Posts for: June, 2019
While an embarrassing condition, hemorrhoids are rather common and will happen to the majority of us at some point during our lifetime. This condition occurs when the veins around the rectum or anus swell. Even though this problem is harmless it can be painful. There are many reasons why someone may deal with hemorrhoids. Those who lead a sedentary lifestyle are more likely to develop hemorrhoids. Those who are obese or deal with constipation regularly, as well as pregnant women are also prone to hemorrhoids.
Hemorrhoids can either develop inside the rectum (internal) or around the anus (external). You may be dealing with hemorrhoids if you experience:
- Bright red blood during bowel movements
- Anal itching and soreness
- Pain and swelling around the anus
- A tender lump around the anus
Sometimes hemorrhoids will go away on their own; however, it’s important to know when to see a gastroenterologist for treatment. After all, some of these symptoms could also be caused by other conditions. If you are dealing with rectal bleeding or pain it’s a good idea to see a GI doctor who will be able to perform the proper tests to confirm whether you have hemorrhoids and to rule out any other intestinal problems.
One way to prevent hemorrhoids is to prevent straining during bowel movements and constipation. In order to do this you must staying hydrated and eat a healthy, high-fiber diet. Staying active and losing excess weight can also improve gut health. If you sit for the majority of the day it’s important to get up and move around to take pressure off the veins of the anus.
In terms of treatment, the goal is to reduce pain, inflammation and irritation so the area can properly heal. This involves eating a high-fiber diet. You can also use an over-the-counter hemorrhoid cream, which can numb the area and reduce discomfort. Soaking for 10-15 minutes in a sitz bath can also ease symptoms. With the proper treatment and care hemorrhoids will often go away in about a week. If you don’t experience relief, or if your symptoms are severe then it’s time to see a gastroenterologist.
In some cases, surgery is necessary in order to treat complications (e.g. blood clots) of hemorrhoids or to properly address bleeding, painful, or persistent hemorrhoids. A gastroenterologist can perform these simple outpatient procedures right in their office.
If you are experiencing symptoms of hemorrhoids and not experiencing relief from over-the-counter medications and at-home care then it’s time to see a GI doctor for treatment.
The pancreas is an organ that we don’t often give much thought to and yet it’s quite important. After all, it is responsible for releasing digestive enzymes into the small intestines to help with digestion. It is also instrumental in releasing both insulin and glucagon into the blood, which influences metabolism and determines how effectively the body turns food into energy; however, certain lifestyle choices and health problems could lead to an attack of pancreatitis.
What is pancreatitis?
This condition is rather rare and occurs when the pancreas is inflamed. In most cases, this condition is acute and can be treated; however, sometimes it can become chronic. Damage to the pancreas will occur if the digestive enzymes are activated before the reach the intestines, causing the enzymes to destroy the pancreas.
What are the symptoms of pancreatitis?
Acute pancreatitis often causes upper abdominal pain that may get worse after eating and may radiate to your back. Your abdomen may be tender to the touch and you may feel nausea. Sometimes these symptoms are accompanied by a fever and rapid pulse.
Those who have chronic pancreatitis will notice the same abdominal pain that’s present in acute cases, as well as oily stools (known as steatorrhea) and unintended weight loss. If you are dealing with any kind of persistent abdominal pain it’s important to schedule an appointment with your gastroenterologist. If the pain is severe or makes it difficult to stand up straight, you need immediate medical attention.
Of course, there are many conditions and injuries that can lead to upper abdominal pain, so it’s important that you consult your doctor as soon as possible. If it is pancreatitis, this will often require hospitalization, so this requires immediate medical attention.
What causes pancreatitis?
There are certain conditions and habits that can increase your likelihood for developing pancreatitis including:
- Cystic fibrosis
- High calcium levels (usually occurs in those with hyperparathyroidism)
- High triglyceride levels
- Abdominal surgery
- Pancreatic cancer
Sometimes the cause of pancreatitis is unknown. However, it is possible for this condition to lead to more serious complications such as an infection, diabetes or kidney failure if it isn’t properly treated.
How is pancreatitis treated?
As we mentioned above, most people with pancreatitis will need to be hospitalized. During hospitalization, the treatment plan will include:
- Fasting for a couple of days (this will help your pancreas recover)
- Pain medications
- IV fluids
Once we have addressed your condition, we will then try to find the root cause. Based on the cause we may recommend additional treatment or surgeries including:
- Surgery to remove obstructions of the bile duct
- Pancreas surgery to drain fluid and remove diseased tissue
- Gallbladder removal (if gallstones caused your pancreatitis)
- Quitting alcohol or finding an alcohol treatment program
If you are dealing with unexplained abdominal pain or other digestive problems it’s important that you turn to a gastroenterologist who can figure out what’s going on. Call to schedule an appointment today.
How your gastroenterologists in Anchorage and Eagle River, AK, use endoscopies to help keep you healthy!
If your doctor has recommended that you undergo an endoscopy, you may be wondering what the exact purpose of this procedure may be. The truth is, an endoscopy is an important way to diagnose problems of the upper digestive system. With two convenient office locations in Anchorage and Eagle River, Alaska, the gastroenterologists here at Alaska Digestive & Liver Disease offer a full range of gastroenterology services including endoscopic treatment to help keep you healthy. Read on to learn more!
The Basics about Endoscopies
Using an endoscope, your doctor can diagnose and treat problems associated with your esophagus, duodenum, stomach, and upper intestine. Some of the most common diseases and conditions that endoscopies can detect include:
- Anemia, ulcers, and hiatal hernias
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD
- Celiac disease and gastrointestinal cancers
During an endoscopy, an ultra-thin, flexible tube is inserted into your mouth and guided down into your esophagus, stomach, and small intestine. The tube dilates your esophagus to allow for better visibility and access to structures. The tube has a tiny camera attached to the end which allows your gastroenterologist to view your upper digestive system. Your gastroenterologist can also take a small tissue sample for biopsy and remove polyps or abnormal growths if necessary.
Your doctor may recommend an endoscopy if you are experiencing signs and symptoms including:
- Chronic nausea and vomiting
- Chronic abdominal pain
- Difficulty swallowing
- Gastrointestinal bleeding
To prepare for your endoscopy, you will need to refrain from eating or drinking anything for 4 to 8 hours before your procedure. Additionally, you should talk to your doctor about discontinuing the use of any blood thinners or NSAIDS before treatment. Your gastroenterologist may also give you a sedative before treatment, so plan to bring someone with you who can drive you home after your procedure.
Give us a call!
If you’ve been told that you need an endoscopy, don’t worry. Endoscopic procedures are state-of-the-art and are well-tolerated by virtually everyone. To find out more about the benefits of endoscopic procedures and other gastrointestinal services, dial (907) 569-1333 to set up an appointment at either our Anchorage or Eagle River location!