy food choices such as broccoli, leafy greens, and olive oil, that could improve stomach ulcer symptoms.

Very rarely do stomach ulcers require surgery, but your gastroenterologist may recommend surgery for stomach ulcers that keep returning, don’t heal with non-surgical treatment, bleed, or cause other complications.

Persistent stomach pain and gastrointestinal distress should be properly evaluated by a gastroenterologist who specializes in diagnosing and treating infections and conditions that affect the digestive tract. If you are concerned that you might have a stomach ulcer contact your gastroenterologist today.
By Gastroenterology and Nutrition Clinics PC
September 17, 2020
Tags: Abdominal Pain  
Abdominal PainEveryone experiences stomach upset from time to time; however, when abdominal pain sets in we know just how uncomfortable it can be. It’s important to know when you’re just dealing with normal aches and pains that will go away on their own or whether you may be dealing with an underlying issue that requires medical attention. In this case, trusting your gut could just be the best thing you do for your health.

What Causes Abdominal Pain

All you have to do is perform a quick Google search and you’ll realize that there are tons of infections, disorders, diseases and even injuries that can lead to stomach pain and discomfort. Since it can be difficult to figure out what’s causing persistent or recurring abdominal pain, this is where a gastroenterologist can help shed some light. Common causes of abdominal pain include,
  • Gastroenteritis (intestinal infection)
  • Indigestion
  • Gas
  • Constipation
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Food allergies
  • Food poisoning
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Diverticulitis
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Hernia
  • Gallstones
  • Appendicitis (sudden, sharp pain on the right side; requires immediate medical attention)
Your GI doctor will ask you a series of questions regarding your abdominal pain and any other symptoms you are experiencing to rule out certain conditions and to determine whether further testing is needed to make a diagnosis.

Since certain conditions such as Celiac disease or colon polyps can only be properly diagnosed through specific testing (e.g. endoscopy; colonoscopy) it’s important that you seek proper medical attention if your abdominal pain lasts for days or keeps returning.

When should I see a doctor?

It’s important to recognize when abdominal pain requires immediate or professional treatment. You should seek emergency medical care if you are experiencing symptoms of appendicitis, or if your abdominal pain is accompanied by fever, vomiting, a lack of bowel movements, yellowing skin or dehydration. While not considered an emergency, you should still call our office if your stomach is tender to the touch or if you experience abdominal pain that lasts hours.

If you find yourself dealing with recurring or regular bouts of abdominal pain, a gastroenterologist can help you find answers you’re looking for.
By Gastroenterology and Nutrition Clinics PC
August 18, 2020
GallbladderChances are good that you probably never think about your gallbladder. This small organ that lies under the liver is responsible for producing and storing bile to help the liver break down high-fat foods. Of course, you may start thinking about your gallbladder if you start to notice these symptoms of a gallbladder attack:
  • Sudden, severe, and sharp abdominal pain (typically in the upper right side of the body)
  • Pain that appears after eating and lasts several hours
  • Light-colored stools
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Yellowing skin or eyes (jaundice)
You must see a doctor right away if you are experiencing gallbladder pain or any other symptoms of an attack. That’s because there are other potentially dangerous health problems such as appendicitis or a heart attack that can also mimic the pain and other symptoms associated with a gallbladder attack, and it’s important to rule out these other conditions. Plus, if the body is unable to pass the gallstones on its own this can also lead to an infection.

Am I at risk for gallstones?

Many factors can increase your risk of developing gallstones such as:
  • Diabetes
  • Family history of gallstones and gallbladder disease
  • Being over 60 years old
  • Being a woman
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Taking estrogen or hormone medications
  • Eating a diet that is low in fiber and high in cholesterol or fat
  • Being pregnant
How is a gallbladder attack treated?

It is possible to have gallstones and never experience symptoms. In this case, you probably won’t require treatment unless there is the possibility of a complication. Sometimes medications are prescribed that can help to break up the gallstones. It may be time to consider having surgery to remove your gallbladder if:
  • You’re dealing with severe cholecystitis (inflammation of the gallbladder)
  • There is an infection
  • The gallbladder doesn’t work or has stopped working
  • The gallbladder is causing significant pain and other problems
  • There is a tumor on the gallbladder
If you are dealing with gallstones or gallbladder pain and want to discuss ways to prevent these problems in the future, or whether you should have your gallbladder removed, talk with a gastroenterologist today to learn more. Your doctor can tell you the best way to treat your gallbladder symptoms or whether you may need to consider surgery.