fbpx

GI Conditions

Acid Reflux Disease What is Acid Reflux Disease or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)? GERD is a condition in which the esophagus becomes irritated or inflamed by stomach contents, such as acid. The acid backs up in the esophagus and causes

Center of Exellence Barrett’s Esophagus Institute AT FLORIDA DIGESTIVE HEALTH SPECIALISTS Am I at risk for esophageal cancer? One type of esophageal cancer, adenocarcinoma of the esophagus, can occur in people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This is intestinal type

Biliary Cancer What is Biliary Cancer?There are two primary types of Biliary (Hepatobiliary) Cancer Hepatocellular Carcinoma Cholangiocarcinoma What is Biliary Cancer: Hepatocellular Carcinoma?Cancer that develops in the liver. What is Biliary Cancer: Cholangiocarcinoma?Cancer that develops within the liver’s biliary ducts.

Celiac Disease What is celiac disease?Celiac disease is an allergic reaction that damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing parts of food that are important for staying healthy. The damage is caused by a reaction

Cirrhosis What is cirrhosis? Cirrhosis is irreversible deterioration of liver function. With an unhealthy liver, the normal cells are replaced by scar tissue which can block the flow of blood through the liver impairing the liver functions necessary for survival

Colon Polyps What are colon polyps?A colon polyp is a growth on the inside surface of the colon (the large intestine). Some colon polyps are benign (non-cancerous), and some types may already be potentially precancerous, precancerous or frankly cancerous. What

Colorectal Cancer What is colorectal cancer?Colorectal cancer is a cancer that develops anywhere in the large intestine. The majority of colorectal cancers begin as benign polyps inside the colon or rectum. Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death

Constipation What is constipation?Constipation occurs when bowel movements become difficult or less frequent. The normal length of time between bowel movements varies for each person but going longer than three days without a bowel movement is too long. Signs of

Crohn’s Disease What is Crohn’s disease?Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that usually affects the intestines, but may occur anywhere from the mouth to the anus. What causes Crohn’s disease?While the exact cause of Crohn’s disease is unknown, the

Diarrhea What is diarrhea?Diarrhea is loose, watery stools that pass three or more times a day. Acute diarrhea lasts 1 or 2 days and goes away on its own but diarrhea lasting more than 2 days may be a sign

Diverticulitis What are diverticulosis and diverticulitis? Many people have small pouches in their colon that bulge outward through weak spots in the colon wall. Each pouch is called a diverticulum. Multiple pouches are called diverticula. Diverticulitis occurs when the pouches

Fatty Liver Disease What is fatty liver disease?Fatty liver disease (FLD) is a certain kind of fat, specifically triglyceride, accumulates in the liver cells through a process called steatosis. Steatosis is the abnormal retention of lipids within a cell. There

Fecal Incontinence What is fecal incontinence (FI)? Fecal incontinence is the inability to hold a bowel movement until reaching a bathroom or accidental leakage while passing gas. Although patients often understandably feel afraid or embarrassed to talk with their physicians

Gallstones What are gallstones? Gallstones typically form within the gallbladder though some stones can form within other areas of the biliary tract. Gallstones are lumps of hardened, concentrated bile that contain cholesterol, bile pigments bile salts, calcium salts and/or excretory

Symptoms Causes Treatment Types Prevention Outlook Summary FAQs About Gastritis Gastritis is a common but often misinterpreted gastrointestinal ailment that involves inflammation of the stomach lining, resulting in discomfort and a range of symptoms. This condition can manifest because of

Gastroparesis What is gastroparesis? Gastroparesis, also called delayed gastric emptying, is a disorder that slows or stops the movement of food from the stomach to the small intestine. Normally, the muscles of the stomach, which are controlled by the vagus

Heartburn What is heartburn?Heartburn is an uncomfortable feeling of burning or warmth in the chest caused by too much stomach acid. What is stomach acid?The stomach produces stomach acid to help protect us against bacteria parasites. It aids in helping

Helicobacter Pylori What is Helicobacter pylori?Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) are a type of bacteria that infects the inner lining of the stomach. The bacteria spread from eating contaminated water or food. Overcrowding can also help the spread of bacteria. It

Hemorrhoids, also referred to as piles, are a common yet frequently misunderstood medical condition affecting the lower rectum and anus. Hemorrhoids occur when the veins in these areas become swollen and inflamed, leading to pain, discomfort and other symptoms.

Hepatitis What is hepatitis? Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. Toxins, certain drugs, some diseases, heavy alcohol use and bacterial and viral infections can all cause hepatitis. The most common types are Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. What

Irritable Bowel Syndrome What is irritable bowel syndrome?Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a functional gastrointestinal disorder of the colon (large intestine) that causes abdominal pain, bloating, constipation and diarrhea. No structural or biochemical cause can be found to explain the

Lactose Intolerance What is lactose intolerance?If you are lactose intolerant, your body cannot digest lactose, the sugar in dairy products. What causes lactose intolerance?Lactose intolerance is caused by either a deficiency of lactase in the body or a lack of

Liver Cancer What is Liver Cancer?Liver Cancer is the growth and spread of unhealthy cells in the liver. What causes Liver Cancer? Cirrhosis Long term hepatitis B and hepatitis C infection Obesity Diabetes What are the symptoms of Liver Cancer?Signs

Liver Disease What are some of the symptoms of liver disease? Typical signs of liver disease are fatigue, excessive tiredness, jaundice, dark urine, or light-colored stools. It is important to note that you can have liver disease with no visual

Pancreatic Diseases What is Pancreatitis?Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas. What are the two types of Pancreatitis? Acute Chronic What is Acute Pancreatitis?Acute Pancreatitis is a sudden attack causing inflammation of the pancreas and is usually associated with severe

Rectal Bleeding What is rectal bleeding?Rectal bleeding is blood from the rectum, which may appear on the stool, toilet paper, or toilet bowl. Continuous passage of significantly greater amounts of blood from the rectum or stools that appear black, tarry,

About Ulcerative Colitis Ulcerative Colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation of the colon and rectum. The exact cause of this condition is still not completely understood, but it is believed to be a result of

Acid Reflux Disease

What is Acid Reflux Disease or Gastroesphageal Reflux Disease (GERD)?

GERD is a condition in which the esophagus becomes irritated or inflamed by stomach contents like acid.  The acid backs up in the esophagus and causes reflux.  The reflux is the main symptom of heartburn.

  • Heartburn-usually starts 30-60 minutes after eating, causing a burning pain in the center of the chest.
  • Most reflux occurs due to inappropriate relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter muscle.  This muscle generally relaxes in response to a swallow and is supposed to close to keep food and acid in the stomach. Reflux happens when it relaxes not in response to the swallow.

What causes GERD?

The exact cause of GERD is unknown.  Common factors that can make GERD worse:

  • Lifestyle-alcohol, smoking, obesity and poor posture
  • Medications-blood pressure and antihistamines
  • Diet-fatty and fried foods, chocolate, garlic, onions, caffeine, citrus and spicy foods
  • Carbonated drinks and late night meals

What are the symptoms of GERD?

  • Heartburn
  • Regurgitation of bitter acid in the throat
  • Bitter taste in the mouth
  • Persistent dry cough
  • Wheezing
  • Chest pain

What is the treatment for GERD?

Simple lifestyle modifications may be enough for mild symptoms.  Also, nonprescription antacids such as Maalox, Mylanta, Tums or Rolaids may help.  If lifestyle changes and antacids are not enough to relieve symptoms other treatments like acid blockers are usually needed.  Since surgical solutions have limitations, they are usually reserved for special circumstances.

What are my options if these treatments don’t work?

Your doctor may recommend a prescription to reduce acid production in the stomach like Prilosec, Prevacid, Aciphex, Protonix, Nexium, Zantac or Dexilant. 

When is surgery needed for GERD?

If prescription drugs are not relieving symptoms, or if you have serious complications, you may need surgery. This procedure, fundoplication, helps tighten the lower esophageal sphincter muscle by tying the stomach, which prevents acid from flowing back into the esophagus.   However, studies show that many patients still require acid lowering medications and may develop new symptoms not noted prior to surgery.

What is Barrett’s esophagus?

“Barrett’s Esophagus is two to three times more likely to become cancerous than a pre-cancerous colon polyp that is not removed. Patients (and many physicians) often don’t realize the threat this disease presents.”

– Dr. Scott Corbett, board-certified Gastroenterologist with a specialty in Barrett’s Esophagus.
  • Barrett’s esophagus is a condition in which the lining of the esophagus changes to lining similar to that of the small intestine. In some patients, such modification is precancerous and carries an increased risk of developing esophageal cancer.
  • The primary cause for Barrett’s esophagus is chronic inflammation resulting from Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). Barrett’s esophagus is more common in people who have had GERD for a long period of time or who developed it at a young age.
  • It is estimated that approximately 3 million people in the U.S. have Barrett’s esophagus.
  • GERD affects an estimated 25-35% of the U.S. population.
  • 10-20% of patients with chronic GERD symptoms have Barrett’s esophagus.
  • 82% of people with esophageal cancer die within 5 years of their diagnosis.
  • Most patients with Barrett’s esophagus will not develop cancer.
  • Approximately 8% of patients with Barrett’s esophagus will develop esophageal adenocarcinoma. 92% die from other causes.
  • Barrett’s esophagus diagnoses are usually made through an endoscopy procedure, which can help detect a change in the lining of the esophagus through a tissue biopsy.

