7 Common Signs of a Duodenal Ulcer

Duodenal ulcers are a type of sore that develop in your small intestine in an area called the duodenum. This area is located at the top portion of your small intestine just past the stomach. 

This type of ulcer can be caused by several different things. Some people get duodenal ulcers from infections with Helicobacter pylori often referred to as H. pylori, a bacterium often detected in the stomach. 

Ulcers can also be caused by anti-inflammatory medications which can impact the mucous barrier in the duodenum enabling acids to cause ulcers. There are also certain medical conditions that can cause duodenal ulcers. For example, duodenal ulcers can be caused by the increase in stomach acid associated with Zollinger-Ellison syndrome. 

Additionally certain lifestyle factors can increase a person’s risk of developing duodenal ulcers including heavy drinking, smoking and heavy stress.

Research suggests that upwards of one out of 10 people in the U.S. experience a duodenal ulcer at some point in time. While ulcers were originally more common in men, the rates of ulcers in women have increased in recent years.

Though duodenal ulcers may be confused with other medical conditions, there are some common signs and symptoms. Follow along for 7 common signs of a duodenal ulcer.

7 Signs of a Duodenal Ulcer

1. Stomach pain which sometimes becomes more severe and then gets better depending on what you are eating and drinking.

2. Bloating and an overall feeling of fullness especially after you eat 

3. Increased gas and a need to burp

4. Nausea and even feeling like you might need to vomit

5. Weight loss which can happen if the ulcer causes any type of blockage in your digestive track which makes it difficult for food to travel through your stomach.

6. Weight gain through comfort eating in order to find pain relief through food that neutralizes the acid build up. 

7. Indigestion, sometimes called dyspepsia, which is characterized by discomfort and a burning feeling in your upper abdomen area.

8. Extremely serious ulcer cases can cause more severe symptoms and complications that require immediate medical attention including blood in your stool. 

If you think that you might be suffering from a duodenal ulcer, you should seek out experienced medical attention. When left untreated, duodenal ulcers can lead to more serious complications including bleeding and even perforations in your intestine. There are certain tests that your gastroenterologist may perform for diagnostic purposes. An endoscopy is often used to diagnose a duodenal ulcer. Through this test your physician is uses a flexible telescope which provides visibility in the duodenum so that ulcers can be detected. Your doctor may also test you to see if you have H. pylori.

The experienced team at Gastroenterology Health Partners is here for you if you are concerned about duodenal ulcers and other gastroenterological medical conditions. For more information or to schedule an appointment at one of our Kentucky or Southern Indiana offices, contact one of our practice locations near you.  

Understanding Crohn’s Disease – An Overview

Sometimes referred to as Ileitis, Crohn’s disease is a chronic condition known to cause inflammation and scarring in the intestinal tract. While the intensity of the symptoms may vary, most people with Crohn’s disease experience uncomfortable abominable pain and cramping along with diarrhea, fatigue, a reduction in appetite, sores in the mouth, and anemia. The condition is often marked by periods of severity or flare-ups, followed by remissions.

Estimates from the Crohn’s & Colitis foundation suggest that upwards of 800,000 Americans suffer from Crohn’s disease, which is sometimes misdiagnosed as ulcerative colitis. 

While anyone can get Crohn’s disease, it tends to run in families, and to be more common among teenagers and young adults from ages 15 to 35 years. Additionally, females are slightly more likely than males to experience the condition. It is also slightly more common in the Caucasian population, and among those identifying as Ashkenazi Jews. Additionally, people who smoke are more likely to get it than nonsmokers. Smoking also can also hinder treatment outcomes and make the symptoms more frequent and severe.

If you or someone you love is suffering from symptoms that may be related to Crohn’s disease, it is important to seek out qualified medical attention from a gastroenterologist like the physicians at Gastroenterology Health Partners. Diagnosing the condition generally involves a variety of tests that may include blood tests, fecal tests, imaging tests including CT or MRI, colonoscopy procedure, endoscopy, and more. 

