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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. 

Why You Need To Add More Fiber To Your Diet

These days, the importance of consuming dietary fiber is fairly common knowledge. Most of us make an effort to add fiber to our diets, whether it be through a fiber-rich cereal or daily multi-vitamin. 

But, even if you’re taking strides to include fiber in your diet, you’re likely not getting enough! On average, Americans eat about 15 grams of fiber a day. That number should be between 25 and 35 grams, or more. And not just from supplements or vitamins, but from whole foods.

Fortunately, there are many ways to incorporate more fiber into your diet. Keep reading to learn about what fiber is, why it matters, and some high-fiber foods to add to your grocery list. 

What Is Fiber?

Dietary Fiber is a carbohydrate found in plants such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains. Unlike other nutrients such as proteins and fats, fiber cannot be digested by the body. It simply passes through the stomach, small intestine, and colon. 

There are two types of dietary fiber: soluble and insoluble. They are important for different reasons, and many foods contain both types. Soluble fibers can be dissolved in water, which helps regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Insoluble fibers cannot be dissolved in water, which adds necessary bulk to stool, promoting regularity of the digestive tract. 

Why Is Fiber Important?

Beyond fiber’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels, balance cholesterol, and promote regularity, adequate fiber consumption has been linked to a reduction in the risk of heart disease, diabetes, certain types of cancer, and many gastrointestinal conditions such as colorectal ulcers, hiatal hernias, gastroesophageal reflux disease, diverticular disease, and hemorrhoids. Plus, by reducing the risk of constipation, fiber helps improve gut health. High fiber foods are also generally healthier and more filling than processed, low-fiber foods. 

Try These High Fiber Foods

High Fiber Fruits

  • 1 cup of Raspberries: 8 grams of fiber
  • 1 Pear: 5.5 grams of fiber
  • 1 Apple: 4.5 grams of fiber
  • 1 Banana: 3 grams of fiber
  • 1 Orange: 3 grams of fiber

High Fiber Vegetables

  • 1 cup of Green Peas: 9 grams of fiber
  • 1 cup of Broccoli: 5 grams of fiber 
  • 1 cup of Turnips: 5 grams of fiber
  • 1 cup of Brussel Sprouts: 4 grams of fiber
  • 1 Potato: 4 grams of fiber

High Fiber Grains

  • 1 cup of Spaghetti: 6 grams of fiber
  • 1 cup of Barley: 6 grams of fiber
  • 1 cup of Quinoa: 5 grams of fiber
  • 1 cup of Oatmeal: 5 grams of fiber
  • 1 cup of Brown Rice: 3.5 grams of fiber

High Fiber Legumes

  • 1 cup of Split Peas: 16 grams of fiber
  • 1 cup of Lentils: 15.5 grams of fiber
  • 1 cup of Black Beans: 15 grams of fiber
  • 1 cup of Baked Beans: 10 grams of fiber

High Fiber Nuts/Seeds

  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of Chia Seeds: 10 grams of fiber
  • 1 ounce of Flax Seeds: 8 grams of fiber
  • 1 ounce of Pumpkin Seeds: 5 grams of fiber
  • 1 ounce of Almonds: 4 grams of fiber
  • 1 ounce of Pistachios: 3 grams of fiber

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. 

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.

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.

A Review of Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome

Cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS) is a condition characterized by recurring periods of severe nausea and vomiting. Read along for a review of the condition. 

Causes and Risk Factors for Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome

Cyclic vomiting syndrome is an uncommon syndrome that can affect a variety of groups of people. In many cases, it begins when children are between the ages of 3 and 7. While it tends to be more common in children, it is actually becoming more common in adults. Doctors don’t know exactly what causes cyclical vomiting syndrome. It could be a result of genetic, hormonal, or other factors. An episode of vomiting can sometimes be triggered by external conditions as well. These can be things like menstruation, seasonal allergies, a cold, hot weather, physical exertion, and eating certain foods. There is also evidence that cyclical vomiting could be linked to migraines- most children with this syndrome have a family history of migraines. In fact, this syndrome may be a migraine variant. 

Symptoms

There are a number of symptoms associated with this syndrome. The condition creates recurring periods of severe nausea and vomiting. These episodes can last anywhere from a few hours to days. Between episodes, people with the condition do not typically experience symptoms, or experience milder symptoms. Episodes tend to be very similar for each individual as well. The episodes often start around the same time, last a similar period of time, and have the same symptoms. Your episodes may start with nausea and sweating at first. You may become so nauseated or experience such severe vomiting that you become incapacitated as well. Other symptoms can include dizziness, headaches, abdominal pain, diarrhea, gagging, sensitivity to light, and a lack of energy. Some children who have cyclical vomiting syndrome outgrow it as they age, but may develop migraines. 