Biliary Cancer

What is Biliary Cancer?

There are two primary types of Biliary (Hepatobiliary) Cancer

  • Hepatocellular Carcinoma
  • Cholangiocarcinoma

What is Biliary Cancer: Hepatocellular Carcinoma?

Cancer that develops in the liver.

What is Biliary Cancer: Cholangiocarcinoma?

Cancer that develops within the liver’s biliary ducts.

What causes Biliary Cancer?

Patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis, ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory disease of the colon, or a history of gallstones have a higher risk of cholangiocarcinoma.

What are the symptoms of Biliary Cancer?

  • Jaundice
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Itchy skin
  • Fever
  • Dark Urine
  • Diarrhea
  • White Stool
  • Bile in Stool
  • Increased blood cholesterol
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Back Pain

How does a physician diagnose Biliary (Hepatobiliary) Cancer?

  • Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
  • Endoscopic Ultrasound Scan (EUS)

Celiac Disease

What is celiac disease?

Celiac disease is an allergic reaction that damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing parts of food that are important for staying healthy. The damage is caused by a reaction to eating gluten.  Gluten is found mainly in foods containing wheat, barley, rye and oats.

What causes celiac disease?

The exact cause of celiac disease is unknown. The lining of the intestines contains areas called villi, which help absorb nutrients. When people with celiac disease eat foods or use products that contain gluten, their immune system react by damaging these villi.

People with celiac disease are more likely to have:

  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Addison’s disease
  • Dental Problems
  • Down syndrome
  • Intestinal cancer
  • Intestinal lymphoma
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Osteoporosis and Osteopenia
  • Thyroid disease
  • Type 1 diabetes

What are the symptoms of celiac disease?

Although symptoms can vary from person to person some common symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain, bloating, gas or indigestion
  • Diarrhea, and less frequently constipation or bloody stools
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Psychotic issues
  • Skin disorders
  • Weight loss

How is celiac disease treated?

A gluten-free diet is the way to treat celiac disease by avoiding foods, beverages, and medications that contain wheat, barley, rye and oats.  Complete abstinence from gluten is necessary, permanently.  A single exposure can affect the intestinal lining for three weeks.

Your doctor may prescribe vitamins to correct nutritional deficiencies. Also, corticosteroids (prednisone) may also be prescribed for short-term use, in severe cases.  After being diagnosed with celiac disease getting help from a registered dietitian who specializes in celiac disease and the gluten-free diet is recommended.

Cirrhosis

What is cirrhosis?

Cirrhosis is irreversible deterioration of liver function. With an unhealthy liver, the normal cells are replaced by scar tissue which can block the flow of blood through the liver impairing the liver functions necessary for survival such as:

  • Controlling infections
  • Removing bacteria and toxins from the blood
  • Processing nutrients, hormones and drugs
  • Making proteins that regulate blood clotting

What causes cirrhosis?

Cirrhosis is caused by a variety of factors, however the most common causes in the United States are heavy alcohol consumption, chronic hepatitis C and Obesity. 

What are the symptoms of cirrhosis?

In the early stages of the disease there are no symptoms but as the disease progresses, these common symptoms occur:

  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Abdominal distension
  • Jaundice
  • Confusion

How is cirrhosis diagnosed?

The diagnosis of cirrhosis is usually based on a complete thorough evaluation done by a qualified physician. It is important to identify risk factors for cirrhosis, such as alcohol use, viral infection or obesity. 

How is cirrhosis treated?

Depending on the cause of cirrhosis, treatment might help slow the progression of scar tissue in the liver and prevent or treat the complications of the disease.

When is a liver transplant indicated for cirrhosis?

If complications can’t be controlled by treatment, a liver transplant may be necessary. Liver transplantation is a major operation in which the diseased liver is removed and replaced with a healthy one from an organ donor.

Colitis

What is Colitis?

Colitis is a non-specific term referring to inflammation of the lining of the large intestine (colon). The term was also previously used to mean irritable bowel syndrome.

What causes Colitis?

  • Acute and chronic infections including food poisoning
  • Inflammatory disorders:  ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s colitis, lymphocytic, microscopic  and collagenous colitis
  • Ischemic colitis (lack of blood flow)
  • Clostridium difficile colitis (due to antibiotics)

What are the symptoms of Colitis?

  • Abdominal pain and bloating
  • Bloody stools
  • Chills
  • Constant urge to have a bowel movement
  • Dehydration
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Increased intestinal gas

What tests are performed to diagnose Colitis?

  • Stool tests
  • Blood tests
  • Sigmoidoscopy
  • Colonscopy
  • Xrays such as CT scan

What treatments are available for Colitis?

  • Antibiotics
  • Anti-inflammatories which work on the colon
  • Steroids
  • Immunosuppressants
  • Biologic drugs such as remicade

Colon Polyps

What are colon polyps?

A colon polyp is a growth on the inside surface of the colon (the large intestine).  Some colon polyps are benign (non-cancerous), and some types may already be potentially precancerous, precancerous or frankly cancerous.

What are the risks of colon polyps?

Anyone can get colon polyps, general risk factors include:

  • Family history
  • 50+ years of age (earlier risk for smokers, obese individuals or African American)
  • Uterine or ovarian cancer or other cancers
  • Lifestyle habits like high fat diet, excess alcohol, smoking and lack of exercise
  • Inflammatory bowel disorders such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease

What are the symptoms of colon polyps?

Colon polyps usually do not produce symptoms and are normally discovered during colonoscopy screening or while testing for blood in the stools. Symptoms are usually minimal including visible bleeding from the anus. Since the presence of symptoms such as a change in bowel habits indicates advanced disease or possible cancer, it is best to perform screening before symptoms occur.

How tests are performed to detect colon polyps?

  • Colonoscopy – A long, flexible tube with a camera is used to check for polyps or cancer inside the rectum and the entire colon.  This is the method of choice.
  • Sigmoidoscopy – A thin, shorter flexible, lighted tube is passed into your rectum and sigmoid colon to look at the last third of your large intestine.  It does not see the upper two-thirds of the colon where many polyps and cancers develop and is not regarded as adequate to screen for polyps and cancer. 
  • Barium enema – A liquid is put into your rectum, then x-rays of your large intestine are taken.  This test is very inaccurate and is not recommended.
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan – A machine using x-ray and computers creates pictures of the large intestine.  This can miss most small polyps, exposes the patient to high doses of radiation and if a polyp is detected a regular colonoscopy is still needed to remove the polyp/s.
  • Stool tests – A sample of stool is tested for blood. This is a very insensitive test and is not recommended as a sole test.

How are colon polyps treated?

In most cases, the doctor removes colon polyps during colonoscopy. The polyps are then tested for precancerous or precancerous changes or cancer and a repeat colonoscopy is done at an appropriate interval based on the number, types, size and locations of the polyps.

Colorectal Cancer

What is colorectal cancer?

Colorectal cancer is a cancer that develops anywhere in the large intestine.  The majority of colorectal cancers begin as benign polyps inside the colon or rectum.

Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. when men and women are combined, but it can often be prevented or detected early through a screening colonoscopy.

What causes colorectal cancer?

The exact cause of most colorectal cancers is unknown.  Colon cancer develops due to changes in the colon lining.  These changes may be inherited or develop as the result of mutations occurring during a person’s life, the causes of which are not fully understood. Common risk factors are family history of colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer, personal history of  ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, high fat diet, obesity or smoking.  However, some patients may have none of these risk factors, thus screening all individuals over age 45 years is important.

How does screening prevent colorectal cancer?

Screening can prevent colorectal cancer through the detection and removal of precancerous growths as well as detect cancer at an early stage, when treatment is usually less extensive and more successful.

Why is a polyp dangerous?

When a polyp progresses to cancer, it can extend into the wall of the colon or rectum where it can invade blood or lymph vessels. Cancer cells typically spread first into nearby lymph nodes, which are crucial for helping our bodies fight infections. They can also be carried via blood vessels to other organs and tissues, such as the lungs, liver, lining the abdomen and other parts of the body. This spread of cancer to parts of the body far away from where the tumor started is called metastasis.

What are the symptoms of colorectal cancer?

Symptoms:

  • Rectal bleeding
  • Change in bowel habits
  • Vague abdominal pain
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Change in caliber of stool

Risk factors:

  • Age (45+)
  • Family history
  • Gender (men are at greater risk)
  • History of IBD
  • Race (risk is higher for African Americans)
  • Lifestyle (smoking, obesity, lack of physical exercise, diet, poor nutrition)
  • Medical history (diabetes, Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s disease)

What are the tests used to diagnose colorectal cancer?

