Our Gastroenterology Blog

Posts for: November, 2018

By Digestive Disease Associates of York County
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 Digestive Disease Associates of York County
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.