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Why You Shouldn’t Wait To Get A Colorectal Cancer Screening

Are you on the fence about getting screened for colorectal cancer? Perhaps you think you’re too young to get cancer, or you don’t have a family history of it, or you’re anxious about the procedure. You push off the appointment, allowing yourself to think, “I’ll do it sometime soon…”

When it comes to colorectal cancer screenings, you shouldn’t ever wait. Regular screenings are recommended for those 45 years and older, and even younger if you have certain risk factors. For example, people with certain inherited conditions are at a higher risk for colon cancer, including those with Lynch syndrome and those with adenomatous polyopsis. You are also at higher risk if you suffer from certain inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s colitis, or ulcerative colitis.

Early detection is the key to effectively dealing with colorectal cancer. When detected early, colorectal cancer has a 95% survival rate. However, that rate drops to 25% if the cancer is not detected and spreads to other organs. 

Screening tests aren’t just used to identify existing cancer. Through screening, your doctor may find and eliminate precancerous polyps (abnormal tissue growths) in the rectum or colon, removing them before they even have the chance of becoming cancerous. Between 25-40% of adults in the United States are estimated to have colorectal polyps.

Colorectal Cancer Increases in Younger Populations 

While the overall occurrence of colorectal cancer has dropped in recent years (largely due to a rise in screenings), its rate among younger populations has actually increased. In fact, according to the American College of Gastroenterology, a millennial now has 2 times the risk of getting colon cancer and 4 times the risk of getting rectal cancer than someone from the baby boom generation. Research shows that rates in adults younger than 50 are continually increasing by 2%, every year. Mortality rates are also increasing.

What is causing this alarming change? Researchers attribute higher colorectal cancer rates in younger adults to a number of factors, including higher rates of obesity, more sedentary lifestyles, poor diet, and other environmental factors. A study released this May found a link between the consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks and colorectal cancer in women under 50. According to the study, women who drank two or more servings of sugary beverages had twice the risk of developing early-onset colorectal than those who consumed less. Furthermore, adolescents ages 13-18 who consumed sugary sodas had a 32% risk of eventually developing early-onset colorectal cancer. Research is only beginning to unlock certain lifestyle and dietary factors that play a role in developing colorectal cancer.

Colorectal Cancer and Covid-19

During the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, lockdowns and closings forced many people to cancel or put off every type of screening test. Colorectal screening tests in particular decreased by over 90%. In the following months, the numbers of tests only increased to 50% of what they were before the pandemic began. This drastic decline in testing is associated with troubling data about cancer outcomes. In June 2020, the National Cancer Institute predicted an excess of 10,000 colorectal cancer or breast cancer related deaths in the U.S. over the next 10 years, just because of pandemic-induced delays in testing, diagnoses, and treatments. Remaining up-to-date on testing is more important now than ever. 

If you’re due for a colorectal screening test or appointment, but are concerned about Covid-19 safety, don’t hesitate to book an appointment at Gastroenterology Health Partners. We uphold a number of safety procedures in-office, including mask requirements, cleaning and sanitization practices, disinfecting common spaces, and upholding social distancing when possible. Maintaining your safety is of the highest importance to us, just as is providing you with colorectal screening tests such as colonoscopies, flexible sigmoidoscopies, and more. Give us a call today to schedule your appointment.

Pandemic Alcohol Intake and GI Health

The past year-and-a-half has been incredibly difficult for everyone. From hundreds of millions of deaths to the challenge of lockdowns, social isolation and economic hardship, no one has remained unscathed.

Many people have turned to harmful coping mechanisms to deal with the medical, psychological, and sociological problems brought on by pandemic-related stress. While research is still limited, studies suggest that alcohol consumption has increased greatly. The first week of the pandemic, alcohol sales increased by 54% and online alcohol sales increased by 262%. A cross-sectional survey of American adults published in December 2020 found that 60% of people reported increased drinking. 34% of people engaged in binge-drinking and 7% reported extreme binge-drinking.

The impact of increased alcohol consumption on gastrointestinal health is even more staggering. Studies presented at the 2021 Digestive Disease Week suggest a major surge in inpatient consults for alcohol-related gastrointestinal and liver diseases since the beginning of the pandemic. Waihong Chung, a research fellow for the Division of Gastroenterology at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, conducted extensive research on the subject.