Your gastroenterologist will help determine which test is appropriate for you.  Test options include:

  • Colonoscopy – The doctor uses a thin, flexible, lighted tube to check for polyps or cancer inside the rectum and the entire colon. During the test, the doctor can find and remove most polyps and some cancers.
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy – A short, thin, flexible, lighted tube is inserted the rectum to check for polyps or cancer in the bottom third of the colon and rectum.
  • High-sensitivity stool test for blood – This test is performed at home by using a stick to obtain a small amount of stool.  The stool samples are returned to your doctor to be tested for occult blood.  However, stool tests may miss precancerous polyps and cancers and are therefore not a substitute for colonoscopy screening.

What age should I start getting screened for colorectal cancer?

Guidelines from the United States Preventive Services Task Force state that all average-risk people aged 45 and above should begin screening for colorectal cancer. This change is due to the alarming increases in colorectal cancer among a younger demographic. By 2030, researchers predict that colorectal cancer will be the leading cause of cancer deaths in people ages 20-49.

Fortunately, screening for colorectal cancer in average-risk individuals is credited as the largest single factor for decreasing rates of colorectal cancer.

How can I prevent colorectal cancer?

If you’re at average risk, start talking to your gastroenterologist at age 45 about screening options. If you’re at high risk, you may need to get screened sooner. 

Remember, 90 percent of all colorectal cancer cases and deaths are preventable by removing polyps and cancer can be successfully treated — and often cured — when detected early.

Constipation

What is constipation?

Constipation occurs when bowel movements become difficult or less frequent. The normal length of time between bowel movements varies for each person but going longer than three days without a bowel movement is too long. Signs of constipation are:

  • Stools are dry
  • Abnormal stool size
  • Frequent stomachaches
  • Feeling bloated
  • Loss of appetite

What causes constipation?

Constipation is usually caused by a bowel function disorder not a structural problem. Causes of constipation include:

  • Low fiber diet
  • Not drinking enough water
  • Lack of exercise
  • Stress
  • IBS
  • Medications

What are the symptoms of constipation?

Symptoms usually consist of infrequent bowel movements or difficulty having bowel movements, abdominal pain and vomiting.

How is constipation diagnosed?

If you have constipation for more than two weeks, you should see a doctor to determine the source of your problem and treat it. Tests include:

  • Blood tests if a hormonal imbalance is suspected.
  • Colonoscopy to look for obstruction of the colon.
  • Barium studies to look for obstruction of the colon.

How is constipation prevented?

  • Fiber diet
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Exercise regularly

Crohn’s Disease

What is Crohn’s disease?

Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that usually affects the intestines, but may occur anywhere from the mouth to the anus.

What causes Crohn’s disease?

While the exact cause of Crohn’s disease is unknown, the condition is linked to a problem with the body’s immune system response.  With Crohn’s disease the immune system can’t tell the difference between normal body tissue and foreign substances. The result is an overactive immune response that leads to chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract.  Crohn’s disease may involve the small intestine, the large intestine, the rectum or the mouth. It rarely affects the esophagus and stomach.  Immune effects may also act on the skin, eyes and liver.

What are the risk factors with Crohn’s disease?

Family history, smoking and environmental factors are attributed to developing Crohn’s disease.  A person’s genes and environmental factors seem to play a role in the development of Crohn’s disease.

What are the symptoms for Crohn’s disease?

  • Cramping or abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pain with passing stool
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Constipation
  • Fistulas usually around the rectal area
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Skin lumps or sores
  • Swollen gums

What tests are performed to diagnose for Crohn’s disease?

Usually during a physical examination abdominal pain, skin rash, swollen joints or mouth ulcers are revealed. Tests include:

  • Colonoscopy
  • Capsule endoscopy
  • CT scan or MRI
  • Sigmoidoscopy
  • Upper GI series and small bowel x-rays
  • Stool studies
  • Barium enema
  • Hemoglobin
  • Liver function tests
  • White blood cell count
  • Serologic blood tests
  • C-reactive protein

How is Crohn’s disease treated?

Non-prescription medications may be used to help control mild symptoms such as, Loperamide (Imodium) to stop the diarrhea, fiber supplements or laxatives to help with constipation and aspirin for the pain.

For more moderate symptoms prescription medications may be prescribed such as, Corticosteroids (prednisone), azathioprine, antibiotics and biologic therapy (Remicade).

If prescribed medications do not work surgery may be necessary.  During surgery the diseased part of the intestine is removed although some Crohn’s patients may need surgery to remove part of the small and large intestines.

Diet does not play a role in causing the inflammation.  However, some dietary restrictions may be recommended to help in certain circumstances such as superimposed lactose intolerance.

Diarrhea

What is diarrhea?

Diarrhea is loose, watery stools that pass three or more times a day. Acute diarrhea lasts 1 or 2 days and goes away on its own but diarrhea lasting more than 2 days may be a sign of a more serious problem.

What causes diarrhea?

Acute diarrhea is usually caused by a bacterial, viral or parasitic infection. Chronic diarrhea is usually related to a functional disorder such as irritable bowel syndrome or an intestinal disease such as Crohn’s disease. The most common causes of diarrhea are:

  • Bacterial infections-bacteria consumed through contaminated food or water.
  • Viral infections-such as rotavirus, norovirus, or herpes simplex virus.
  • Parasites-enter the body through food or water.
  • Functional bowel disorders-symptom of irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Intestinal diseases-such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
  • Food intolerances-difficulty digesting ingredients like sugar found in milk or milk products (lactose intolerant).
  • Reaction to medicines-such as antibiotics or cancer drugs.

When should adults with diarrhea see a doctor?

  • Signs of dehydration
  • Diarrhea for more than 2 days
  • Severe pain in the abdomen or rectum
  • Afever of 102 degrees or higher
  • Stools containing blood or pus
  • Stools that are black and tarry

How is diarrhea diagnosed?

  • Medical history and physical exam
  • Stool culture
  • Blood tests
  • Fasting tests
  • Sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy

How is diarrhea treated?

Typically diarrhea is caused by dehydration, by replacing the lost fluids should help treat the problem.  There are over-the-counter medicines that will help stop diarrhea like loperamide (Imodium) and bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol and Kaopectate).

Diverticulitis

What are diverticulosis and diverticulitis?

Many people have small pouches in their colon that bulge outward through weak spots in the colon wall. Each pouch is called a diverticulum. Multiple pouches are called diverticula. Diverticulitis occurs when the pouches become inflamed or infected.

What are the symptoms of diverticulosis and diverticulitis?

  • With diverticulosis, some individuals may experience pain or discomfort in the lower abdomen, bloating and constipation. Other conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome and stomach ulcers cause similar problems, so the symptoms do not always mean a person has diverticulosis.
  • With diverticulitis the most common symptom is abdominal pain. Usually the pain is severe and comes on suddenly, but it can also be mild and become worse over several days. The intensity of the pain can fluctuate. A person may experience cramping, nausea, vomiting, fever, chills or a change in bowel habits.

What causes diverticular disease?

The traditional theory is that a low-fiber diet causes diverticular disease. Diverticular disease is common in developed or industrialized countries like the United States, England and Australia where low-fiber diets are consumed. However, recent studies completely refute this hypothesis and no one is certain as to why diverticulitis develops or how to prevent complications. More modern theories focus on the type of bacteria in the gut as a potential factor.

How is diverticular disease diagnosed?

Medical history is reviewed and a physical exam is performed.   The doctor is looking for changes in bowel habits, pain, diet and medications.  Because most people do not have symptoms, diverticulosis is often found through tests ordered for another ailment. If diverticulitis is suspected, the doctor may order one of the following tests:

  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan-a noninvasive x-ray that produces cross-section images of the body. The doctor may inject dye into a vein and the person may be given a similar mixture to swallow. The dye helps “light up” the person’s anatomy on the scan to show complications of diverticulitis such as perforations and abscesses.
  • Contrast studies such as Barium enema
  • Colonoscopy

How is diverticular disease treated?

A high-fiber diet and pain medications usually help relieve symptoms in most cases of diverticulosis. Uncomplicated diverticulitis with mild symptoms usually requires the person to rest, take oral antibiotics and be on a liquid diet for a period of time. Sometimes an attack of diverticulitis is serious enough to require a hospital stay, intravenous (IV) antibiotics, and possibly surgery.

Fatty Liver Disease

What is fatty liver disease?

Fatty liver disease (FLD) is a certain kind of fat, specifically triglyceride, accumulates in the liver cells through a process called steatosis. Steatosis is the abnormal retention of lipids within a cell.  There are two different kinds of FLD, alcoholic FLD and non-alcoholic FLD.

What causes fatty liver disease?

The main causes are excessive alcohol intake and people with obesity, high fat diet, diabetes mellitus or hereditary cholesterol issues.

What are the symptoms of fatty liver disease?

Most people do not show symptoms and tend to be asymptomatic. FLD is usually discovered accidentally by abnormal liver function tests or another medical condition.

How is fatty liver disease treated?

The cause needs to be identified first.  Then a treatment plan will be based on whatever the cause steatosis is to help reverse it.  A healthier lifestyle should be encouraged with dieting, exercise, good control of blood sugar, and cessation of excessive alcohol consumption.

Fecal Incontinence

What is fecal incontinence (FI)?

Fecal incontinence is the inability to hold a bowel movement until reaching a bathroom or accidental leakage while passing gas. Although patients often understandably feel afraid or embarrassed to talk with their physicians about this problem they should realize that it can be caused by several medical conditions which may be treatable. 

