Our Gastroenterology Blog
By GI ASSOCIATES
June 22, 2017
Category: Gastroenterology
Tags: Colonoscopy   colon cancer  

Colonoscopy: An Important Colon Cancer Screening Procedurecolonoscopy, colon cancer

A colonoscopy allows your doctor to examine the lining of your large intestine or colon for any abnormalities.  During a colon cancer screening in Wausau, WI, a thin flexible tube is inserted and slowly advances through the GI tract into the rectum and colon. Known as the colonoscope, your doctor can view images on a video monitor with ease. Polyps or abnormal growths in the colon lining may be found that can be removed during this important cancer screening procedure.

Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Known as the silent killer, there are usually no warning signs.  At age 50 all adults are urged to get screened.

More about Colon Cancer Screenings in Wausau, WI

For most patients, there is no pain during this procedure. Patients may feel cramping, bloating or pressure after the colonoscopy. If your doctor thinks something needs further evaluation, they may obtain a biopsy and take a sample to be analyzed. After a colon cancer screening in Wausau, WI, one of our board certified gastroenterologists professionals from GI Associates & GI Associates Endoscopy Center will explain the results of your procedure with you. Further information about diet and activities will be given to you too. You will need a ride since you are given a sedative during the procedure, which makes it unsafe for you to drive for the rest of the day. In general, there are few complications associated with a colonoscopy, but bleeding at the site of a polyp or biopsy sample removal is the most common. To schedule this important screening procedure with one of our professionals, call 877-442-7762 today.

By GI Associates
May 19, 2017
Category: blog
Tags: Produce; Diet  

Fruits and vegetables taste the best—and cost the least—when they are in season. Spring, summer, and fall all offer waves of delicious in-season produce. Make it your mission to hit the farmers markets, or even just your grocery store, to take advantage of tasty, healthy savings.
 

But what happens when you’re up to your eyeballs in Swiss chard? How much kale can you expect your family to eat in one week? And it’s great all that broccoli only cost a dollar, but now what are you going to do with it? Try these tips to get the most out of your food. After all, that package of strawberries does you no good if it ends up in the garbage can.

 

Think Outside the Oven: When the weather is nice enough for a bountiful produce section, chances are it’s nice enough to grill! Grilling is a great way to infuse otherwise boring vegetables with a bit more flavor and interest. Experiment with grill baskets or kebabs and pair a host of grilled veggies with some grilled chicken for the ultimate healthy meal from the grill.
 

Sauce What’s in Season: Especially good for picky eaters, chopping and dicing vegetables and sneaking them into your favorite pasta sauce is a great way to use a lot of your fresh produce. Also try adding them as a layer or two in your signature lasagna recipe.
 

Freeze It: Not all fruits and veggies freeze well, but the ones that do—like hearty green vegetables and fruits like apples and strawberries—can be enjoyed year-round. Save money later on by using your frozen food in the winter months, when prices increase and produce selection decreases.
 

Sip More Smoothies: Another great use for your stock of frozen produce, smoothies are a great solution to an overflowing fridge or freezer. Splash some almond milk in a blender, add whatever you have on hand, from kale to kiwi, and enjoy the best way to drink your vitamins.
 

Start a Harvest Table: Talk to your church, community center, or schools about setting up a “Harvest Table.” Perhaps your garden is chock full of zucchini, while someone else was blessed with more tomatoes than one family could ever eat. Share the wealth by establishing a place to leave and take produce as it comes in season.
 

For more ways to incorporate seasonal fruits and vegetables in an acid-reflux-friendly diet, try these recipes!

Nothing ruins a block party, backyard BBQ, or Fourth of July cookout like accidental food poisoning. When the weather is warmer, it’s natural to want to get out and enjoy it as often as possible, but this can often mean dangerous consequences when it comes to food. Read these tips and have a happier, healthier summer!

