Posts for category: Digestive Health
How a Gastroenterologist Can Help You With Your Stomach Pain.
Stomach pain can be difficult to ignore, and while it's often a condition that can be treated at home and will typically run its course and may be avoided with some simple lifestyle changes, pain can be an indicator that something else is wrong. A gastroenterologist is a doctor who specializes in the health of the digestive system and is best equipped to help identify and treat the source of your pain. For more information contact the experts of Alaska Digestive and Liver Disease in Anchorage, AK, and Eagle River, AK.
Common Aches and Pains
A lot of the time, a stomach ache is nothing to be concerned about. It can be brought on by a number of triggers. Indigestion, gas, and constipation, among others, are common causes for discomfort and they're usually brought on by improper eating habits, such as eating or drinking too much, not chewing food for the correct amount of time, and food choices.
Over the counter products and lifestyle changes can drastically diminish the likelihood that you'll have to deal with a stomach ache in the near future. If you do, it should go away on its own but can be helped along with home treatments.
Quit Your Bellyaching
If your aches are recurring or severe then speaking with your doctor should be your next step. The most important way that your gastroenterologist can help with your stomach pain is by helping you determine the underlying cause, and secondly, to treat it.
Recurring aches are often the result of food intolerances, such as dairy or gluten. Your doctor can help identify the problem foods so you can eliminate them from your diet.
Other chronic conditions that can affect your stomach such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can be managed by your doctor.
Visit Your Gastroenterologist in Anchorage, AK, and Eagle River, AK
Whatever may be the source of your pain you can depend on your gastroenterologist to help identify it, and to do so you should first make an appointment with the professionals of Alaska Digestive and Liver Disease in Anchorage, AK, and Eagle River, AK, by dialing (907) 569-1333.
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 dealing with heartburn, one of the first things your gastroenterologist will examine is your diet. While certain foods can exacerbate heartburn and make it worse, certain foods can improve and ease acid reflux symptoms. Some of these foods include:
Foods that are high in fiber such as oatmeal aren’t just amazing for your digestive tract, they may also prevent heartburn from brewing in the first place. Plus, whole grain foods can help satiate your appetite for longer, which means that you are less likely to go for snacks and other foods that could cause a nasty bout of acid reflux. So, start your morning right with a hearty bowl of oatmeal. And perhaps you may even want to add a….
Just like vegetables, a banana is a low-acid and high alkaline fruit that is also great for the digestive tract. If you battle with heartburn, bananas can help prevent stomach acid production while also helping things run smoothly through the digestive system.
Whether you prefer ginger sprinkled into your morning smoothie, a soothing cup of ginger tea or fresh ginger grated into your water, this magical vegetable reduces inflammation and can aid in preventing and treating heartburn as well as calm an upset stomach and ease nausea.
Leafy Greens and Veggies
Fibrous vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, potatoes, and asparagus are alkaline, which helps to keep stomach acid in check. This is also because these delicious and nutritious foods are low in sugar and fat, which means they are friends to those with heartburn.
We all know that yogurt has amazing probiotic properties, providing your gut with the good bacteria it needs to stay healthy and strong. Good bacteria can also improve how your immune system functions, staving off germs and infections, while also coating and easing stomach acid.
Whether you have questions about your current heartburn-friendly diet or you’re having trouble getting your acid reflux under control, a gastroenterologist will be able to provide you with proper long-term medication and lifestyle changes that can help.
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.