Who gets fecal incontinence?

About 1 in 12 U.S. adults have FI and it is more common among women.  Risk factors include older age, chronic diarrhea, damage to the nervous system, other chronic illnesses (such as diabetes), pelvic injuries and history of difficult childbirths.

What causes fecal incontinence?

Fecal incontinence occurs when control of the anal sphincter (the “social muscle”) is no longer adequate and stools are passed before ready.   The muscles and nerves of the rectum and anus are supposed to work together to hold and then release stool.  FI may result when the sphincter weakens or the rectal sensation is reduced due to the conditions mentioned above.

How is fecal incontinence diagnosed?

A medical history, physical examination and medical tests will be used to help diagnose FI and identify possible causes.    There are several tests that can help diagnose FI:

 Anal manometry – a pressure tube is used to check the sensitivity and function of the rectum and sphincter function.  

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – uses detailed pictures of the rectum and anal sphincter muscles.

Anorectal ultrasonography – ultrasound is used to send waves into the anal area which then create pictures of the anal sphincter muscles to detect damage

Proctography – an Xray that shows how much stool the rectum can hold.

Proctosigmoidoscopy – a lighted, flexible tube is inserted into the rectum to examine the end of the large intestine and rectum to determine if there is inflammation, a tumor or scar tissue.

Anal electromyography – this test checks for pelvic and rectal nerve damage.

How is fecal incontinence treated?

Once the underlying problem causing FI is diagnosed, one of the following treatments may be used:

  • Medications such as fiber and anti-diarrhea drugs
  • Diet and nutrition
  • Pelvic exercises
  • Bowel training
  • Surgery

Gallstones

What are gallstones?

Gallstones typically form within the gallbladder though some stones can form within other areas of the biliary tract.  Gallstones are lumps of hardened, concentrated bile that contain cholesterol, bile pigments bile salts, calcium salts and/or excretory elements from the breakdown of toxins and other chemicals. 

 When the bile crystallizes, it forms into one big stone or a few smaller stones that block the ducts that carries bile from your gallbladder.

What are the symptoms of gallstones?

The most common symptom is severe pain in the upper abdomen or on the right side under the ribs lasting more than three hours.  Other symptoms may include vomiting, nausea or jaundice.   Usually the pain is triggered from greasy, fatty or starchy foods.

What causes gallstones?

Gallstones are caused by chemical imbalances from cholesterol in the bile.  These imbalances are usually a result of poor diet, excessive drugs, rapid changes in weight or an unhealthy liver.

How do I know if I have gallstones?

Gallstones can exist quietly in the gallbladder for many years, but are also capable of causing severe abdominal pain.  The pain can also spread to the back, shoulders and the neck.  Ultrasound testing can be used to confirm the presence of gallstones.

How does the gallbladder hold gallstones?

The gallbladder can actually hold up to thousands of small stones.

How are gallstones treated?

If you have multiple gallstones or experience frequent attacks your physician may recommend gallbladder removal.

Gastritis

What is gastritis?

Gastritis is an inflammation of the mucus membrane that lines the stomach caused by a bacterial infection of the stomach or damage from drugs or alcohol.  When the mucus layer becomes damaged the stomach wall or lining is exposed to acid, which causes the inflammation.

Acute gastritis is when the inflammation of the stomach lining occurs suddenly and is severe. Chronic gastritis is when the condition develops gradually although an individual may have chronic gastritis for years without experiencing any symptoms.

What are the symptoms of gastritis?

  • Discomfort in the upper abdomen
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Bloating
  • Fatigue
  • Bloody stools

What causes gastritis?

Gastritis can be a sign that there is an imbalance in your system making you susceptible to various diseases.  Lifestyle changes can help, like avoiding alcohol and smoking and to eat a well-balanced diet.

What causes gastritis?

The most common cause of chronic gastritis is the Helicobacter pylori bacterium or H.pylori. H.pylori, is a common bacteria passed from person to person. Non-steroid, anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, etc, may affect the stomachs ability to protect itself against its own acid.

How is gastritis treated?

Typically gastritis is treated with antacids to reduce the stomach acid in combination with any medications prescribed to treat the underlying cause. While many types of gastritis can be controlled with over-the-counter remedies, if you are experiencing any severe symptoms or any bleeding, it is essential that you contact your doctor.

Gastroparesis

What is gastroparesis?

Gastroparesis, also called delayed gastric emptying, is a disorder that slows or stops the movement of food from the stomach to the small intestine. Normally, the muscles of the stomach, which are controlled by the vagus nerve, contract to break up food and move it through the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The GI tract is a series of hollow organs joined in a long, twisting tube from the mouth to the anus. The movement of muscles in the GI tract, along with the release of hormones and enzymes, allows for the digestion of food. Gastroparesis can occur when the vagus nerve is damaged by illness or injury and the stomach muscles stop working normally. Food then moves slowly from the stomach to the small intestine or stops moving altogether.

What causes gastroparesis?

Most people diagnosed with gastroparesis have idiopathic gastroparesis, which means a health care provider cannot identify the cause, even with medical tests. Diabetes is the most common known cause of gastroparesis. People with diabetes have high levels of blood glucose, also called blood sugar. Over time, high blood glucose levels can damage the vagus nerve. Other identifiable causes of gastroparesis include intestinal surgery and nervous system diseases such as Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis. For reasons that are still unclear, gastroparesis is more commonly found in women than in men.

What are the symptoms of gastroparesis?

The most common symptoms of gastroparesis are nausea, a feeling of fullness after eating only a small amount of food, and vomiting undigested food-sometimes several hours after a meal. Other symptoms of gastroparesis include

  • gastroesophageal reflux (GER), also called acid reflux or acid regurgitation-a condition in which stomach contents flow back up into the esophagus, the organ that connects the mouth to the stomach
  • pain in the stomach area
  • abdominal bloating
  • lack of appetite

Symptoms may be aggravated by eating greasy or rich foods, large quantities of foods with fiber-such as raw fruits and vegetables-or drinking beverages high in fat or carbonation. Symptoms may be mild or severe, and they can occur frequently in some people and less often in others. The symptoms of gastroparesis may also vary in intensity over time in the same individual. Sometimes gastroparesis is difficult to diagnose because people experience a range of symptoms similar to those of other diseases.

How is gastroparesis diagnosed?

Gastroparesis is diagnosed through a physical exam, medical history, blood tests, tests to rule out blockage or structural problems in the GI tract, and gastric emptying tests. Tests may also identify a nutritional disorder or underlying disease. To rule out any blockage or other structural problems, the health care provider may perform one or more of the following tests:

  • Upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy. This procedure involves using an endoscope-a small, flexible tube with a light-to see the upper GI tract, which includes the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum-the first part of the small intestine. The test is performed at a hospital or outpatient center by a gastroenterologist-a doctor who specializes in digestive diseases. The endoscope is carefully fed down the esophagus and into the stomach and duodenum. A small camera mounted on the endoscope transmits a video image to a monitor, allowing close examination of the intestinal lining. A person may receive a liquid anesthetic that is gargled or sprayed on the back of the throat. An intravenous (IV) needle is placed in a vein in the arm if general anesthesia is given. The test may show blockage or large bezoars-solid collections of food, mucus, vegetable fiber, hair, or other material that cannot be digested in the stomach-that are sometimes softened, dissolved, or broken up during an upper GI endoscopy.
  • Upper GI series. An upper GI series may be done to look at the small intestine. The test is performed at a hospital or outpatient center by an x-ray technician, and the images are interpreted by a radiologist-a doctor who specializes in medical imaging. Anesthesia is not needed. No eating or drinking is allowed for 8 hours before the procedure, if possible. If the person has diabetes, a health care provider may give different instructions about fasting before the test. During the procedure, the person will stand or sit in front of an x-ray machine and drink barium, a chalky liquid. Barium coats the small intestine, making signs of gastroparesis show up more clearly on x rays. Gastroparesis is likely if the x ray shows food in the stomach after fasting. A person may experience bloating and nausea for a short time after the test. For several days afterward, barium liquid in the GI tract causes stools to be white or light colored. A health care provider will give the person specific instructions about eating and drinking after the test.
  • Ultrasound. Ultrasound uses a device, called a transducer, that bounces safe, painless sound waves off organs to create an image of their structure. The procedure is performed in a health care provider’s office, outpatient center, or hospital by a specially trained technician, and the images are interpreted by a radiologist; anesthesia is not needed. The images can show whether gallbladder disease and pancreatitis could be the cause of a person’s digestive symptoms, rather than gastroparesis.
  • Gastric emptying scintigraphy. The test involves eating a bland meal-such as eggs or an egg substitute-that contains a small amount of radioactive material. The test is performed in a radiology center or hospital by a specially trained technician and interpreted by a radiologist; anesthesia is not needed. An external camera scans the abdomen to show where the radioactive material is located. The radiologist is then able to measure the rate of gastric emptying at 1, 2, 3, and 4 hours after the meal. If more than 10 percent of the meal is still in the stomach at 4 hours, the diagnosis of gastroparesis is confirmed.
  • SmartPill. The SmartPill is a small electronic device in capsule form. The SmartPill test is available at specialized outpatient centers. The images are interpreted by a radiologist. The device is swallowed and moves through the entire digestive tract, sending information to a cell-phone-sized receiver worn around the person’s waist or neck. The recorded information provides a detailed record of how quickly food travels through each part of the digestive tract.
  • Breath test. With this test, the person eats a meal containing a small amount of radioactive material; then breath samples are taken over a period of several hours to measure the amount of radioactive material in the exhaled breath. The results allow the health care provider to calculate how fast the stomach is emptying.