1. Limit Sun Exposure: Too much sun is not good for you, and it’s not good for your food, either. Two hours is the maximum amount of time food should be sitting out—half that time if the temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Bacteria thrive when food sits out in the warm summer sun. Don’t let your potato salad become a petri dish. Keep time limits on sun exposure.

2. Keep Chilled: Separate coolers, lots of ice. Your car can quickly become way too hot for foods that are stored there without protection. Keep your food in coolers with plenty of ice. Even better if you can use a number of smaller coolers to prevent cross-contamination.

3. Never Mix, Never Worry: Raw meat stays solitary! Don’t let raw foods like chicken or ground beef anywhere near their cooked counterparts. It takes just a minuscule amount of exposure to contaminate your food and ruin your day—or longer—with food poisoning.

4. Grill Like a Pro: There’s nothing better than burgers on the grill—unless you count safely prepared burgers on the grill. Undercooked meat can be as dangerous as raw meat. Cook burgers, chicken, and shrimp thoroughly. You don’t have to burn foods to a crisp, but do make sure that they are done well, if not “well done.”

5. Wash your hands. Always. This is perhaps the single most important tip for your best health. Wash your hands. Before handling food, after handling food, and before eating food. Always wash your hands, even if it's not handy. In a pinch, try hand sanitizer or wipes, but nothing beats good old soap and hot water.

Foodborne illnesses that were once deadly have been given the slip in recent history, thanks to modern refrigeration and a better understanding of bacteria. But when you bring food outside or don’t prepare it properly, food poisoning can occur even today. Stay alert and follow these tips to have fun in the sun without having to worry about picnic poisoning.

By GI Associates
May 02, 2017
Category: blog
Tags: Constipation   Diet  

Constipation is like a leaky roof: you only remember it’s a problem when it rains. And so often in the case of constipation, we only think about it when we are experiencing it. Fortunately, there are a lot of things we can do to stay regular and avoid the discomfort of constipation—it’s as easy as planning your next meal.
 

Constipation becomes more of an issue as you age. It can also happen when you’re on certain medications, are dehydrated, or don’t get enough exercise. In addition to drinking plenty of water and staying active, try to incorporate a healthy amount of fiber in your diet. And if you think that means loading up on whole grains, think again! There are a lot of surprisingly tasty foods that will put you on the path to regularity.
 

1. Beans, especially black and Lima: Beans pack an amazing fiber punch and are especially filling. Sneak them into your favorite stews or other hearty recipes for a fiber-fueled meal.

2. Artichokes: With about 10 grams of fiber for each cooked artichoke, this is the leader in fiber content among vegetables. Great on veggie pizzas or on their own, drizzled with a little olive oil and garlic, artichokes add a sophisticated flair to your fiber routine.

3. Avocados: There isn’t much an avocado can’t do; in addition to being loaded with nutrients and healthy fats, the avocado shines when it comes to fiber content. Avocados can make any meal better.

4. Whole-wheat pasta: Pasta addicts rejoice. You can enjoy your favorite pasta dishes and boost your fiber intake when you swap regular pasta for whole wheat. Feel free to “ease in” to the transition by replacing half the pasta with healthier whole wheat and increasing each time you make the dish.

5. Berries, especially blackberries and raspberries: For a high fiber dessert, use plenty of blackberries and raspberries. Antioxidants and fiber abound in these guys and make a sweet finish to your favorite meals.

Staying regular doesn’t necessarily have to mean dramatic lifestyle changes like giving up your favorite foods or starting medication. Simply add more fiber to your meals and start seeing better results sooner. 

For more information on constipation and other treatments to try, visit: http://www.giassoc.org/constipation-in-adults.html

By GI Associates
April 26, 2017
Category: blog
Tags: Hepatitis C; Liver  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hepatitis C diagnoses are on the rise—especially among Baby Boomers. Here are the 7 things everyone, and Baby Boomers in particular, need to know about this disease. 
 

  1.  Baby Boomers are at the highest risk: Three in four people diagnosed with Hep C is a Baby Boomer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suspects this is because transmission of the disease was highest during the 1960s, 70s, and 80s.
     