Diagnosing Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome

Doctors diagnose CVS with a combination of an exam, talking through your medical history, and some testing. They will want to know details about your episodes like the symptoms involved and patterns in the episodes to gather information. Your doctors may also perform imaging testing like an endoscopy or a CT scan to visualize your gastrointestinal tract and identify any blockages or other conditions. They can also pursue motility testing to evaluate the movement of food through your body and find any possible digestive disorders. Overall, doctors will use a variety of methods to rule out other potential issues or disorders before diagnosing cyclical vomiting syndrome. 

Complications and Treatment

CVS can cause dehydration, since the body loses fluids due to vomiting. Additionally, the acid from vomit can cause tooth decay. This condition can also cause inflammation in the esophagus due to recurring damage.

Treating this condition involves a combination of managing symptoms and preventing episodes by identifying and avoiding triggers. Your doctor may prescribe anti-nausea medication, stomach acid suppressants, pain relief drugs, or migraine medication to manage symptoms. Additionally, they will work with you to figure out what tends to trigger vomiting episodes. You should avoid the things that tend to cause an episode, whether it’s a particular food, stressor, or environmental factor. Long-term, having a strong support system and a plan for good preventative measures is key to managing CVS.

Our experienced team at GHP has years of experience treating patients with conditions like cyclical vomiting. 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.

 

Sphincter of Oddi Dysfunction

Sphincter of Oddi dysfunction is a condition in which the muscle between the bile duct and pancreatic duct does not open like it should. This results in digestive juice backup. Here’s an overview of the condition. 

Causes and Risk Factors

The sphincter of Oddi is a smooth muscle that surrounds the end of the common bile duct and the pancreatic duct. It opens and closes to allow bile and pancreatic juice to flow into the intestine for digestion. This muscle can develop the inability to properly function in some cases. The exact cause of the condition is unknown, but there are a few things that seem to increase risk. For one, people who have had a gallbladder removal seem to be at a higher risk of this condition. It is also more common in middle-aged women. 

Symptoms of Sphincter of Oddi Dysfunction

A key symptom of this condition is recurring pain attacks in the upper right abdomen. The pain tends to be steady, and may be aggravated by eating fatty foods. It may also worsen with the use of opiates. Given the condition’s association with gallbladder removal, doctors are often on the lookout for these sorts of recurring symptoms for patients who have recently undergone that procedure. If you have undergone a gallbladder removal and have recurring upper abdominal pain, it could be a sign of this condition or another issue. Contact your doctor if you are experiencing recurring pain following the procedure. 

Diagnosis

Doctors diagnose sphincter of Oddi dysfunction in a few different ways. As mentioned before, if you have recently had a gallbladder removal and have recurring upper abdominal pain, doctors may suspect this condition and investigate. There are several noninvasive testing options available. Doctors may order a blood test to measure enzyme levels in the liver and pancreas. They may also perform an ERCP to check the drainage times and functioning of your pancreas and bile ducts. Additionally, they can perform manometry during the ERCP to measure the sphincter’s function by evaluating pressure changes. Manometry is often considered one of the best ways to test for this condition. 

Complications and Treatment

Depending on the specifics of your condition, doctors may pursue different treatment options. In non-severe cases, doctors may first prescribe medication to control pain and prevent spasms. Another treatment option is a sphincterotomy. This is a surgical procedure in which doctors cut the muscle to provide relief and ensure there are no stones in your gallbladder or bile ducts. This is often successful in treating symptoms from the condition. Up to 70% of patients experience long-term pain relief. However, it is a difficult procedure with a significant risk of complications. As many as 5-15% of patients who get this surgery experience complications like mild pancreatitis, and might need to stay in the hospital to recover. It can also cause scarring around the incision. As such, doctors only recommend a sphincterotomy if other treatment options have not been successful. 

Our experienced team at GHP has years of experience treating patients with conditions like sphincter of Oddi dysfunction. 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 Transplant: What You Need to Know

A fecal transplant is a procedure in which stool from a healthy donor is transferred to your GI tract. Here’s an overview of the procedure and what you can expect. 

What is a Fecal Transplant? 

Fecal transplants are used to help treat a bacterial infection condition called C. difficile colitis. This condition involves inflammation in the colon as a result of the C. difficile bacteria being present. It can cause diarrhea, fever, and pain, and can be severe if untreated. In some cases, this condition is a complication of antibiotic treatment- antibiotics may have killed off too many good bacteria in your GI system. It can also be caused by ingestion of the C. difficile bacteria itself. In any case, a fecal transplant can help. Doctors often first attempt to treat C. difficile colitis with antibiotics, but if the condition recurs they may shift to a fecal transplant. 