How is gastroparesis treated?

Treatment of gastroparesis depends on the severity of the person’s symptoms. In most cases, treatment does not cure gastroparesis, which is usually a chronic, or long-lasting, condition. Gastroparesis is also a relapsing condition-the symptoms can come and go for periods of time. Treatment helps people manage the condition so they can be as comfortable and active as possible.

Eating, Diet, and Nutrition
Changing eating habits can sometimes help control the severity of gastroparesis symptoms. A health care provider may suggest eating six small meals a day instead of three large ones. If less food enters the stomach each time a person eats, the stomach may not become overly full, allowing it to empty more easily. Chewing food well, drinking noncarbonated liquids with a meal, and walking or sitting for 2 hours after a meal-instead of lying down-may assist with gastric emptying.

A health care provider may also recommend avoiding high-fat and fibrous foods. Fat naturally slows digestion and some raw vegetables and fruits are more difficult to digest than other foods. Some foods, such as oranges and broccoli, contain fibrous parts that do not digest well. People with gastroparesis should minimize their intake of large portions of these foods because the undigested parts may remain in the stomach too long. Sometimes, the undigested parts form bezoars.

When a person has severe symptoms, a liquid or puréed diet may be prescribed. As liquids tend to empty more quickly from the stomach, some people may find a puréed diet helps improve symptoms. Puréed fresh or cooked fruits and vegetables can be incorporated into shakes and soups. A health care provider may recommend a dietitian to help a person plan meals that minimize symptoms and ensure all nutritional needs are met.
When the most extreme cases of gastroparesis lead to severe nausea, vomiting, and dehydration, urgent care may be required at a medical facility where IV fluids can be given.

Medications
Several prescription medications are available to treat gastroparesis. A combination of medications may be used to find the most effective treatment.

Information was provided by National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC)

Heartburn

What is heartburn?

Heartburn is an uncomfortable feeling of burning or warmth in the chest caused by too much stomach acid.

What is stomach acid?

The stomach produces stomach acid to help protect us against bacteria parasites.  It aids in helping with the absorption of iron, calcium and magnesium. When the acid backs up into the esophagus it can burn and cause heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease.

What is the esophagus?

The esophagus is the muscular tube that stretches between the mouth and the stomach. All the foods you eat and the liquids you drink go down the esophagus into the stomach.

Why does the acid back up into the esophagus?

A muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) at the bottom of the esophagus normally prevents foods and acid from backing up. This muscle acts like a tight drawstring to close off the opening between the esophagus and stomach when you are not eating. Heartburn happens when the lower esophageal sphincter does not close all the way or relaxes inappropriately.

Why doesn’t the lower esophageal sphincter close all the way?

  • Certain foods and drinks loosen the lower esophageal sphincter such as chocolate, caffeine, fatty foods and alcohol.
  • Body positioning affects the lower esophageal sphincter, it’s easier for stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus if you are lying down or bending over.
  • Any pressure on the stomach can force acid backward and cause heartburn such as lifting, coughing, tight clothing, obesity or pregnancy.

Do spicy foods cause heartburn?

Many substances directly irritate the lining of the esophagus and can contribute to heartburn. Spicy foods, citrus fruits and juices, tomatoes and tomato sauces, cigarettes, carbonated drinks and late night meals can also increase the production of stomach acid and decrease the LES pressure, leading to heartburn.

Helicobacter Pylori

What is Helicobacter pylori?

Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) are a type of bacteria that infects the inner lining of the stomach. The bacteria spread from eating contaminated water or food. Overcrowding can also help the spread of bacteria.

It is theorized that houseflies might be a factor in spreading the bacteria from place to place.

What are the symptoms of H. pylori infection?

There are no digestive tract symptoms, although those infected with H. pylori are more likely to develop peptic ulcers, which can cause burning pain in the upper stomach. H. pylori has also been implicated in certain types of gastric malignancies. Acute infection can present as nausea/vomiting, stomach upset and diarrhea.

How is H. pylori diagnosed?

Blood or stool samples are tested for the bacteria and analyzed for the enzyme that produced by the bacteria.  They may also be noted on biopsy specimens obtained during an upper endoscopy.

How is H. pylori treated?

Antibiotics and other medications are usually needed to eliminate H. pylori infection.
Antibiotic therapy is used to help get rid of these bacteria from the GI tract.  A combination of antibiotics and proton pump inhibitors like Prilosec along with bismuth preparation (Pepto-Bismol®) are usually prescribed for several weeks.

Hemorrhoids

About | Symptoms | Causes | Types | Treatment | Prevention | Outlook | Summary | FAQ

About Hemorrhoid

hemorrhoidsHemorrhoids, also referred to as piles, are a common yet  frequently misunderstood medical condition affecting the lower rectum and anus. Hemorrhoids occur when the veins in these areas become swollen and inflamed, leading to pain, discomfort and other symptoms. There are several factors contributing to hemorrhoids, including age, pregnancy, and chronic constipation. Effective treatment for hemorrhoids can range from lifestyle modifications to surgical procedures. Understanding the causes, symptoms, types and treatments of hemorrhoids is crucial for effective management and relief. Whether you’re seeking home remedies for hemorrhoids or exploring medical treatments through Florida Digestive Health Specialists, gaining knowledge about this condition is the first step towards finding relief.

Symptoms

Common symptoms include painless bleeding during or after bowel movements, itching or irritation in the anal region, discomfort or pain, swelling around the anus, and a lump near your anus, which may be sensitive or painful. Often, the symptoms are mild and disappear without any specific treatment. However, more severe symptoms may require medical intervention.

Causes

The development of hemorrhoids can be attributed to several factors. Hemorrhoids occur when there is excessive pressure on the veins in the lower rectum. This pressure can result from a variety of sources. Age is a common contributor, as the tissues supporting the veins in the rectum and anus can weaken and stretch with aging. Pregnancy also introduces extra pressure on these veins because of the growing uterus. Other causes include straining during bowel movements, chronic constipation or diarrhea, a low-fiber diet, obesity, and prolonged sitting, particularly on the toilet. All these conditions exert pressure on the rectal veins, causing them to bulge and swell, leading to hemorrhoids.

Types

Hemorrhoids can be classified into two major types: internal and external. Internal hemorrhoids are located inside the rectum and are typically painless, even when they bleed. You might not know you have one until you notice blood in your stool. External hemorrhoids are located under the skin around the anus. They can cause discomfort or pain, especially when sitting or during bowel movements. When an external hemorrhoid becomes irritated, it can bleed or develop a clot, which can lead to severe pain, swelling, inflammation, and a hard lump near your anus.

Treatment

Most cases of hemorrhoids can be effectively treated with lifestyle changes and over-the-counter remedies. These include eating a high-fiber diet, drinking plenty of fluids, taking warm baths, applying compresses, and using topical treatments like hemorrhoid creams or ointments. In more severe cases, medical procedures may be required. These can include rubber band ligation, where a rubber band is placed around the base of the hemorrhoid to cut off its blood supply, sclerotherapy, where a chemical solution is injected to shrink the hemorrhoid or a hemorrhoidectomy, a surgical procedure to remove the hemorrhoid.

Prevention

You can prevent hemorrhoids by reducing pressure on the veins in the rectum and by avoiding constipation. This can be achieved through a variety of methods. Eating a diet rich in high-fiber foods, drinking plenty of water, exercising regularly, not straining during bowel movements, and not sitting on the toilet for long periods can all help to prevent the development of hemorrhoids. Medical therapy for chronic constipation may be necessary for prevent and control of hemorrhoids.

Outlook

While hemorrhoids can be uncomfortable and sometimes painful, they are not dangerous or life-threatening. With the right treatment and lifestyle changes, most people experience significant relief from their symptoms and can prevent new hemorrhoids from forming. In cases where hemorrhoids persist despite the usually successful over-the-counter treatments, medical intervention may be required.

Summary

Hemorrhoids, though common and sometimes uncomfortable, are generally a preventable or treatable condition. Symptoms can range from mild discomfort to more severe pain and swelling, depending on the type and severity of the hemorrhoid. Causes are primarily associated with pressure on the rectal veins, with advancing age, pregnancy, constipation, and prolonged sitting being major contributors. Various treatments are available, from lifestyle changes and over-the-counter remedies to medical procedures for severe cases. Preventing hemorrhoids often involves lifestyle changes aimed at reducing rectal vein pressure and avoiding constipation. While the discomfort of hemorrhoids can be significant, the prognosis is typically good, with many effective treatment options available. By being aware of the symptoms, causes, types, treatments, and preventative measures, individuals can better navigate their health, ensuring comfort and wellbeing.