Chung found that during the initial lockdown phase of the pandemic, the number of in-person gastrointestinal appointments decreased by 27% (due to restrictions/closings). However, of those appointments, the proportion of consults for alcohol-related GI and liver diseases, such as hepatitis, pancreatitis, gastritis and cirrhosis increased by 59.6%! And, as lockdowns lifted, that percentage increased to 78.7%. Furthermore, patients with alcoholic hepatitis increased by 127.2% (since 2019) and the number of inpatient endoscopic procedures almost tripled.

Chung also contested that the occurrence of alcohol-related diseases could be much higher than reported, since many illnesses take time to manifest or show mild symptoms. Even if you seem to experience no ill-effects from binge-drinking, you should be aware that excessive alcohol is wreaking havoc on your gastrointestinal system. In the short-term, excessive alcohol causes intestinal inflammation and organ damage, alters intestinal microbiota, harms intestinal immunity and homeostasis, and damages the liver. In the long-term, you can suffer from alcohol-related gastrointestinal and liver diseases.

Unfortunately, the long-term effects of Covid-19 on alcohol misuse and overconsumption still have yet to be realized. For example, following the 2003 SARS epidemic, individuals in China who had been directly affected/involved were far more likely to abuse alcohol three years after the epidemic ended. The lasting psychological effects of the pandemic will likely increase alcohol misuse for years to come.

Besides causing fatal gastrointestinal conditions, alcohol can worsen existing mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. If you or a loved one has been struggling to maintain a healthy relationship with alcohol during the pandemic, it’s recommended that you talk to your primary care doctor or seek medical help. There are behavioral, medical, and mutual-support-based treatment options available for you.

If you are struggling with gastrointestinal issues, induced by alcohol or by something else, seek experienced medical attention. The professional team of medical providers at Gastro Health Partners serves patients across the state of Kentucky and Southern Indiana. Contact a location near you today for more information, or to schedule an appointment.

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.

Hirschsprung’s Disease: An Overview

Hirschsprung’s disease is a congenital condition that affects the large intestine. Here’s what you need to know. 

Causes and Risk Factors

Hirschsprung’s disease occurs when a baby is born missing nerve cells in their colon. Due to these missing nerve cells, they develop issues passing stool. While we do know that it’s a condition people are born with, the exact cause is not known. In some cases, it does occur in families. In fact, if one parent has the condition, their child has an increased chance of having the condition as well. In families with a child that has Hirschsprung’s disease, there’s between a 3% and 12% chance that if the parents have another baby, the baby will have the condition. 

Being a male is another risk factor for the condition. People with inherited conditions like Down’s syndrome and congenital heart disease are also at a higher risk of Hirschsprung’s disease. 

Symptoms

This condition can vary in severity, and as such so can its symptoms. In general, symptoms tend to appear right after birth. One well-known sign of the condition is if a newborn is unable to have a bowel movement within 48 hours of being born. Other common symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting a green or brown substance, constipation, gas, and a swollen belly. Newborns are likely to be fussy if they have some of these symptoms. Older children with the condition can have some of the same symptoms, and others including fatigue, chronic constipation, and a failure to thrive. 

Diagnosing Hirschsprung’s Disease

As noted before, one key sign your child could have this condition is if they are unable to have a bowel movement in the first couple of days after birth. Your doctor will also perform a physical exam to check the child’s condition. They can perform a number of other tests as well. They can take a biopsy, a tissue sample, of your child’s colon to send off for lab testing to determine if there are nerve cells present or not. They can also insert contrast dye into your child’s bowel and perform an X-ray to visualize their colon. They can then check to see if there is a narrow section of the bowel (a section without nerves) and a swollen section behind it, a sign of Hirschsprung’s disease. 

Treatment

The most common way doctors treat this condition is through surgery. The pullthrough procedure is the most common approach, and can be done in a few ways. Ultimately, doctors first work to remove the abnormal part of the colon. They then attach the healthy section of the colon to the anus. Today, this is most often done through a laparoscopic surgery which is minimally invasive and results in fewer complications for children with the condition. The surgery leads to very positive outcomes in the majority of cases, and can fully treat the condition. 