  2. Hepatitis C is a liver disease: According to the CDC, it results from infection with the hepatitis C virus. Some people who are infected are able to get rid of the virus, but most develop a long-term infection.
     
  3. Most people don’t know they are infected: Symptoms are not always obvious. Many people can go decades without getting sick. Discovery of the disease is often a result of other routine testing.
     
  4. It’s spread though contact with blood from a contaminated person: Prior to 1992, infected blood was present in medical blood supplies. Additionally, shared needles, accidental sticks with a contaminated needle, or other equipment used to inject drugs may have contributed to the spread of the disease.
     
  5. Hepatitis C can cause serious health problems: In fact, it has surpassed HIV/AIDS in mortality. It’s the leading cause of liver cancer and the biggest reason for liver transplants.
     
  6. It’s getting easier to treat: Some people (about 15-25%) are able to clear themselves of the virus. Medical professionals don’t yet understand why this happens to some and not others, but even so, new treatments are available and the disease is much more manageable than in the past.
     
  7. Get screened sooner rather than later: As with so many diseases, early detection is key to more favorable outcomes.

Hepatitis C can happen to anyone, but Baby Boomers are especially at risk. In fact, you may have the disease and not even know it. Luckily, awareness is on the rise, and increasing numbers of people are getting screened. Check out this link for more information: http://www.hepchope.com/. Get educated, get screened, and stay ahead of Hep C.

By GI ASSOCIATES
April 12, 2017
Category: Gastroenterology
Tags: GERD  

Find out if your heartburn could actually be due to gastroesophageal reflux disease.

A lot of people describe having occasional bouts of heartburn or acid reflux. You may notice it after eating particular foods. You may gerdexperience it if you eat right before bedtime. If you are dealing with these symptoms a couple times a week or if they are affecting your quality of life then it may be time to turn to one of our gastroenterologists to learn more.

What is GERD?

Every time you swallow food your stomach produces acid to aid in digestion. In a healthy gastrointestinal system, a valve opens to allow food and liquid to pass from the esophagus to your stomach. In those with GERD, the valve may not close fully or may open too often, which can cause stomach acids to travel back up into the esophagus. If this happens regularly, the lining of the esophagus can become irritated and even damaged.

What are the symptoms?

While everyone will probably experience heartburn at some point during their lifetime, if you have GERD you will likely deal with frequent or persistent heartburn. Everybody is different when it comes to their symptoms. Other frequent symptoms of GERD include:

  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Problems swallowing
  • Belching
  • Hoarseness
  • Chronic bad breath
  • A sour or bitter taste in the mouth

When should I see a gastroenterologist?

It isn’t always easy to know when it’s time to visit the specialists at GI Associates. Of course, if you’ve been dealing with heartburn that occurs two or more times during the week, if your heartburn is getting worse, if you have trouble swallowing or if heartburn wakes you up at night then it’s important that you get your symptoms evaluated.
   
How is GERD treated?

The goal of treatment is to reduce the symptoms and you’re your esophagus a chance to heal. You may need to make be lifestyle changes such as changing what and when you eat, sleep positioning and potentially weight loss if obesity is a factor.
Certain medications may also be prescribed to help you manage your symptoms and to help repair the damage done to the esophagus. Surgery is only recommended when all other treatment options have failed.

Are you dealing with nagging, gnawing heartburn that just doesn’t seem to go away? If so, then it’s time you turned to the experts at GI Associates in Wausau, Stevens Point, Woodruff, Eagle River, Rhinelander and Antigo, WI, to get the answers and treatment you need.

By GI Associates
February 24, 2017
Category: blog

When your red blood cell (RBC) count is lower than normal, that means you have anemia. Iron deficiency anemia is the most common type of anemia. It occurs when your body doesn’t have enough iron. Because iron is responsible for producing hemoglobin, which carries oxygen to your body’s tissues, a lack of iron will lead to a lack of oxygen in your body.