At present, there is not a cure for Crohn’s disease, but there are a variety of treatment approaches that depend in part on a person’s specific symptoms and the severity of the condition. Sometimes certain medications including anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotics and corticosteroids may provide relief. 

Limiting Crohn’s Disease Flare Ups with a Dietary Approach

People with Crohn’s disease are encouraged to follow specific dietary recommendations to reduce the chance for disease flare ups. This tends to include the following:

  1. Avoid beverages with a lot of carbonation including soft drinks and carbonated waters.
  2. Limit certain high-fiber foods including the skins of vegetables, popcorn and nuts.
  3. Increase fluid intake, especially water.
  4. Drink beverages more slowly and without a straw, in order to avoid ingesting air, which can cause gas.
  5. Focus on eating foods made with basic techniques including boiling, poaching, or steaming.
  6. Avoid artificial sugars like sorbitol and mannitol, often used in sugar free candy and chewing gum.
  7. Limit lactose in milk, soft cheeses, cream cheese, and other dairy products.
  8. Limit foods that have a lot of fat including butter, coconut, cream, fried foods, greasy foods, etc.
  9. Limit beverages that contain caffeine and/or alcohol.
  10. Limit high spice foods, especially hot foods.
  11. Eat more fruits that are lower in fiber like melons (cantaloupe and honeydew) and bananas.
  12. Eat four to six frequent smaller meals a day rather than two or three larger ones.

Since each person’s experience with foods that trigger the condition may be unique, it is also advisable that people with Crohn’s keep some type of food journal to better identify patterns including which foods and beverages cause the most discomfort.

Surgery is also not uncommon for people with Crohn’s disease. In fact, estimates suggest that upwards of three out of four people with Crohn’s require surgery at some time. Though surgery does not provide a cure, it can help to preserve a person’s GI tract enough to provide some essential relief. Surgery is typically a consideration only after a person is no longer able to manage symptoms with dietary practices and medications. It may also be required if a person develops some type of intestinal obstruction, fissure, or fistula.  

For additional information about Crohn’s disease, or to schedule an appointment with an experienced gastroenterologist, contact Gastroenterology Health Partners today by reaching out to a practice location near you. 

If you are suffering from symptoms of a GI condition, the experienced team of medical professionals at Gastroenterology Health Partners is here for you using the most advanced treatment options available. We strive to provide the highest quality, most cost-effective GI care in the region. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact Gastroenterology Health Partners today at a location near you. 

Stomach Pain After Eating? Here Are 7 Things It Could Be

A recent online survey conducted across 26 countries found that 1 in 10 people experience post-meal abdominal pain. Of the 54,000 people who were polled, 13% of women and 9% of men reported frequent gastrointestinal discomfort after eating a meal. Individuals reported bloating, a swollen stomach, feeling full quickly, constipation, and diarrhea. Interestingly, these individuals had twice the rates of anxiety and depression as people who reported no symptoms.

This study illuminates the connection between food and diet, gastrointestinal health, mental health, and chronic gastrointestinal conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome or ulcerative colitis. It suggests the importance of an individualized and multidisciplinary approach to treating digestive disorders. 

If you experience frequent gastrointestinal discomfort after eating food, seek medical help. A gastroenterologist can help diagnose the cause of your symptoms and build an effective treatment plan, based on your unique symptoms. In the meantime, follow along for common causes for stomach pain after eating:

7 Causes For Stomach Pain After Eating

1. Food Allergy or Intolerance. Many people experience food allergies and intolerances that result in persistent gastrointestinal symptoms, such as gas, bloating, cramping, and diarrhea. Common allergens include eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, shellfish, milk, soy, wheat, and more. If symptoms are minor, these conditions can go undiagnosed for years! 

2. IBS. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder that affects the large intestine (colon). IBS can cause bloating, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, constipation, gas, and other negative gastrointestinal symptoms. IBS is chronic and requires managing symptoms, often through dietary changes.