There are some potential complications from surgery. Children can experience diarrhea, fecal incontinence, a delay in toilet training, and constipation. In some cases, these complications resolve over time. Children who have had this surgery are also at a higher risk of a bowel infection up to a year after the surgery. 

Our experienced team at GHP has years of experience treating patients with various GI conditions including Hirschsprung’s Disease. 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.

Fecal Incontinence

Fecal incontinence is a condition in which you are unable to control bowel movements. Here’s what you need to know. 

Causes and Risk Factors

Many things can cause fecal incontinence, and may occur in combination. For example, nerve damage in the rectum or anal sphincter, which can occur during childbirth, may be a cause. Muscle damage in the anal sphincter, also possible during childbirth, may prevent you from being able to hold stool back. Diarrhea can also be a cause, as loose stool is more difficult to retain in the rectum. Other potential causes include aging, hemorrhoid surgery, rectal prolapse, and IBS. 

Risk factors for fecal incontinence include being older than 65, being female, having late-stage dementia or Alzheimer’s, having a condition that causes nerve damage, and having a physical disability. If more than one of these apply to you, you have a heightened risk of developing the condition. 

Symptoms of Fecal Incontinence

With fecal incontinence, you are unable to control bowel movements. In some cases, this may be temporary due to having diarrhea, while in other cases it may be a chronic condition. Urge incontinence is one type of the condition, in which you may feel the sudden urge to defecate and are unable to control your bowels. In another case, called passive incontinence, you may not feel the urge to pass stool and pass it unknowingly. Fecal incontinence can be accompanied by other symptoms like diarrhea, gas, constipation, and bloating. 

Often times, people feel emotional distress as a result of having fecal incontinence. They are often reluctant to tell their doctor about the condition due to the social taboo around it. If you do experience fecal incontinence, please talk to your doctor- they can help you manage the condition. 

Diagnosis

Your doctor can diagnose fecal incontinence in several ways. They will start out by asking you about your symptoms and medical history, before performing a visual exam. Your doctor will likely visually examine your anus first. They can also perform a digital rectal exam, whereby they evaluate the strength and coordination of your sphincter muscles. They can also perform an anal manometry test to evaluate the function of your rectum. To visualize your sphincter and rectum, they can also perform other tests like a colonoscopy, an MRI, or anorectal ultrasonography. 

Treatment 

Doctors treat fecal incontinence based on what is causing the condition in your case. If there is a particular food that is causing diarrhea and incontinence, they will help you work to identify and remove it from your diet. If you have diarrhea or constipation, your doctor may recommend increasing your fiber intake through your diet or through supplements. They may also recommend bowel training if muscle damage is at play; here, you will work to exercise and strengthen the affected muscles to help you better control bowel movements. 

In some cases, you may need surgery. Doctors can perform a number of procedures to help repair muscle damage, nerve damage, and other underlying causes of incontinence. 

Our experienced team at GHP has years of experience treating patients with various GI conditions including fecal incontinence. 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.

 

COVID-19 and the GI System

Back in August 2020, we first explored how a COVID-19 infection could affect your GI system. There was very little data to work with at the time, as the pandemic was largely still unfolding across the United States and across the world. 

Since then, much has happened with the pandemic. Now, at a time when vaccinations are widespread in the United States, case counts are ever decreasing, and more of the country starts to open back up, we’re going to take another look at the evidence around COVID-19 and its effects on the GI system. Here’s what the best evidence shows today. 

GI Symptoms in People with COVID-19

Over the past year and a half or so, well over 100 million people around the world have gotten the coronavirus. Researchers have been able to perform numerous studies to examine different aspects of the disease and its impact on communities globally. One study published in September 2020 found that 53% of people hospitalized with COVID-19 experienced at least one GI symptom. 

In our previous post on COVID-19, we noted that research on COVID-19 patients who were ill in March and April of 2020 found several common symptom clusters. One of these clusters was primarily characterized by GI symptoms, and several others included GI symptoms. 

Disease Outcomes when GI Symptoms are Present

An emergent insight from the past year and a half of research is that people with COVID-19 who have GI symptoms seem to be more likely to have more severe disease outcomes. A number of different studies, each focusing on different populations, have found the following: 

Why COVID-19 Causes GI Symptoms

Clearly, the coronavirus attacks the body in a way that implicates the GI system. Scientists have learned more about exactly how this happens, and thus why GI symptoms seem to be fairly common and significant. 