Some people have iron deficiency anemia for years before symptoms show up. Call your healthcare provider if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Cravings for non-food items such as dirt, ice, and clay

While the symptoms of iron deficiency anemia are similar for most people, the causes can vary. Here are 4 causes of iron deficiency anemia:

  1.    Blood Loss

Blood loss can cause a deficiency in iron because each milliliter of red blood cells contains one milligram of iron. Heavy menstruation, blood donation, nosebleeds, and internal bleeding including the GI tract can all cause a reduction in iron levels.

  1.    Diet

Our body absorbs iron through the foods we eat from the GI tract. Foods like red meat, pork, seafood, dark green leafy vegetables, and iron-fortified cereals are high in iron. Make sure to eat or drink foods high in vitamin C alongside the iron-rich foods because they will help you efficiently absorb the iron. Find a healthy balance – too much iron in your diet can cause unwanted side effects.

  1.    Inability to Absorb Iron

Certain disorders or conditions can interfere with your body’s ability to absorb iron. Celiac disease, gastric bypass surgery, and bacterial infections can limit your intake of iron, so check with your healthcare provider if you have any of these conditions.

  1.    Pregnancy

Expecting mothers and their future infants require higher levels of iron throughout pregnancy, an incident of severe blood loss to cause damage. Blood loss during pregnancy and childbirth can have a debilitating effect on a child’s development as well as have negative implications for the mother. Consult with your healthcare provider to learn about iron supplements during pregnancy.

 

Contact your healthcare provider if you’re experiencing symptoms related to iron deficiency anemia or want to learn more information about what you can do to increase your iron levels.

Call 877-442-7762 to schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist at GI associates or visit www.giassoc.org/iron-deficiency-anemia.html for more information.

By GI Associates
February 13, 2017
Category: blog
Tags: digestion; Stress  

Digestion is controlled by the enteric nervous system, a system composed of the same neurotransmitters that make up the central nervous system. Because the brain and spinal cord are the communication centers of the central nervous system, stress can cause your digestion to come to a complete halt or move at a faster speed than normal. If you’re in a dangerous situation, for example, your body will stop digestion so it can focus its energy on the immediate threat.

It works the other way around, too. Issues with digestion can cause an increase in anxiety or stress in any normal situation.

If you’re experiencing problems with digestion due to stress, here are 4 ways to decrease the stress in your life for better digestive health.

1. Exercise

Exercise is a great way to release positive chemicals in your brain and reduce your stress levels. Try to get some form of moderate exercise for at least 30 minutes per day, like walking, running, lifting weights, yoga, or playing sports. Make sure to exercise in the morning or daytime because if you exercise too close to bedtime you will lose sleep and be even more stressed the next day.

2. Sleep

Speaking of sleep, it can have a huge impact on your stress levels. Getting 7 – 9 hours of sleep per night is recommended – anything less than that can cause a decrease in brain function, resulting in stress in other areas of your life.

3. Diet

In times of stress, it can feel good to grab a box of donuts or chow down on some candy. Unfortunately, although junk food can give you temporary satisfaction, it will cause more long-term stress on your digestion and mind. A healthy diet allows your body to function to the best of its ability, giving you a decreased risk of stress.

4. Talking

Sometimes talking to someone can be the simplest solution in stressful situations. Whether it’s a friend, family member, or therapist, talking about what is stressing you out can feel like a weight lifted off your chest, and will help you avoid digestive issues.

Because stress is directly related to problems with digestion, try some of these tips to decrease the stress in your life. Your body and mind will thank you!

For more information about improving your digestive health, schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist at GI Associates by calling 877-442-7762 or visit giassoc.org.

By GI ASSOCIATES
January 31, 2017
Category: Gastroenterology
Tags: Pancreatitis  

Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas, a small organ in the upper abdomen attached to the duct which drains bile from the gall pancreatitisbladder into the GI tract.  When the pancreas gets inflamed for any number of reasons, pain and other symptoms can occur.