3. Gastritis. Gastritis is a broad term for inflammation/swelling of the stomach lining. It can be caused by infection, overuse of pain medications (NSAIDs), injuries, certain foods, and overuse of alcohol. Gastritis can result in abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and weakness. 

4. Celiac Disease. Celiac Disease is a chronic immune disease that is characterized by an inability to eat gluten. Eating foods with gluten damages the small intestine and immune system of people with Celiac. Symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, bloating, and mood changes. It is often genetic and can be diagnosed with a blood test. 

5. IBD. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) refers to conditions such as Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, which are a result of inflammation of the intestinal tract. Believed to be a result of an abnormal immune response, these conditions can result in symptoms such as cramping, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, persistent diarrhea, fatigue, and blood in stool.

6. GERD.  If you experience pain after eating that is located higher than the stomach and more in your upper abdomen or throat, you may be suffering from acid reflux or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). Symptoms can also include heartburn, nausea, a burning sensation in the throat, or pain with swallowing.

7. You ate too much or ate something that is difficult to digest. Before diagnosing yourself with a food allergy or chronic disease, consider what you ate. Did you eat a very large portion of food? Did you eat acidic, spicy, or fried foods? Perhaps you ate something high in artificial sugar? These types of foods, especially in larger portions, are difficult to digest and can result in negative symptoms for anyone. 

For more information about diagnosing digestive conditions, reach out to Gastroenterology Health Partners (GHP) today. Our clinicians have a passion for seeking out and refining new treatments and advanced solutions for those suffering from disorders of the digestive system. Each of our physicians offers expert specialization, evaluating and treating the entire spectrum of digestive conditions. To learn more about the treatment options available to you, schedule an appointment at one of our locations throughout Louisville, Lexington, and Southern Indiana.

Understanding the Connection Between Exercise and Gastrointestinal Health

While we all know that the foods we consume have a significant impact on gut health, very little is often said for the influence of exercise and activity on the GI system. People usually exercise to get fit, lose weight, or socialize, unaware of the deeper functional benefits of regular activity.

Recent studies have only just begun to unlock insight into the powerful role of exercise in promoting digestion, gastrointestinal health, metabolic capacity, disease prevention, and long-term wellbeing.

Maintaining Regular Exercise is Key

A study conducted at the University of Illinois in 2018 found that regular exercise alters the entire gut microbiome. In the study, previously sedentary participants engaged in daily endurance activities for six weeks. Across the board, participants experienced an increase in both diversity and metabolic capacity of the gut microbiome.

Furthermore, scientists found a widespread increase in short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), a subset of fatty acids that are produced by the gut microbiota. SCFAs are known to reduce inflammation, boost the metabolism, improve the immune system, improve neurogenesis and fight insulin resistance. In short—the more, the better!

After the study ended, participants stopped exercising. Interestingly, within weeks, their gut composition reverted back to how it was before the study. The effects of the exercise did not last. This proves that maintaining regular exercise is vital to improve and upkeep gut health.

The benefits of regular exercise were again reaffirmed in a 2019 study. In this study, insulin response in male participants was tested after no exercise, after one day of exercise, and again after three consecutive days of exercise. Research found that maintaining exercise over three days was significantly more effective at improving insulin response. A single day of isolated exercise had almost no benefit.

Exercise Can Help Prevent Colon Cancer

Regular exercise can also play a role in preventing colon cancer. In one study, exercise was reported to decrease the total number of intestinal polyps by 50% and the number of large polyps by 67%. Another study found that the risk of colon cancer decreased 40% in those who exercised more than 7 hours a week. In turn, over 40% of those diagnosed with colon cancer already suffered from a comorbid disease, such as diabetes, obesity, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and heart failure. The influence of exercise on preventing colon cancer cannot be overstated.

Exercise Doesn’t Have To Be Hard

Many people think that exercise needs to be high-intensity to really count. They push themselves too hard, and then get injured or burned out. We’ve all seen it before—your friend’s New Year’s resolution to go to the gym dissipating within days after they discover they don’t enjoy Pilates or bench pressing.