FAQs About Hemorrhoids

Doctor showing what Hemorrhoids are.

What are hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are swollen and inflamed veins around the anus or in the lower rectum.
External hemorrhoids are located under the skin around the anus. Internal hemorrhoids develop in the lower rectum and may protrude through the anus. Hemorrhoids are not dangerous or life threatening.

What causes hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoid veins are preset in everyone and normally act to cushion the anal area.  The swelling in the anal or rectal veins causes hemorrhoids.  Common factors are chronic constipation or diarrhea, straining during bowel movements or a lack of fiber in the diet.  Hemorrhoids are also caused by the weakening of the connective tissue in the rectum and anus that occurs with age.  Pregnancy can also cause hemorrhoids by increasing pressure in the abdomen, which may enlarge the veins in the lower rectum and anus, but typically disappears after childbirth.

Hemorrhoid symptomsWhat are the symptoms of hemorrhoids?
The most common symptom of internal hemorrhoids is bright red blood on stool, on toilet paper, or in the toilet bowl after a bowel movement. Internal hemorrhoids that are not prolapsed are usually not painful.  However prolapsed hemorrhoids often cause pain, discomfort and anal itching. Bleeding as described can’t be assumed to be hemorrhoids.  Studies show that when rectal bleeding seems typically hemorrhoidal, 40% of the time it is coming from a different cause.

How are hemorrhoids diagnosed?
Your doctor can perform a physical exam to look for visible hemorrhoids or a digital rectal exam with a gloved, lubricated finger and an anoscope can also be used.
Additional exams (colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy or barium enema x-ray) may be used to rule out other causes of bleeding, especially in people age 40 or older.

How are hemorrhoids treated?
Lifestyle changes can often reduce the swelling of hemorrhoids and relieve hemorrhoid symptoms. A fiber diet can make stools softer and easier to pass, reducing the pressure on hemorrhoids caused by straining. Other changes that may help relieve hemorrhoid symptoms are drinking plenty of fluids, warm baths, regular exercise and avoid straining during bowel movements.

Over-the-counter creams and suppositories may temporarily relieve the pain and itching.  If lifestyle changes and at home therapies do not relieve symptoms, medical treatments may be needed. Outpatient treatments can be performed in a doctor’s office or a hospital. Treatments for internal hemorrhoids include:

  • Rubber band ligation- a special rubber band is placed around the base of the hemorrhoid to cut off circulation, causing the hemorrhoid to shrink.
  • Sclerotherapy-a chemical solution is injected into the blood vessel to shrink the hemorrhoid.
  • Infrared coagulation-heat is used to shrink the hemorrhoid tissue.

If external and internal hemorrhoids do not respond to other treatments, surgery may be necessary to remove the hemorrhoids.

Will hemorrhoids go away on own

In many cases, hemorrhoids have the potential to go away on their own. Mild cases of hemorrhoids often resolve without medical intervention through self-care measures and lifestyle changes. These include increasing dietary fiber intake, drinking plenty of fluids, engaging in regular exercise, and avoiding prolonged periods of sitting or straining. Over-the-counter hemorrhoid creams, ointments, and suppositories can provide temporary relief from symptoms such as itching and discomfort. However, if hemorrhoids persist or cause severe pain, bleeding, or protrusion, it is advisable to consult Florida Digestive Health Specialists for further evaluation and treatment options. They may recommend procedures such as rubber band ligation, sclerotherapy, or surgical removal to effectively address the condition and alleviate symptoms.

How do I get rid of my hemorrhoids? 

Getting rid of hemorrhoids involves various approaches aimed at reducing symptoms and promoting healing. It is crucial to adopt lifestyle changes that can alleviate the condition, which includes a high-fiber diet to soften stools and prevent constipation, drinking plenty of water to maintain hydration, and engaging in regular exercise to promote bowel regularity. Over-the-counter hemorrhoid creams, ointments, and suppositories containing ingredients such as hydrocortisone or witch hazel can provide temporary relief from itching and discomfort. Sitz baths, which involve soaking the affected area in warm water for about 10-15 minutes, can also help soothe symptoms. In more severe cases, medical interventions may be necessary. Procedures like rubber band ligation, in which a small rubber band is placed around the hemorrhoid to cut off blood flow, or sclerotherapy, which involves injecting a chemical solution into the hemorrhoid to shrink it, can be effective. Surgical removal might be recommended for particularly large or persistent hemorrhoids. It is important to consult Florida Digestive Health Specialists for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment options based on individual circumstances.

What happens if you let hemorrhoids go untreated? 

If left untreated, hemorrhoids can worsen and lead to various complications. Initially, they may cause symptoms such as itching, pain, and discomfort. Untreated hemorrhoids may result in persistent pain and discomfort, making it difficult to carry out daily activities. They can also lead to complications such as thrombosis, where a blood clot forms within the hemorrhoid, causing intense pain and swelling. Prolonged bleeding from hemorrhoids can cause anemia, resulting in fatigue and weakness. In some cases, hemorrhoids may prolapse, which means they protrude from the anus. Severe prolapse can lead to inability to be pushed back in or reduced. This can lead to significant pain and difficulty in maintaining proper hygiene. To prevent these complications, it is important to seek medical attention if experiencing hemorrhoid symptoms and receive appropriate treatment and management.

What are the signs of hemorrhoid problems? 

Hemorrhoid problems are often characterized by several telltale signs. The most common symptom is rectal itching, which can be accompanied by irritation and discomfort in the anal area. Additionally, individuals with hemorrhoids may experience pain or discomfort during bowel movements. Bright red blood in the stool or on toilet paper after wiping is another common indicator of hemorrhoid problems. Swelling or a lump near the anus, which may be sensitive or painful to the touch, is another common sign. It is also possible for hemorrhoids to cause a feeling of incomplete bowel movement or the sensation of a protrusion from the anus. If experiencing any of these signs, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional, such as those available through Florida Digestive Health Specialists, for a proper diagnosis and to discuss appropriate treatment options to alleviate the discomfort and manage the condition effectively.

How long should a hemorrhoid last? 

The duration of hemorrhoids can vary from person to person and depends on several factors. In general, hemorrhoids can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Mild cases of hemorrhoids often resolve on their own within a week or two with proper self-care measures and lifestyle changes. However, more severe or persistent hemorrhoids may take longer to heal and may require medical intervention. Treatment options such as over-the-counter creams, ointments, and suppositories can provide relief and expedite the healing process. In some cases, procedures like rubber band ligation or sclerotherapy may be necessary to remove or shrink the hemorrhoids. The healing time can also be influenced by factors such as the individual’s overall health, the severity of the hemorrhoids, and their underlying causes. It is important to consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and to discuss the expected duration and appropriate treatment options for hemorrhoids.

How long do hemorrhoids take to heal? 

The healing time for hemorrhoids can vary depending on various factors. In general, mild cases of hemorrhoids can resolve within a week or two with proper self-care measures and lifestyle changes. These include adopting a high-fiber diet, staying hydrated, practicing good hygiene, and avoiding excessive straining during bowel movements. Over-the-counter creams, ointments, and suppositories can provide temporary relief and promote healing. However, more severe or persistent hemorrhoids may take longer to heal and may require medical intervention. The individual’s overall health, the severity of the hemorrhoids, and the underlying causes can also impact the healing time. It is important to consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and management plan.

When should I go to the doctor for hemorrhoids? 

If you experience persistent or severe symptoms such as intense pain, excessive bleeding, or the presence of blood clots, it is recommended to seek medical attention. Additionally, if home remedies and over-the-counter treatments do not provide relief or if your hemorrhoids worsen or persist for more than a week, it is best to consult a healthcare professional. Furthermore, if you notice any changes in bowel habits, change in the character of your stool, unexplained weight loss, or if you have a family history of colon cancer, it is important to seek medical evaluation to rule out any underlying conditions. A doctor can provide a proper diagnosis, assess the severity of your hemorrhoids, and recommend appropriate treatment options tailored to your specific situation.

What makes hemorrhoids worse? 

Several factors can contribute to the worsening of hemorrhoids. One of the primary causes is excessive straining during bowel movements, which puts increased pressure on the rectal and anal area. Chronic constipation, characterized by hard and difficult-to-pass stools, can exacerbate hemorrhoid symptoms. Similarly, lifting heavy objects, prolonged sitting or standing, especially on hard surfaces, can lead to increased pressure on the hemorrhoidal veins, making the condition worse. Poor dietary habits can result in constipation and worsen hemorrhoids. Other factors include obesity, which increases abdominal pressure, and pregnancy, as the growing uterus puts pressure on the veins in the pelvic area. Lastly, certain lifestyle choices such as excessive alcohol consumption and smoking can impact blood vessels and worsen hemorrhoids. Managing these contributing factors through lifestyle modifications can help alleviate symptoms and prevent the worsening of hemorrhoids.

Does Preparation H help hemorrhoids? 

