Our Gastroenterology Blog

Posts for category: Digestive Health

By FLORIDA DIGESTIVE AND LIVER SPECIALISTS, PA
April 07, 2021
Category: Digestive Health
Tags: Constipation  
Reoccurring ConstipationSure, we know that no one really wants to talk about their bowels; however, when something just isn’t working properly, embarrassment goes right out the window as you search for answers. Well, search no more. If you are dealing with recurring or persistent bouts of constipation, a gastroenterologist can help shed light on what might be going on.
 
What is constipation?

Constipation is defined as having fewer than three bowel movements a week. Chronic constipation occurs when symptoms continue for more than a few weeks. Some of the causes of chronic constipation include,
  • Poor diet or a low-fiber diet
  • Sedentary lifestyle (aka lack of physical activity)
  • Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Diabetes
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Bowel obstructions
  • Stroke
  • High levels of calcium in the bloodstream (hypercalcemia)
  • Pregnancy
  • Certain medications (e.g., diuretics; opioids; tricyclic antidepressants)
When is constipation a concern?

The first step you should take is to change your diet and lifestyle to see if that helps your bowel movements. If constipation does not improve then it’s time to see your doctor. Make sure to write down any other symptoms you may be experiencing along with constipation such as abdominal pain, fatigue, unexpected weight loss, or hair loss. We will go through the medications you’re taking and decide whether we should run blood tests to rule out certain health problems such as diabetes or thyroid function.

In some cases, a gastroenterologist may recommend a colonoscopy, which allows your doctor to be able to better examine the colon and large intestines to look for obstructions, bleeds, ulcers, inflammation, irritable bowel disease, or other possible causes of constipation.

Most patients can improve their constipation issues through simple dietary and lifestyle changes, or through over-the-counter products; however, if you still don’t get relief, our gastroenterologist may recommend a prescription-strength medication that can help with chronic constipation.

If chronic constipation is caused by an underlying health problem such as diabetes or hypothyroidism you must get the proper medication and treatment you need from your doctor. By getting these health problems under control we can also alleviate your gastrointestinal symptoms.
 
While a bout of constipation every once in a while isn’t usually a cause for concern, if you’re dealing with constipation that lasts days or continues to come back, you should talk with a gastroenterologist to find out what’s going on.
By FLORIDA DIGESTIVE AND LIVER SPECIALISTS, PA
January 13, 2021
Category: Digestive Health
Irritable Bowel DisordersCould your stomach problems be caused by IBD?
 
Dealing with stomach cramps, bloating, and other digestive issues that keep coming and going? If so, you may be wondering if you’re suffering from an irritable bowel disorder (IBD). IBD is often confused with irritable bowel syndrome (because they often have the same symptoms), but they are not the same. IBD is a chronic condition that can cause complications if not properly treated, so it’s important to see a gastroenterologist if you suspect that you might have an IBD.
 
What are the different types of inflammatory bowel disease?

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.
 
What are the signs and symptoms of Crohn’s disease?

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
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea or bloody stools
  • Constipation
  • Widespread inflammation that may also result in fever, canker sores, and skin rashes
What are the signs and symptoms of ulcerative colitis?

Those with ulcerative colitis may experience flare-ups of,
  • Fatigue
  • Increased frequency of bowel movements
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Bloody stools
  • Abdominal pain
  • Skin rashes
  • Decreased appetite
How is IBD treated?

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
  • Immunosuppressants
  • 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)
If you are experiencing symptoms of IBD such as persistent stomach pains, diarrhea, or constipation, it’s important to see a qualified gastroenterologist to find out what’s going on. While there is no cure for IBD, a gastroenterologist will be able to help you get your digestive problems under control through lifestyle changes and medications.
By FLORIDA DIGESTIVE AND LIVER SPECIALISTS, PA
November 03, 2020
Category: Digestive Health
Tags: Chronic Diarrhea  
Everyone has an occasional bout of diarrhea. It could be stress or something you ate; however, what if your diarrhea doesn’t go away? If you are experiencing diarrhea consistently for several weeks, then you’re dealing with chronic diarrhea. Chronic diarrhea could be a warning sign of more serious digestive diseases and problems, so it’s important to see a gastroenterologist as soon as possible.

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
  • Pancreatitis
  • Maldigestion
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Bacterial, fungal, and parasitic infections
Other factors can also lead to chronic diarrhea, including:
  • Certain medications (e.g. antacids; laxatives)
  • Gluten intolerance and Celiac disease
  • Heavy alcohol consumption
  • Certain chronic or preexisting conditions (e.g. diabetes; thyroid disorders)
Other causes of chronic diarrhea include:
  • Immune dysfunction
  • Hereditary disorders (e.g. cystic fibrosis)
  • Past surgeries of the digestive tract
  • Tumors
If a blood test or stool sample doesn’t shed light on what’s going on, then your gastroenterologist may recommend imaging tests or endoscopy or colonoscopy to check for inflammation or bleeding somewhere within 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. 
 
By FLORIDA DIGESTIVE AND LIVER SPECIALISTS, PA
September 03, 2020
Category: Digestive Health
Tags: Gluten-free Diet  
Gluten-Friendly DietWhether you’ve actually been diagnosed with Celiac disease or you just suspect that you may be dealing with gluten intolerance, there are many reasons why someone may switch to a gluten-free diet. For those with celiac, eating a gluten-free diet is the only way to get rid of symptoms and to help the gut heal properly. Of course, starting a new diet can always feel a little confusing. That’s where a gastroenterologist can provide you with a wide range of tips to make your new diet a success.

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,
  • Quinoa
  • Oats (make sure there is a gluten-free label on the packaging)
  • Buckwheat
  • Sorghum
  • Amaranth
  • Brown rice
  • Teff
  • Corn
Gluten-free diets don’t always help you lose weight

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.