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Posts for: June, 2020

By Alaska Digestive and Liver Disease, LLC
June 24, 2020
Category: GI Care
Tags: Constipation  
ConstipationConstipation is the source of plenty of jokes. However, if you deal with it--even occasionally--constipation isn't funny; you just want it resolved. Your gastroenterologist helps many patients with constipation, uncovering reasons for it, and getting people the relief they need. Here's some practical help.
 
What is constipation?
In general, constipation is the inability to pass stool regularly. Often, changes in daily routine, travel, and a diet low in fiber leads to fullness and pain in the abdomen, sluggishness, super-hard stools, and even bleeding and hemorrhoids produced by straining. Experts at the Cleveland Clinic say that 2.5 million Americans annually see their primary care physicians because they are constipated.
 
What causes constipation?
Many factors play into this gastrointestinal complaint. Poor hydration and an age-related slow metabolic rate are common causes, as are:
  • Certain medications
  • Lack of exercise
  • Pregnancy
  • Excessive amounts of dairy products, including cheese and milk
  • Stress
  • Not going to the toilet frequently enough
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Abusing laxatives
Pinpointing the reasons
Your constipation may signal an underlying disease condition, and it can lead to physical issues such as rectal prolapse and hemorrhoids if left untreated. Your gastroenterologist will want to review all your symptoms; so be specific about your bowel movements, when your constipation started, and what, if anything, relieves it. He or she may run tests, such as X-rays or colonoscopy, to look for structural abnormalities or disease processes.
 
How can you deal with constipation?
John Hopkins Medicine says that most constipation responds to:
  • Changing your diet to include fiber
  • Drinking plenty of water throughout the day to soften stool
  • Staying as active as possible
  • Switching routine medications (with your doctor's approval)
  • Limited use of laxatives (enemas, glycerin suppositories, stimulant laxatives)
  • Daily fiber supplements (psyllium or bran cereals) or stool softeners
Some gastroenterologists recommend biofeedback techniques for their constipated patients. With biofeedback, the individual learns how to strengthen and to use his or her pelvic floor muscles more efficiently.
 
Manage your constipation
A healthy gut means a healthier, happier you. To learn more about constipation and other common GI problems, contact your gastroenterologist.

By Alaska Digestive and Liver Disease, LLC
June 16, 2020
Category: GI Care
Tags: Digestive System  
Healthy FoodsAn upset stomach can throw your whole day into a loop. Whether you’ve got heartburn, gas, constipation, or bloating, it’s an uncomfortable feeling. A good healthy stomach means you’ll experience less inflammation and immune problems. Talk to your gastroenterologist about protecting your stomach from changes in stomach acid and gastrointestinal flora. 
 
You Are What You Eat
Changing your diet is a great way to keep your stomach in shape. You’re going to want to eat at least seven servings of fruits and veggies daily. It doesn’t matter what form they are in or how they’re cooked, they are rich in fiber and important chemicals. 
 
When you do eat grains, go for healthier options! Whole grains give you much more fiber per serving. 
 
Put a limit on how much meat you’re eating. Choose fish or poultry instead of red or processed meat. Smaller portions are also better. 
 
Pay attention to how much sugar and animal fats are in your meals. Try to replace them with foods rich with probiotics. These produce healthy bacteria that provide sustenance and fight off the bad bacteria. 
 
Lifestyle Changes for a Healthy Stomach
Like with all health issues, making changes to how you live your life is a great way to improve yourself. Your gastroenterologist recommends the following tips.
 
One of the first things you need to change is your sleep schedule. Not getting enough sleep is linked to certain digestive disorders, including obesity. Adults should aim to get eight hours a night. It’s also smart to try to keep a consistent sleep schedule. This keeps your internal clock running perfectly. 
 
Try getting more exercise every day. Even if it’s something as simple as taking a small ten-minute walk. Keeping your weight in a normal range guarantees healthy gut bacteria. 
 
Does your job stress you out? Or maybe overwhelmed at home? This can take a toll on your gastrointestinal health. Stress can lead to increased instances of heartburn. There are certain activities you can do to minimize your stress. 

By Alaska Digestive and Liver Disease, LLC
June 09, 2020
Category: GI Care
Tags: Upper GI Endoscopy  

Have you been experiencing troubling gastrointestinal symptoms lately? An upper GI endoscopy performed by your gastroenterologists at Alaska Digestive and Liver Disease in Eagle River and Anchorage, AK, can help find the source of your problem.