Exercise doesn’t have to be a big ordeal or a fancy gym membership. As the studies listed above have shown, what matters more than anything is consistency. Whether it be consistently walking 30 minutes a day, doing yoga poses in the morning, or jogging around your neighborhood—all that matters is that you keep it up. Long-term health and wellbeing comes from committing to an active lifestyle, above all else.

For more information about gastrointestinal health or to schedule an appointment with a board-certified gastroenterologist, contact Gastroenterology Health Partners today. Schedule an appointment by calling a location near you. For additional details, visit our contact us page.

Your Gut Health

A healthy digestive system can help you prevent many conditions, and reduce their severity if you do get them. While there are a lot of factors in your individual case that can impact specific advice, there are some general principles that are good to follow in most cases. Here are some important ways you can improve your gut health. 

Food

A lot of gut health starts with what you eat. The advice here is likely something you’ve heard before. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables regularly, and make sure you are eating enough fiber. Fruits and veggies help with the fiber issue, as they provide a good amount of fiber to build healthy bacteria in your gut. Nuts, legumes (think lentils and beans), and seeds are also great sources of fiber and protein as well. 

You should try to avoid red meat, substituting chicken or fish instead, or even going for a vegetarian alternative like tofu. Avoid charred meats as well, which can harm your GI health. Fried foods are also have a negative impact on your gut health. You should additionally moderate your consumption of alcohol and caffeine, as too much of either can be detrimental. 

Probiotics for Gut Health

On the topic of diet and nutrition, you should also be aware of an important ally in your quest for gut health: probiotics. Probiotics are living microorganisms that help your body improve and restore healthy bacteria in your gut. Regularly consume foods with probiotics to help your healthy bacteria flourish. You can find probiotics in foods like yogurt, fermented vegetables, and cottage cheese. Of course, in some cases probiotics may not be the right choice, particularly if you have a condition that weakens your immune system. Make sure to talk to your doctor about how to healthily incorporate probiotics in your diet. 

Exercise, Sleep, and Stress Management

Another piece of the puzzle for gut health is another evergreen health concept: exercise. Regular exercise helps your body in numerous ways. In terms of gut health, it’s particularly helpful for two potential risk factors for gut issues: weight and stress. Exercise is a great, sustainable way to maintain a healthy weight and manage stress. You can work to manage stress in other ways as well. You might consider meditation, relaxation therapy, or other techniques that are proven to help manage stress levels. 

One last key factor for gut health is sleep. Here, like with exercise, it comes back to maintaining a healthy weight. People who do not get adequate sleep are at a higher risk of obesity, which can lead to negative outcomes for gut health. Healthy sleep is multifaceted. In general, you should make sure you have a regular schedule for when you go to sleep and wake up. There are many other steps you can take to improve your sleep hygiene as well.

Our experienced team at GHP has years of experience treating patients with various GI conditions. We can help establish the best plan of care for your situation. Contact any of our office locations to learn about the options we offer and schedule an appointment today.

Colorectal Cancer Disparities and the Importance of Screenings

Did you know? There are significant disparities around colorectal cancer screenings and disease outcomes based on race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and more. For example, in the United States Black and Hispanic people are less likely to get prompt follow up after an abnormal screening results. They are also more likely to be diagnosed with late stage cancer. Additionally, American Indian and Alaska Native people are the only groups where colorectal cancer death rates aren’t declining. You can read our blog post on disparities in colorectal cancer here to learn more about these disparities and the importance of screenings.

Gastro Health Partners strongly believes in early and regular screenings, starting at age 45. Our experienced team at GHP has years of experience screening for colorectal cancer. We can help establish the best plan of care for your situation. Contact any of our office locations to learn about the options we offer and schedule an appointment today.

What is the low FODMAP diet?

The low FODMAP diet is a temporary diet designed to help people with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). In this diet, you tactically remove FODMAP foods to eliminate IBS symptoms, and then slowly add them back in to identify which cause you issues. You can think of it as a short diet that will help identify problem foods to avoid long-term. Today on the blog, we’ll go into detail on the FODMAP diet and how it can help you.