The coronavirus infiltrates cells in the intestine through the ACE-2 receptor, which is a protein in cell membranes. The virus’ spike proteins bind to this receptor and enter the cell. Once in the cell, the virus reproduces itself. When it leaves infected cells, it causes a release of cytokines, proteins that help fight inflammation in your body. When the virus causes too many cytokines to be released, they can damage your GI system and cause symptoms. The coronavirus can also attack your GI system directly in other ways. It may damage tissues, disrupt your gut microbiota, and impact your vagus nerve (which can lead to nausea).   

We hope this overview sheds some light on the recent discoveries of how COVID-19 impacts the GI system.

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.

 

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.

A Review of Primary Biliary Cholangitis

Primary Biliary Cholangitis (PBC) is a chronic liver disease that causes damage to the bile ducts in the liver. Read on to learn more about this condition.

Causes and Risk Factors

PBC is considered to be an autoimmune disease. This means your body perceives your liver as invasive and attacks it. Your body’s T cells, which fight off bacteria and viruses, end up damaging cells in the bile ducts in your liver.

This condition may be caused by environmental factors as well as genetic factors. It is more likely to occur in women, people between 30 and 60, people who smoke, people with a family member who has PBC, and people who have been exposed to certain chemicals. Sex is one of the primary risk factors: around 90% of people with PBC are women.

Symptoms

PBC causes a few symptoms. These include intense itching, elevated cholesterol levels, swollen feet and ankles, musculoskeletal pain, darkening of the skin, and abdominal pain. In general, these symptoms develop gradually, and most people with PBC do not have symptoms when doctors diagnose them with the condition. Symptoms tend to develop over 5 to 20 years, becoming more significant over time.

Diagnosing Primary Biliary Cholangitis

In most cases, doctors diagnose PBC incidentally during a routine checkup or other medical visit. This is because symptoms tend to develop very slowly, and are often not present in the early stages of the disease. In many cases, your doctor may discover an abnormal result in a routine blood test, which leads them to further testing. If they do suspect you may have PBC, they will likely give you a blood test to measure anti-mitochondrial antibodies (AMAs). Doctors consider this the go-to test for PBC, since people almost never have AMAs present in their blood unless they have PBC. If your doctor does discover AMAs through the testing, that is a sign you likely have the condition.

Your doctor will also ask you about your medical history, along with your family’s medical history. This is to help determine if the disease may be present in your family already, which is a risk factor for you having it.

Treating Primary Biliary Cholangitis

There is no cure for PBC, but there are several treatments doctors can pursue to help manage your symptoms and disease progression. Over the long term, PBC can lead to liver failure since it damages your liver slowly over many years. If your liver fails, you will need a liver transplant, which is a major surgery.

To help mitigate damage, your doctor may prescribe a medication called ursodiol. This is a natural bile acid that can help bile flow through your liver more effectively. It can improve your liver function and reduce scarring. It is an effective treatment for a little over half of people with PBC.

There are many treatment options to address the symptoms of PBC as well. Your doctor may recommend antihistamines like Benadryl to help with intense itching, and eye drops to help with dry eyes. They may also prescribe calcium and Vitamin D to help maintain your bone strength, and if you have fatty stools there are other vitamin supplements they may recommend.

There are a number of lifestyle changes you can make to help manage PBC as well. These include avoiding alcohol or lowering your intake, staying hydrated, exercising regularly, and avoiding smoking. You can combine these kinds of lifestyle changes with your medications to manage PBC and improve your health outlook long-term.

Our experienced team at GHP has years of experience treating patients with conditions including PBC. 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.

Dyspepsia

Dyspepsia, also known as indigestion, is a common condition. Here’s what you need to know.

Causes and Risk Factors of Dyspepsia

Dyspepsia can be caused by a number of things. Acid reflux and stomach ulcers can both irritate the lining of your stomach, leading to burning pain in your upper chest that is associated with indigestion. In the case of acid reflux, stomach acid backs up into your esophagus and causes indigestion. Some over the counter pain relievers like ibuprofen and aspirin can also cause similar issues.

