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Posts for: November, 2018

By Alaska Digestive and Liver Disease
November 16, 2018
Category: GI Care
Tags: Diverticulitis  

What is diverticulitis?

Normally, we pay no attention to our large intestines, but if you have symptoms of diverticulitis, you're well aware of your bowel. Painful, inflamed bulges in the intestinal wall, diverticula are worrisome and potentially dangerous. If your physician suspects you have this GI condition common in the over-60 population, seek the services of a gastroenterologist. Specially trained in diverticulitis, and the less serious diverticulosis, a GI specialist can diagnose and treat your bowel health for better long-term function and well-being.

Symptoms of diverticulitis

Diverticulitis is serious infection which requires medical attention. Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Intense lower abdominal pain
  • Blood in the stool
  • Pus and mucus with your bowel movements, indicating infection
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
When infection is severe, the individual puches of the intestinal wall may rupture, spilling bowel contents into the abdomen. This is a medical emergency and may require treatment with IV antibiotics and even surgery to repair the tears.
Being proactive with diverticulitis
Certainly, age is a factor in development of diverticula. Genetics, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle add to this GI problem, says the American Academy of Family Physicians.
However, gastroenterologists advise that dietary changes help decrease the chances of infection and rupture. In other words, you can live well even with diverticulosis by lowering your intake of fermentable carbohydrates such as:
  • Cabbage
  • Beans
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Dairy products
  • Sauerkraut
In decades past, physicians recommended that patients with diverticulosis avoid seeds, nuts, corn and other foods which could collect and fester in the small intestinal pouches. More recent research, however, indicates that this may not be the case but that patients should keep track of foods which seem to increase symptoms.
Just as with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and other complaints of the gastrointestinal tract, diverticular disease improves with increased daily intake of water, a high fiber diet, and probiotic supplements (which add "good" bacteria and yeasts to the gut). Exercise always improves GI health and overall well-being, too.
Diagnosing diverticulitis
Your gastroenterologist is the best person to see for precise diagnosis of this common condition. A barium enema, colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy and CT imaging help your specialist determine the exact cause of your symptoms and how to proceed with treatment--both for acute flare-ups and for long-term management of diverticulitis.
Take control
Your gastroenterologist encourages you to know more about your intestinal health and to stay on top of conditions such as diverticular disease. Be proactive about all aspects of your health for a longer, better life!

By Alaska Digestive and Liver Disease
November 09, 2018
Category: Gastroenterology
Tags: Cancer   Colon Cancer  

Protect yourself by knowing the early warning signs of colon cancer.

Colon cancer is a condition that can affect both men and women, which is why everyone should know the risk factors, warning signs, and when to visit our Anchorage, AK, gastroenterologists, Dr. Ronald Boisen, Dr. Daryl McClendon, and Dr. Jeffrey Molloy, for a further evaluation. Regular colon cancer screenings are important as they're the most effective way to detect the disease during its earliest and most easily treatable ages.

Colon CancerWhat are the symptoms of colon cancer?

The symptoms of colon cancer aren’t always that easy to detect because a lot of the earlier warning signs aren’t exclusive to colon cancer. Some of these warning signs include abdominal cramps and changes in bowel habits (e.g. diarrhea; constipation), which could be caused by many different problems; however, it’s more important to understand when you shouldn’t just ignore these symptoms. Symptoms of colon cancer may include,

  • Fatigue
  • Sudden and unexplained weight loss
  • Anemia
  • Blood in the stool
  • Lower abdominal cramps
  • Changes in the appearance of your stools

If in doubt, call our Anchorage, AK, GI doctors to let us know what symptoms you are experiencing. From this, we will be able to gauge whether or not you need to come in for a further evaluation.

Who is at risk for colon cancer?

Both men and women are at risk for colon cancer. While there certainly are risk factors that can increase your chances, many people who are diagnosed with colon cancer don’t have risk factors. Family history will play a role in whether or not you develop colon cancer or polyps.

Along with heredity, if you have a history of inflammatory bowel disease, this can also increase your chances of developing colon cancer. Other risk factors include a sedentary lifestyle, a poor diet, heavy alcohol consumption, and being overweight or obese.

How is colon cancer diagnosed?

The most effective way to diagnose colon cancer is through a colonoscopy. Regardless of whether or not you are experiencing symptoms, once you turn 50 years old, you should start coming in for routine colonoscopies. This is something both men and women need to do. A colonoscopy will allow our gastroenterologist to be able to view the inside of the rectum and colon to look for and remove colon polyps, which could develop into cancer.

Call today!

Is it time to schedule your first colon cancer screening? Do you want to talk to us about digestive symptoms you are experiencing? If so, we have offices in both Anchorage and Eagle River, AK, to better serve you. Call Alaska Digestive and Liver Disease today at (907) 569-1333.

By Alaska Digestive and Liver Disease
November 02, 2018
Category: GI Care

Is it constipation? Is it diarrhea? Frankly, when a patient complains to his or her physician about GI problems, the doctor has to wonder, "Is it Irritable Bowel Syndrome?" If you alternate between infrequent and too frequent bowel movements, you may need evaluation by a gastroenterologist. An expert in all things from your esophagus through your stomach and intestines, a GI doctor can uncover the reasons behind bowel issues, including IBS.

About IBS and its symptoms

Unfortunately, no one knows the real origin of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. However, it definitely is a cluster of symptoms which millions of people in the US--more women than men--suffer, before the age of 50. The International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders reports that stress appears to increase symptoms; however, anxiety and a high-pressure job or life circumstance do not actually cause the condition.

Besides constipation and/or diarrhea, individuals with IBS have:

  • Bouts of gas
  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Pain
  • Cramps
  • Mucus in the stool
  • Fatigue
  • Intolerance to a variety of foods, including those containing gluten and lactose (dairy)
What you can do
Your primary care physician may refer you to a GI doctor for additional evaluation. This specialist will listen to your symptoms; so be sure to tell him or her what they are, when and how often they occur, how long they last and what, if anything, helps.
The doctor may order blood work, including a complete blood count to check for anemia, an indicator of bleeding in the GI tract. Also, he or she may wish to look into your intestine via colonoscopy. This common examination introduces a lighted, flexible tube through the entire length of the large intestine. It allows the doctor to visualize and take photos of the lining of the bowel and to biopsy areas as needed.
Treatments for IBS
If you are diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, you can manage your symptoms. No, IBS cannot be cured, but rest assured that many patients live well with this GI condition. Many gastroenterologists ask individuals to eliminate suspect foods such as:
  • Alcohol
  • Dairy products
  • Chocolate
  • Caffeinated drinks
  • High fat or fried foods
On the positive side, you may gradually increase your intake of fibrous dietary choices such as:
  • Beans
  • Legumes
  • Oats
  • Bran
  • Yams
  • Whole grains
  • Barley
The doctor may recommend easy-to-take fiber supplements such as Fibercon or Metamucil which regulate the water in the bowel and normalize stools. Probiotics--natural supplements containing beneficial bacteria and yeast--are a common part of an IBS regimen.
Feeling better
If you suspect you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or are just not sure what's going on with your digestive health, consult a board-certified gastroenterologist. This highly-skilled doctor will get to the source of your issues, answer your questions and help you function at your best.