What is FODMAP?

FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. Basically, these are all short-chain carbohydrates (sugars) that you can find in foods. The small intestine may absorb these poorly, causing stress on the digestive system. Many people with IBS are sensitive to some of these sugars, and can experience symptoms like bloating, diarrhea, and cramping if they eat them. This diet is designed to remove foods that contain the sugars to help relieve symptoms first.

Phase 1 of a FODMAP Diet

In the first phase of this diet, you’ll avoid eating certain foods. The foods you remove in a FODMAP diet include milk, honey, fruits, beans, sweeteners, and more. Your medical provider will provide specific guidelines to follow. For this phase, you’ll need to avoid FODMAP foods for 4-6 weeks. This may help eliminate symptoms you’ve had from the foods. For people with a bacterial overgrowth issue in their small intestine, it gives time for the bacteria levels to decrease.

The diet does eliminate a lot of foods you may be used to eating. Some foods you can continue to eat in this phase of the diet include eggs, meat, certain cheeses (like brie), potatoes, grapes, and almond milk.

Phase 2

Phase 2 involves slowly reintroducing certain foods. While Phase 1 is all about eliminating everything and calming down symptoms, Phase 2 is an exploration of what specific foods you react to. The way this usually works is by adding one FODMAP food back into your diet every few days. This gives you time to see if the latest food you added causes any reaction. When you encounter a reaction from a specific food, you will be able to avoid that food long-term with this knowledge.

Effectiveness

The FODMAP diet approach is considered one of the most effective therapies for treating IBS. It reduces symptoms in around 86% of people. However, since it is so restrictive initially, you will need to work with a doctor or dietitian who can coach you on staying healthy while avoiding FODMAP foods. They can provide a full list of FODMAP foods, and provide key guidance while you undergo this therapy. When successful, the long-term dietary changes you make as a result of FODMAP dieting are a powerful tool to reduce IBS and bacterial overgrowth symptoms.

Our experienced team at GHP has years of experience treating for IBS. We can help establish the best plan of care for your situation. Contact any of our office locations to learn about the options we offer and schedule an appointment today.

An Overview of Diverticulitis

Diverticulitis is a condition where pockets formed in the colon wall (called diverticula) become inflamed. Here’s what you need to know about the condition.

Causes and Risk Factors

Diverticula can form when weak areas of the colon give due to pressure, creating pockets in the colon wall. This pressure can be influenced by many things, including diet. If you do not eat enough fiber, waste can build up in your colon and increase pressure on its walls. If these diverticula tear, they can become infected and inflamed.

There are a few notable risk factors for diverticulitis. As previously mentioned, you are at risk if you do not eat enough fiber in your diet. Not eating enough fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and beans can all contribute to low fiber intake. If you have a diet high in fats and red meat your risk increases as well. Exercise is a factor as well- too little regular exercise can increase risk for diverticulitis. NSAIDs like ibuprofen and aspirin can heighten your risk too. Also, people over 40, men, and people who are obese have a higher chance of developing the condition. Overall, this is a very common condition, particularly for people in Western countries as they age.

Symptoms of Diverticulitis

Diverticulitis is characterized by a few symptoms. Abdominal pain in the lower left part of the abdomen is a common symptom. This pain can persist for several days, and may be mild and slowly building or can develop suddenly. Your abdomen may be tender as a result of the pain. Other potential symptoms include nausea, vomiting, constipation, and occasionally diarrhea.

Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention

Abdominal pain is the most common symptom of this condition, and is associated with many other potential issues. As such, doctors typically perform a number of diagnostic steps to determine the underlying issue. They may ask you about your diet, bowel movements, and symptoms. They may also perform a physical exam to investigate abdominal pain and tenderness. Your doctor might want to run blood and urine tests to check for signs of infection. In some cases, they may want to do a stool test as well. They can also order a CT scan to visualize any inflamed or infected diverticula and illuminate the severity of the diverticulitis.