Functional dyspepsia, which is recurring indigestion that doctors can’t find a clear cause for, has a number of risk factors. Women, people who smoke, people with anxiety or depression, and people with h. pylori infection tend to have a higher risk.

Symptoms

In general, there are a few symptoms that define this condition. These include a burning pain in the upper abdomen, bloating, feeling full quickly while eating, nausea, and vomiting. In many cases, these symptoms can occur after eating. However, they may also occur at other times. Most of the time symptoms are intermittent, tending to come and go.

There are a few serious symptoms to look out for. If you experience shortness of breath, bloody vomit, unexplained weight loss, or tarry stools, seek medical attention as soon as you can. These can be signs of more serious conditions.

Diagnosing Dyspepsia

Since indigestion can be caused by so many things, your doctor diagnosis it by first talking through your symptoms and medical history. They may perform diagnostic testing to figure out the exact cause as well. These tests may include blood tests, breath testing, or stool tests if they suspect a bacterial infection could be present. They can also perform an upper endoscopy to visualize your upper digestive tract and identify the cause of your indigestion. During this procedure, they may also take a biopsy to get a closer look at any potential issues.

Treatment and Prevention

There are several lifestyle changes and medications that can help with dyspepsia. Your doctor may recommend quitting smoking, eating smaller meals slowly throughout the day, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, and managing stress and anxiety. You may also try to avoid foods that tend to cause your symptoms. If stress, anxiety, or depression seems to be a cause of your symptoms, you may consider working with a therapist or another mental health professional to develop skills that improve your mental health. All of these behaviors can help improve your symptoms. They are also important preventative steps you can take to prevent dyspepsia from recurring long-term.

Your doctor may also recommend over the counter or prescription medication to help. The specific medication they recommend will depend on your symptoms. This can help with everything from acid reflux, bloating, nausea, and gas to depression and anxiety.

Our experienced team at GHP has years of experience treating patients with conditions including dyspepsia. 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.

Colonic Ischemia: What You Need to Know

Colonic ischemia is a condition where blood flow in the colon is reduced. It can cause damage to the affected area of the colon. Here’s everything you need to know about this condition. 

Causes and Risk Factors

Colonic ischemia, as noted above, causes diminished blood flow in the colon. This can be caused by a number of things. Your risk increases if you have fatty buildups on an artery wall (atherosclerosis), extremely low blood pressure (often due to trauma, shock, surgery, or heart failure), or use cocaine or methamphetamine. Some disorders like lupus and sickle cell anemia can also be a cause of this condition. 

Colonic ischemia is more common in adults over 60 and in women. If you have had abdominal surgery, scar tissue from the procedure can also reduce blood flow in some cases. Additionally, people with IBS are more likely to develop colonic ischemia. 

Symptoms of Colonic Ischemia

Some of the most typical symptoms involved with this condition include abdominal pain or tenderness. This can be severe in some cases, and may also build gradually or occur suddenly. You can experience symptoms on the right or left side of your abdomen. Other symptoms also include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, blood in your stool, and a feeling of urgency to defecate. 

Diagnosis

This condition is difficult to diagnose because its symptoms are also associated with a number of other disorders. Doctors diagnose colonic ischemia with a combination of medical history, a physical exam, and some testing procedures. They often start by charting your symptoms and identifying any potential risk factors. Your doctor may also check your abdominal area to identify the location of any pain. They may choose to order a CT scan to help visualize your colon and identify the cause of the symptoms. They may also perform a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy to see detailed images of your colon and potentially take a tissue biopsy. All of these tests are ways they can get at the underlying cause of your symptoms.  

Treating Colonic Ischemia

Doctors treat this condition by helping proper blood flow return to the colon. In milder cases, this may just involve an IV to help you rehydrate. Your doctor may also prescribe antibiotics to prevent infections, and may suggest you avoid medications that constrict your blood vessels. If there is a specific underlying disorder that has caused colonic ischemia (like an irregular heartbeat), your treatment will involve treating that disorder. 

In some cases, you may also need surgery to heal. This is for severe cases where your colon has undergone significant damage. Depending on your situation, doctors may repair any holes in your colon, remove dead tissue, or remove a portion of your colon. 

Our experienced team at GHP has years of experience treating patients with conditions including colonic ischemia. 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.