Causes of Pancreatitis

There are two types of this condition; acute and chronic pancreatitis.  Acute pancreatitis occurs when there is inflammation of the pancreas causing acute pain in the upper abdomen, which can be severe.  There are many causes of acute pancreatitis but in the US, gallstones and alcohol are the main causes.  Gallstones can lead to the development of the pancreatitis when they create a blockage of both the bile duct and pancreas duct. Other causes include medication reactions, infections, trauma, Cystic Fibrosis, genetics (family history), and high levels of triglycerides or calcium.

Chronic pancreatitis means that there is scarring and ongoing inflammation of the pancreas. This typically happens after several episodes of acute pancreatitis, though can be diagnosed without a known previous history of acute pancreatitis. Chronic pancreatitis can lead to daily abdominal pain, diarrhea, and weight loss.

If abdominal pain doesn't seem to go away or steadily worsens, you should contact your primary care provider for evaluation. In some instances severe pain may require a trip to the emergency room for evaluation.  A gastroenterologist is usually consulted when a patient presents with these symptoms.

Common symptoms include:

•       Abdominal pain

•       Nausea

•       Vomiting

•       Yellowing of the skin

How a Gastroenterologist Can Assist You

Lab tests looking at pancreatic enzymes can be an indicator of whether or not a patient has acute pancreatitis. Other imaging tests such as ultrasounds and x-rays can look for gallstones in the gallbladder and a CT scan will often show inflammation around the pancreas.  After the diagnosis is made (if applicable), the cause should be identified so the appropriate treatment can be started.

Pancreatitis is almost always quite painful but can also be life-threatening in severe cases and so it’s important that signs of pancreatitis are not ignored.

If you or your family have concerns about pancreatitis or other digestive health concerns, contact our office to make an appointment.  Our gastroenterologists, Nurse Practitioners and Physician assistants offer services in Wausau, Stevens Point, Woodruff, Eagle River, Rhinelander and Antigo.  Call GI Associates at (877) 442-7762.

The holidays are a time of friends, family, and indulging in feasts, treats, and goodies. If you have acid reflux, however, the holidays can be a time of pain and discomfort. Here are 8 foods you should avoid over the holidays to dodge heartburn and enjoy your time with loved ones.

1.Halloween Candy

You might still have stashes of Halloween candy lying around during the holidays. Because many types of candy are acidic, especially chocolate, try to curb those urges and opt for a healthier snack like salad, oatmeal, or banana.

2.Gravy

Gravy might be delicious – but it’s also greasy and high in fat. As good as gravy might be, try to avoid it completely.

3.Cranberry Sauce

Some people like cranberry sauce and others like whole cranberries. Either way, the acidity in cranberries will trigger your heartburn and cause you to miss out on the rest of dinner.

4.Turkey Skin

Turkey is a popular main course during the holidays. While the meat is healthy and won’t affect your heartburn too much, the fatty skin on the meat will. Make sure to cut the skin off before digging in to the main dish.

5.After-Dinner Drinks

Who doesn’t love a cup of decaf coffee or glass of wine after dinner? Unfortunately, most of these beverages are quite acidic. Although it’s tempting to enjoy a nightcap with friends and family, it’s best to stick with a glass of water.

6.Ice Cream

Most dairy products can be a trigger for acid reflux. If you’re going to have a slice of apple pie after dinner, skip the ice cream on the side.

7.Citrus Fruits

Fruits like lemons, limes, grapefruit, and pineapple are known to aggravate acid reflux symptoms because of their high acidity. Swap those fruits out for bananas, apples, melons, and mangos.

8.Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes and gravy are staples at any holiday feast. Unfortunately, much like gravy, the fat content in mashed potatoes can increase your heartburn. Instead of mashed potatoes, try sweet potatoes – just as delicious and extremely nutritious.

Even though the holidays are known for large meals and delectable treats, make sure to avoid these foods to keep your acid reflux in check.

For more information about healthy eating habits and improving your digestive health, schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist at GI Associates by calling 877-442-7762 or visit giassoc.org.





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