Treating mild diverticulitis usually involves taking prescribed oral antibiotics. You will also need to rest and switch to a liquid diet while your colon heals. In more severe cases, people with complicated diverticulitis are hospitalized and given intravenous antibiotics. Surgery may be warranted if an abscess (a pocket of infection) forms or if there is a colon puncture or fistula. In surgery, doctors remove diseased parts of the colon and reconnect healthy parts of the organ. If infection is widespread, doctors can perform a colostomy to connect the colon to a hole in the abdomen. Doctors attach a bag to the opening where waste can pass.

You can prevent diverticulitis by eating a fiber-rich diet and exercising regularly. Seek out whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. Stay in touch with your doctor if you do have a case of diverticulitis, as they may recommend other steps to prevent recurrence.

Our experienced team at GHP has years of experience treating diverticulitis. We can help establish the best plan of care for your situation. Contact any of our office locations to learn about the options we offer and schedule an appointment today.

Video: Why You Should Get a Colonoscopy After Screening

Did you know you should consider a colonoscopy after screening? Check out our latest video featuring Dr. Sunana Sohi, M.D. to learn more.

 

Click here to watch the video

 

Our experienced team at Gastro Health Partners has years of experience performing colonoscopies. We can help establish the best plan of care for your situation. Visit us online at https://www.gastrohealthpartners.com/ to learn about the options we offer and schedule an appointment today.

Bile Duct Diseases: An Introduction

Bile ducts are tubes that primarily carry bile from the liver and gallbladder to the small intestine to help digest fats.

Several diseases in the bile ducts can prevent proper bile duct functioning. Read along to find out more.

Bile duct disease

There are several bile duct diseases that can occur. Gallstones are one common issue for bile ducts. These form when deposits of digestive fluid harden in the gallbladder. They can cause inflammation, increasing pressure in the gallbladder and potentially blocking a bile duct. Another common bile duct condition is cholangitis, which is inflammation in the bile duct system. This is often caused by a bacterial infection.

Bile ducts can also have strictures (narrowing). In other cases, they can leak. Cancer can also occur in the bile ducts. Bile duct cancer is rare and aggressive. Additionally, some infants are born with a condition called biliary atresia, in which bile ducts are scarred and blocked. This causes a buildup of bile in the liver and can damage it.

Symptoms of Bile Duct Diseases

Bile duct diseases tend to have some of a group of symptoms. These include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, itchy skin, fever, chills, weight loss, loss of appetite, and jaundice. Pain may occur in the upper abdomen and radiate to the back in some cases. Depending on the disease, these symptoms can be at differing levels of severity and present in varied ways. The progression the disease also influences the severity and types of symptoms.

Diagnosis

Doctors diagnose bile duct diseases in a few different ways. Bilirubin blood testing can identify high levels of bilirubin in your bloodstream and can diagnose jaundice. Doctors can perform an Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatogram (ERCP) to diagnose diseases. In an ERCP, they can inject contrast dye to help image your bile ducts during an x-ray. They can also perform an Endoscopic Ultrasound (EUS) to examine your bile ducts and make a diagnosis.

Treatment

Treatments vary depending on the type of bile duct disease. ERCP, in addition to helping with diagnosis, can help treat disease. Doctors can pass tools through the endoscope during an ERCP and open blocked ducts, remove or break up gallstones, insert stents, and even remove tumors. Doctors can also help drain bile during an EUS by inserting a stent to help drain into the small intestine or stomach. One other emerging treatment involves using Radiofrequency Ablation for palliative care to treat the symptoms of bile duct cancer. This can be a way to manage pain for long-term cases of cancer.

Surgery may also be necessary in some cases. For example, with patients who have bile duct cancer, surgery can help to remove tumors. If tumors are very large, doctors may need to remove the liver and perform a liver transplant.

Our experienced team at GHP has years of experience treating conditions including bile duct diseases. We can help establish the best plan of care for your situation. Contact any of our office locations to learn about the options we offer and schedule an appointment today.