How Is an Upper Endoscopy Performed?

An upper endoscopy is a procedure used to examine the lining of your stomach, esophagus, and duodenum. Although an up-close view of the upper part of your gastrointestinal system once required surgery, that's no longer necessary thanks to endoscopic technology.

During a minimally invasive upper GI endoscopy, your doctor inserts a thin scope into your mouth and slowly passes it through your stomach, esophagus, and duodenum. The scope contains a light and a miniature camera that transmits real-time images to a digital monitor. If your gastroenterologist notices anything out of the ordinary while looking at the monitor, he can pause the scope and take a closer look at a particular area.

An upper endoscopy isn't just a diagnostic procedure—your doctor can use small tools to take tissue samples, remove small growths, or stop bleeding. You'll be sedated before the procedure begins and won't remember anything that happens during your endoscopy.

Why Is an Upper Endoscopy Recommended?

During a visit to one of our gastroenterology offices in Eagle River or Anchorage, your doctor may recommend an upper GI endoscopy to:

  • Find Out the Cause of Your Symptoms: The endoscopy can help your doctor figure out why you're experiencing frequent nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, gastrointestinal bleeding, or trouble swallowing.
     
  • Open Up Your Digestive Tract: The procedure can be used to widen narrow areas in your gastrointestinal tract and remove blockages and trapped food.
     
  • Look for Inflammation: Your gastroenterologist can clearly see inflamed areas or ulcers in the lining of the upper gastrointestinal tract during the procedure.
     
  • Check for Cancer: An endoscopy offers a good way to spot changes that may be caused by cancer. If your doctor suspects that cancer could be the reason for your symptoms, he'll remove a small tissue sample and send it to a laboratory for testing.
     
  • Diagnose Conditions and Diseases: Upper endoscopies help your doctor diagnose gastrointestinal reflux disorder (GERD), anemia, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and other diseases and conditions.

Do you think you may need an upper endoscopy? Call your gastroenterologists at Alaska Digestive and Liver Disease in Eagle River and Anchorage, AK, by dialing (907) 569-1333.


By Alaska Digestive and Liver Disease, LLC
June 05, 2020
Category: GI Care
Tags: Heartburn  
HeartburnWhen the natural stomach acid produced during digestion reaches your esophagus, it causes what is known as Heartburn or Acid Reflux. It feels like stomach or chest pain, or possibly a burning sensation. You’ve most likely experienced this at some point in your life. It’s a common occurrence after eating very large meals or greasy foods. It’s only when you have heartburn all the time or every meal that you need to see a gastroenterologist.
 
Treatment for Mild Heartburn
Your gastroenterologist starts by focusing on your symptoms. These concentrate on prevention, with certain diet and lifestyle changes. You need to first start by evaluating what you eat. 
 
Avoid these foods if you suffer from heartburn:
  • Chocolate
  • Greasy and fatty foods
  • Mint
  • Spicy foods
  • Onions
  • Garlic
Antacids are over-the-counter stomach acid reducers that help when experiencing bouts of heartburn.
 
There are also risk factors for experiencing heartburn, including being overweight, smoking, pregnancy, and excessive alcohol intake.
 
Following certain guidelines is the ideal way to keep your heartburn at bay. These include eating smaller meals on a more frequent basis, avoiding lying down after eating, wearing loose clothing, and avoiding activities that involve bending down or lifting.
 
Heartburn as an Indicator of GERD
If heartburn is left to progress without intervention, it develops into gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). You need to stop severe heartburn complications in their tracks. Otherwise, they result in severe inflammation and ulceration of the esophagus, scarring, and Barrett's esophagus. Cancer becomes a possibility without the help of a gastroenterologist. 
 
Treatment for GERD 
Treatment is a mixture of the preventive measures listed above alongside pharmaceuticals. Your gastroenterologist may prescribe medications known as PPIs or H2 blockers. These work to stop the overproduction of acid in the stomach. Alginate drugs are another option. They create a barrier within the stomach that protects it from stomach acid. 
 
Antacids are the most popular and common over-the-counter treatment for heartburn. They provide a short-term reduction of stomach acidity. There are dozens of different brands and types of antacids. This includes formats like liquid, gels, and regular pills. 
 
Consider contacting a gastroenterologist if you experience throat problems like soreness, pain when swallowing, nauseous, wheezing, a persistent cough, and bad breath. These are other common symptoms of GERD.