Yes, Preparation H is a popular over-the-counter medication that is commonly used to help relieve symptoms associated with hemorrhoids. It contains active ingredients such as phenylephrine and hydrocortisone, which work in different ways to provide relief. Phenylephrine acts as a vasoconstrictor, helping to reduce swelling and inflammation of hemorrhoidal tissues. Hydrocortisone is a corticosteroid that helps alleviate itching, redness, and discomfort associated with hemorrhoids. Preparation H is a trade name for a particular product. The same active ingredients are available in generic formulations. Hemorrhoid treatments in various forms are available over the counter, including creams, ointments, suppositories, and wipes. It is important to carefully follow the instructions and recommendations provided with the product. While Preparation H can provide temporary relief from hemorrhoid symptoms, it is always advisable to consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and to discuss the most appropriate treatment options for your specific situation.

Does witch hazel shrink hemorrhoids fast? 

Witch hazel, a natural astringent derived from the bark and leaves of the witch hazel plant, is often used as a home remedy to help alleviate hemorrhoid symptoms. While it may provide relief and help reduce inflammation, it is important to note that witch hazel alone may not lead to fast or significant shrinking of hemorrhoids. Witch hazel contains tannins, which have a mild astringent effect that can temporarily tighten and soothe the swollen tissues. It can help reduce itching, swelling, and discomfort associated with hemorrhoids. Witch hazel can be applied topically in the form of wipes, pads, or compresses. It is typically recommended to use witch hazel in conjunction with other self-care measures such as increasing fiber intake, staying hydrated, and avoiding straining during bowel movements. If hemorrhoids persist or worsen despite using witch hazel and other home remedies, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional for further evaluation and appropriate treatment options.

What food shrinks hemorrhoids fast? 

While there is no specific food that can guarantee fast shrinking of hemorrhoids, a diet rich in fiber can help alleviate symptoms and promote regular bowel movements, and thus can contribute to the reduction of hemorrhoid size over time. Consuming foods high in fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, can soften the stool and make it easier to pass, reducing strain during bowel movements. This can help prevent constipation and minimize the irritation and swelling of hemorrhoids. Additionally, staying well-hydrated by drinking an adequate amount of water throughout the day is crucial to support healthy digestion and prevent dry, hard stools. Some specific foods that are known for their high fiber content include apples, pears, berries, broccoli, spinach, whole wheat bread, oats, and lentils. It is important to gradually increase fiber intake and maintain a well-balanced diet to support overall digestive health. However, it is always recommended to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized dietary advice and to determine the most suitable approach for managing hemorrhoids.

What causes hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids, swollen and inflamed blood vessels in the rectal and anal area, can be caused by a variety of factors. One primary cause is excessive pressure on the veins in the pelvic and rectal area. This pressure can result from straining during bowel movements due to constipation or diarrhea. Chronic constipation, characterized by infrequent and hard stools, can put strain on the rectum and contribute to the development of hemorrhoids. During pregnancy, the growing uterus exerts pressure on the pelvic veins and can cause hemorrhoids. Obesity increases abdominal pressure and can promote formation of hemorrhoids. Heavy lifting and prolonged sitting or standing can also contribute to the development of hemorrhoids. Ageing can promote formation of hemorrhoids, as the tissues supporting the veins in the rectum weaken over time. Also, a family history of hemorrhoids can increase the likelihood of developing them. Making lifestyle modifications such as maintaining a high-fiber diet, staying hydrated, and avoiding prolonged sitting or straining can help reduce the risk of hemorrhoid development. 

Hepatitis

What is hepatitis?

Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. Toxins, certain drugs, some diseases, heavy alcohol use and bacterial and viral infections can all cause hepatitis. The most common types are Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C.

What is the difference between Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C?

Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C are diseases caused by three different viruses. Although each can cause similar symptoms, they have different modes of transmission and can affect the liver differently. Hepatitis A appears only as an acute or newly occurring infection and does not become chronic. People with Hepatitis A usually improve without treatment. Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C can also begin as acute infections, but in some people, the virus remains in the body, resulting in chronic disease and long-term liver problems. There are vaccines to prevent Hepatitis A and B; however, there is not one for Hepatitis C.

What is Hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection that causes inflammation and affect your liver’s ability to function. It is usually transmitted with contaminated food or water or from close contact with an infected person or object.

Symptoms include: Fatigue, nausea, abdominal pain/discomfort (especially on the upper right side where the liver is), low of appetite, joint pain, jaundice and itching.

Most cases of hepatitis A are mild and do not require treatment, and symptoms generally recede in a number of weeks. While a vaccine is available for those at risk, practicing good hygiene is one of the best ways to protect against the disease.

What is Hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B is a contagious liver disease that ranges in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness. It results from infection with the Hepatitis B virus. Hepatitis B can be either “acute” or “chronic.”

  • Acute Hepatitis B virus infection is a short-term illness that occurs within the first 6 months after someone is exposed to the Hepatitis B virus. Acute infection can — but does not always — lead to chronic infection.
  • Chronic Hepatitis B virus infection is a long-term illness that occurs when the Hepatitis B virus remains in a person’s body.

What is hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV), which is found in the blood of persons who have this disease. HCV is spread by contact with the blood of an infected person.

Who should get tested for hepatitis C?

  • persons who ever injected illegal drugs, including those who injected once or a few times many years ago
  • persons who were treated for clotting problems with a blood product made before 1987 when more advanced methods for manufacturing the products were developed
  • persons who were notified that they received blood from a donor who later tested positive for hepatitis C
  • persons who received a blood transfusion or solid organ transplant before July 1992 when better testing of blood donors became available
  • long-term hemodialysis patients
  • persons who have signs or symptoms of liver disease (e.g., abnormal liver enzyme tests)
  • healthcare workers after exposures (e.g., needle sticks or splashes to the eye ) to HCV-positive blood on the job
  • children born to HCV-positive women

How is HCV spread from one person to another?

HCV is spread primarily by direct contact with human blood. For example, you may have gotten infected with HCV if:

  • you ever injected street drugs, as the needles and/or other drug “works” used to prepare or inject the drug(s) may have had someone else’s blood that contained HCV on them.
  • you received blood, blood products, or solid organs from a donor whose blood contained HCV.
  • you were ever on long-term kidney dialysis as you may have unknowingly shared supplies/equipment that had someone else’s blood on them.
  • you were ever a healthcare worker and had frequent contact with blood on the job, especially accidental needlesticks.
  • your mother had hepatitis C at the time she gave birth to you. During the birth her blood may have gotten into your body.
  • you ever had sex with a person infected with HCV.
  • you lived with someone who was infected with HCV and shared items such as razors or toothbrushes that might have had his/her blood on them

Is there any evidence that HCV has been spread during medical or dental procedures done in the United States?

Medical and dental procedures done in most settings in the United States do not pose a risk for the spread of HCV. There have, however, been some reports that HCV has been spread between patients in hemodialysis units where supplies or equipment may have been shared between patients.

Can HCV be spread by sexual activity?

Yes, but this does not occur very often. See section on counseling for more information on hepatitis C and sexual activity.

Can HCV be spread within a household?

Yes, but this does not occur very often. If HCV is spread within a household, it is most likely due to direct exposure to the blood of an infected household member.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

What is irritable bowel syndrome?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a functional gastrointestinal disorder of the colon (large intestine) that causes abdominal pain, bloating, constipation and diarrhea.  No structural or biochemical cause can be found to explain the symptoms, therefore IBS is diagnosed often after other possible digestive disorders and diseases have been ruled out.

What causes IBS?

Muscles in the colon normally contract many times a day; moving feces along and ultimately resulting in a bowel movement. With IBS these muscles are exceptionally sensitive to certain stimuli or triggers.  Researchers are not certain exactly why the muscles in the colon of a person with IBS are more sensitive but do know that IBS is not caused by stress or strong emotions.

What are the symptoms of IBS?

The symptoms of IBS can include:  gas, pain, bloating, nausea, vomiting, mucus in the stool, constipation and diarrhea. Cramps are often relieved by a bowel movement, but some people with IBS may have cramps and be unable to pass anything. Severity of symptoms varies, and could be anywhere from a mild annoyance to debilitating. IBS does not lead to Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, or any type of bowel cancer.

How is IBS diagnosed?

IBS is often diagnosed after excluding organic diseases such as infection or other causes of the symptoms.  Testing includes:

  • Blood tests-to determine the white blood ell count or if anemia is present.
  • Fecal occult blood test-to detect bleeding from anywhere in the digestive tract.
  • Stool culture-is collected and tested for bacteria, parasites and white blood cells
  • Barium enema-uses barium sulfate and air to outline the rectum and colon, abnormalities will appear as dark silhouettes on the x-ray
  • Sigmoidoscopy-a flexible, lighted tube is used to determine inflammation.
  • Colonoscopy-a flexible, lighted tube is used to view the whole colon, the lower small bowel and sample tissue

Some gastroenterologists use a pattern of symptoms called Rome criteria to aid in the diagnosis of IBS.  In low risk circumstances with typical symptoms, these may help limit testing to the most necessary studies.

What medications are used to treat IBS?

Medications are used to lessen IBS symptoms such as diarrhea, cramping, pain or constipation.

Lactose Intolerance

What is lactose intolerance?

If you are lactose intolerant your body is unable to digest lactose, the sugar in dairy products.

What causes lactose intolerance?