Before the Procedure

Leading up to a transplant, you will have to meet with your doctor to confirm that it’s the best option. You will need a stool donor as well. In some cases, you may be tasked with finding your own potential donor. There are also organizations that gather qualified donor samples for use. 

Doctors evaluate stool donors through a rigorous screening process. Many factors can disqualify potential donors, including recent antibiotic exposure, a recent tattoo or piercing, a history of drug use, a chronic GI disorder, or a history of high-risk sexual behavior. When a donor is a potential match, doctors will also screen them for infectious pathogens. They perform blood and stool tests to look for things like Hepatitis, HIV, parasites, and multi-drug-resistant organisms.

In the days leading up to the actual procedure, you’ll need to follow a few guidelines as well. You should not take any antibiotics in the two days before the transplant. You will have a liquid diet and will need to take a laxative or enema the night before the procedure as well. Follow your doctor’s specific instructions for the best outcomes. 

During the Fecal Transplant

You will need someone to accompany you on the day of the procedure, as you will be undergoing anaesthetic. Doctors use a colonoscopy as the method to transplant the stool. As such, normal colonoscopy procedures are followed (you can read more here). You’ll be under anaesthesia as doctors use an endoscope to enter your GI tract and perform the transplant. The donor stool is deposited in your colon during this process. This healthy donor stool is then able to help replenish the balance of bacteria in your gut. 

After the Procedure

Since this procedure involves a colonoscopy, you’ll have to recover from sedation immediately after the transplant. It can take around an hour to recover. Once recovered, your doctor will discuss how the procedure went with you. Sedative effects can linger for about a day, so you should avoid making important decisions or operating machinery for 24 hours afterwards. Make sure the person who brought you to the doctor’s office also takes you home, as you should not drive. 

This procedure is highly effective at preventing a recurrence of C. difficile. A number of studies have shown around a 90% rate of success. This is a largely effective treatment option to solve issues with C. difficile colitis long-term. 

Our experienced team at GHP has years of experience treating patients with conditions like C. difficile colitis. 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 a Hiatal Hernia?

A hiatal hernia occurs when part of your upper stomach bulges out through an opening in your diaphragm. Here’s what you need to know about this condition. 

Causes and Risk Factors

Most often, a hiatal hernia is caused by an increase in pressure in the abdominal cavity. This cavity is in the middle of your body and holds many vital organs like your kidneys, liver, and small intestine. Pressure can come from a few things, including physical strain, coughing, vomiting, or strain during a bowel movement. In any case, the pressure causes the stomach to push through the diaphragm in your upper abdomen, causing a hiatal hernia.

People at risk for this include overweight people, smokers, and people over 50. Additionally, some pregnant women develop this condition. However, anyone at any age can develop a hiatal hernia.

Hiatal Hernia Symptoms

It’s fairly common for people with a hiatal hernia to experience no symptoms at all. In many cases, you may not know you have one until your doctor finds one during an exam or procedure for another purpose. This is often the case for smaller hernias that don’t cause issues in your body. However, larger hernias may impede certain functions and are more likely to lead to symptoms. For those who do experience symptoms, some of the most common are GERD-like symptoms including heartburn, regurgitation, acid reflux, and pain in the esophagus. This is because the hernia can allow food and acid to back up into your esophagus. Some other symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, feeling full soon after eating, vomiting blood, or passing black stools. 

Diagnosing a Hiatal Hernia

Doctors diagnose hiatal hernias in a few different ways. They may perform an upper endoscopy to visualize your upper digestive tract and identify any signs of the hernia. Another test they use is called a barium swallow test. Here, you drink a special liquid that coats your digestive tract, which doctors then visualize by taking an x-ray. They can also use esophageal manometry to measure the strength and coordination of your esophagus. 

Complications and Treatment

In the majority of cases, hiatal hernias don’t cause any issues and thus don’t require treatment. If you have GERD-like symptoms, doctors will likely use treatment methods used to manage GERD itself. They may recommend lifestyle changes like decreased portion sizes, losing weight, limiting acidic foods, quitting smoking, and eating well before you lie down to sleep at night. They may also recommend over the counter antacids to neutralize stomach acid, or medications that reduce acid production. 

In some cases, if these treatment methods do not improve your situation or if a hernia is severely constricting your esophagus, you may need surgery. In this procedure, doctors pull your stomach down into your abdomen and improve the valve at the bottom of your esophagus. This provides a long-term solution which prevents food and acid from backing up into your esophagus.  

Our experienced team at GHP has years of experience treating patients with conditions like hiatal hernias. 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.