Lactose intolerance is caused by either a deficiency of lactase in the body. Lactase is the enzyme needed to break down lactose into smaller components for digestion.If your intestine is deficient in lactase, your own gut bacteria break down the lactose, generally giving off hydrogen as a bi-product.  This can cause bloating, cramps and diarrhea.  Lactose is the most sensitive enzyme on the intestinal surface.  It can be shed with an event as simple as a viral infection, and it may never recover.  Thus, a person can be lactose tolerant one day and intolerant over the next few weeks or months.  In rare cases, Lactose Intolerance can occur permanently. Approximately 60% of Caucasian adults and 90% of African American adults are lactose intolerant.

What are the symptoms of lactose intolerance?

Symptoms of lactose intolerance vary with the degree of lactase deficiency. A very mild deficiency may not experience any symptoms at all but a greater lactase deficiency can lead to bloating, loose stools and crampy abdominal pain.

How is lactose intolerance diagnosed?

The first step is to eliminate cow’s milk from your diet to see if the symptoms go away.  If symptoms persist there are several diagnostic tests to determine lactose intolerance.

  • Lactose intolerance test-requires fasting and then drinking a liquid that contains lactose. Several blood samples are then taken to measure the person’s blood glucose (blood sugar) level.
  • Hydrogen breath test-a lactose beverage is given, after digesting the beverage hydrogen levels are tested which indicate improper digestion of lactose.
  • Stool acidity test-measures the amount of acid in the stool.

Liver Cancer

What is Liver Cancer?

Liver Cancer is the growth and spread of unhealthy cells in the liver.

What causes Liver Cancer?

  • Cirrhosis
  • Long term hepatitis B and hepatitis C infection
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes

What are the symptoms of Liver Cancer?

Symptoms of lactose intolerance vary with the degree of lactase deficiency. A very mild deficiency may not experience any symptoms at all but a greater lactase deficiency can lead to bloating, loose stools and crampy abdominal pain.

How is liver cancer diagnosed?

Liver cancer can be diagnosed by a physical examination or by imaging tests. To confirm a diagnosis of liver cancer, physicians may use blood tests, ultrasound tests, computer tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance (MRI), and angiograms. Your physician may also have to perform a liver biopsy.

Liver Disease

What are some of the symptoms of liver disease?

Typical signs of livers disease are fatigue, excessive tiredness, jaundice, dark urine or light colored stools.  It is important to note that you can have liver disease with no visual symptoms. 

How much alcohol usage is high risk for liver damage?

Any amount of alcohol can produce liver damage.  Due to body size and fat, men metabolize and are able to clear alcohol more efficiently than women. Men and women should avoid daily and excessive alcohol consumption.

All alcohol types can be injurious to the liver and should be consumed judiciously. 

Can liver damage be reversed?

The liver is the only organ in the body that is able to repair and regenerate by replacing damaged tissue with new cells. As long there are no other complications, the liver will repair completely if the toxic agent is completely discontinued.

 There are long-term complications of liver disease when regeneration is prevented by progressive development of scar tissue in the liver caused by a virus, drugs or alcohol. 

What other toxins beside alcohol can damage the liver?

The most common is acetaminophen in Tylenol.  Tylenol is safe in small doses, however large amount can result in liver failure.

 Other toxins that can harm the liver are those that are inhaled such as cleaning products, paints and herbal substances. If unsure of the potential agent causing injury please call one our liver specialists here at FDHS.

Pancreatic Diseases

What is Pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas.
What are the two types of Pancreatitis?

  • Acute
  • Chronic

What is Acute Pancreatitis?

Acute Pancreatitis is a sudden attack causing inflammation of the pancreas and is usually associated with severe upper abdominal pain. The pain may be severe and last several days.

What causes Acute Pancreatitis?

  • Gallstones
  • Excessive Alcohol Consumption
  • Viral and Bacterial Infections
  • Hereditary Conditions
  • Trauma
  • Medications
  • Infections
  • Electrolyte Abnormalities
  • High Lipid Levels
  • Hormonal Abnormalities

What are the symptoms of Acute Pancreatitis?

  • Severe Abdominal Pain (Below the ribs). It usually builds up quickly (over a few hours) and may last for several days.
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Fever

What is the treatment for Acute Pancreatitis?

The treatment for Acute Pancreatitis depends on how bad your attack may be. In most cases, Acute Pancreatitis settles over a few days, although symptoms can get worse before getting better.

What is Chronic Pancreatitis?

Chronic Pancreatitis is the progressive disorder associated with the destruction of the pancreas. The disease is more common in men and usually develops in persons between 30 and 40 years of age.

What causes Chronic Pancreatitis?

  • Chronic Alcohol Consumption
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Hereditary Disorders of the Pancreas
  • A significant number of patients have no known cause

What are the symptoms of Chronic Pancreatitis?

  • Upper Abdominal Pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Over time patients can develop malnutrition and weight loss

What is the treatment for Chronic Pancreatitis?

The treatment for Chronic Pancreatitis depends on the symptoms. Most therapies center on pain management and nutritional support. Oral pancreatic enzyme supplements are used to aid in the digestion of food. Patients who develop diabetes require insulin to control blood sugar. The avoidance of alcohol is central to therapy.

Rectal Bleeding

What is rectal bleeding?

Rectal bleeding is blood from the rectum, which may appear on the stool, on the toilet paper or in the toilet bowl. Continuous passage of significantly greater amounts of blood from the rectum or stools that appear black, tarry or maroon in color can signify other diseases.

What are the possible causes of rectal bleeding?

  • Hemorrhoids
  • Anal fissures
  • Proctitis (inflammation of the rectum) or colitis
  • Polyps
  • Colon or anal cancer
  • Rectal ulcers
  • Diverticulosis

What are hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids are swollen blood vessels in the anus and rectum that become engorged from increased pressure. Hemorrhoids are the most common cause of minor rectal bleeding, and are typically not associated with pain.  Treatments include warm baths, over-the-counter creams or a suppository.

What are anal fissures?

Anal fissures are tears that occur in the lining of the anus and are commonly caused by constipation. Anal fissures may also cause a lot of pain during and immediately after bowel movements. Treatment includes fiber supplements, stool softeners and warm baths.  Measures that relax the anal sphincter may also help healing.

What is proctitis?

Proctitis is the inflammation of the lining of the rectum caused by previous radiation therapy for various cancers, medications, infections or inflammatory bowel disease.

What are colon polyps?

Polyps are benign growths within the lining of the large bowel. It is important to remove polyps to prevent turning into colon cancer.

What is colon cancer?

Colon cancer starts in the large intestine and is the second most common cause of cancer deaths in the United States. It is a slow-growing cancer that can be cured if detected early.

What are rectal ulcers?

Rectal ulcers are an uncommon condition that is associated with long-standing constipation and prolonged straining during bowel movement.

Ulcerative Colitis

What is Ulcerative colitis?

Ulcerative colitis affects the colon and the rectum, causing inflammation and ulcers in the lining of the large intestine.

What causes Ulcerative colitis?

The exact cause is unknown.  Some think ulcerative colitis might be caused by the immune system overreacting to normal bacteria in the digestive tract.

What are the symptoms?

  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of weight
  • Diarrhea
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Abdominal pain

How is ulcerative colitis diagnosed?

Your doctor will rule out other problems that can cause similar symptoms, such as irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s disease through these tests:

  • Colonoscopy- an image of the lining of the colon examined for any abnormalities.
  • Blood test-look for infection or inflammation
  • Stool sample-looking for blood, infection and white blood cells

How is ulcerative colitis treated?

Typically, medicines are used for treatment unless symptoms are severe.  Medicines are used to reduce or stop symptoms and prevent flare-ups.  Steroids can also be used temporarily to help reduce or stop symptoms.
You may need surgery to remove part or all of your colon if severe symptoms persist and medicines do not work.  While colectomy is usually not necessary, total removal of all colon tissue is curative of ulcerative colitis and will prevent colon cancer, which occurs at significantly higher frequency in individuals with chronic ulcerative colitis.

Ulcerative Colitis

What is Ulcerative colitis?

Ulcerative colitis affects the colon and the rectum, causing inflammation and ulcers in the lining of the large intestine.

What causes Ulcerative colitis?

The exact cause is unknown.  Some think ulcerative colitis might be caused by the immune system overreacting to normal bacteria in the digestive tract.

What are the symptoms?

  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of weight
  • Diarrhea
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Abdominal pain

How is ulcerative colitis diagnosed?

Your doctor will rule out other problems that can cause similar symptoms, such as irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s disease through these tests:

  • Colonoscopy- an image of the lining of the colon examined for any abnormalities.
  • Blood test-look for infection or inflammation
  • Stool sample-looking for blood, infection and white blood cells

How is ulcerative colitis treated?

Typically, medicines are used for treatment unless symptoms are severe.  Medicines are used to reduce or stop symptoms and prevent flare-ups.  Steroids can also be used temporarily to help reduce or stop symptoms.
You may need surgery to remove part or all of your colon if severe symptoms persist and medicines do not work.  While colectomy is usually not necessary, total removal of all colon tissue is curative of ulcerative colitis and will prevent colon cancer, which occurs at significantly higher frequency in individuals with chronic ulcerative colitis.