'Tis the season for smart eating
With the holidays approaching, you’ve no doubt thought about the wonders of the season: that first snowfall, the singing of children, and Mom’s green bean casserole. Or maybe Grandma’s famous stuffing, or Cousin Jim’s signature deep-fried turkey. The point is, it’s hard to think about the holiday season without thinking about the food and the fun that comes with it.
However, if you’re among the 60% of Americans who experience GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) at least once a year, the indulgences of the holidays might make the season particularly painful. Here are some tips for avoiding painful symptoms during the holidays.
Round Up the Usual Suspects
And dispose of them! We all know the primary culinary culprits for acid reflux and GERD, but a reminder is good now and then. Many of these appear frequently on holiday tables, so look out!
- Fatty foods
- Spicy foods
- Acidic foods, like tomatoes and citrus
- Coffee or any caffeinated beverage
- Carbonated beverages
Eat More Meals with Less
Eating five or six little meals is a much better idea than eating three big meals for a number of reasons. You feel fuller more of the time, you tend to eat less, there is less pressure on your esophagus, and, you guessed it, GERD is reduced.
Take a Stand
Or at the very least, don’t lie down. Although it’s the tempting thing to do—especially after a big meal like Thanksgiving, taking a nap is terrible for GERD symptoms. Keep upright and let your digestive system do its thing—without having to work against gravity. Your stomach and esophagus will thank you.
Go Easy on the Drinks
Alcohol can trigger heartburn and GERD because it relaxes the muscles in your esophagus, making conditions optimal for acid to sneak up your esophagus and wreak havoc. Consider the consequences and then ask yourself if that cocktail is really worth it.
As if you needed another reason to quit! Among a whole list of other bad things, smoking, like alcohol, may actually cause your muscles in your esophagus to relax, which can cause stomach acid to rise up and cause pain.
The holidays are usually when you can expect a few pounds to creep up on you, but be vigilant: taking steps to lose weight or at least not gain more weight will help relieve heartburn and GERD symptoms. Obesity is closely linked to not only heartburn but also many other serious health conditions, so take the holidays in stride and be ready to keep or achieve a healthy weight in 2018.
For more information on GERD and heartburn, plus tips on how to treat them, visit http://www.giassoc.org/heartburn.html.
GI Associates is proud to support the annual Crohn’s and Colitis walk
Dr. Eric Johnson is the Honorary Chair of Wausau’s “Take Steps for Crohn’s and Colitis” walk. The event will take place on October 7th. It’s a cause that means a lot to him as a gastroenterologist—and as a son.
“When I was growing up, my dad had a significant case of Crohn’s disease. It was hard to watch someone you idolize suffer like he did. It was one of the reasons I went into gastroenterology,” says Dr. Johnson.
Today, the outlook for those diagnosed with Crohn’s or colitis is much better. “Much better than even ten years ago,” says Dr. Johnson. “We’re getting closer to a cure, but we still have a ways to go.”
It’s Dr. Johnson’s fourth year of being involved with the walk.
The walk is a celebration of those fighting these diseases as well as an opportunity to educate people about Crohn’s and colitis.
“It’s a great event,” says Dr. Johnson. “It raises money and awareness for Crohn’s and colitis. We have foods that are Crohn’s and colitis-friendly, ‘heroes’ who come and speak about their experience with the disease, and lots of people who are there to support loved ones suffering from Crohn’s or colitis.”
Even more important than the money and awareness that the walk raises, says Dr. Johnson, is the sense of community it gives people living with Crohn’s and colitis.
“These are silent diseases,” says Dr. Johnson. “There hasn’t been a lot of access to education, historically, in this part of the state. This walk is changing that.”
What does a successful walk look like to Dr. Johnson? “Every year we’ve grown,” he says. “This year’s event will be successful if we reach even more people, raise more money for a cure, and show everyone living with Crohn’s and colitis that there is support for them.”
For more information on the walk, visit the website here.
Find out what could be causing this rather embarrassing problem and how you can treat it.
Diarrhea happens to almost everyone at some point in their lives. Most of the time it will run its course in a day or two. Of course, there are some situations when symptom may stick around longer than you had hoped.
Some of the most common causes of diarrhea include:
- Viral gastroenteritis
- Bacterial infection (e.g. food poisoning)
- Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
- Food Sensitivities
- Inflammatory bowel syndrome (e.g. ulcerative colitis; Crohn’s disease)
- Alcohol abuse
- Radiation therapy
Your primary care provider can help you manage the majority of diarrheal causes. If your diarrhea continues, or additional symptoms like abdominal pain occur, a gastroenterology consultation may be needed.
How is diarrhea treated?
Mild symptoms are usually well managed with over-the-counter medications. Your primary care provider may also consider additional medications, lab or radiology testing in certain circumstances.
Remember to continue to drink liquids throughout the day to stay hydrated.
If your symptoms continue your primary care provider may refer you to GI Associates. Prior to your appointment, we will gather information from your primary care provider’s office about treatments and testing have already been performed. We will ask you questions about your symptoms and, from there, decide what additional diagnostic tests may be needed.
If underlying conditions such as Celiac or Crohn’s disease are suspected, we may recommend an endoscopy procedure be performed.
From there we can work with you to manage your symptoms through daily lifestyle changes and certain medications.
GI Associates in Wausau, WI, is committed to providing the very best in gastrointestinal care. If you are experiencing any changes or digestive health concerns, please call our office to make an appointment. Our board certified gastroenterologists are here to help.
For your convenience, we offer services in a Wausau, Stevens Point, Antigo, Rhinelander, Woodruff and Eagle River.
Stay regular as you travel this summer
It’s summertime, and chances are you’ve got travel plans coming up! There are lots of things to love about travel—seeing new sights, experiencing new things, and making your world just a little bigger. Unfortunately, there’s one thing that can put a damper on even the trip of a lifetime: digestive issues.
Don’t let constipation or diarrhea cramp your style (or your stomach). Be prepared and stay regular, even on the other side of the world.
From the moment those wheels go up, to the second your plane lands, it’s essential to stay hydrated. Whatever mode of transportation you’re using, it’s important to keep drinking water, but airplanes are particularly dehydrating spaces. The recirculate air and the inability to move around very much takes its toll on your body. And guess what? The four ounces of water they pass out every six hours is not going to be enough. Either buy the biggest bottle of water you can find after you pass through security or be prepared to ring the call button again and again.
Alas, going on vacation doesn’t mean you can take a break from eating smart. Avoid indulging too much in low-fiber foods, however tempting they may be. And if nothing else, make it a point to eat a healthy, high-fiber breakfast and start the day right.
Go out and see the sights! Climb the ancient ruins, walk though the old town, and be active on your journey! Walking and other exercise is as good for your heart as it is for your digestive system.
Don't drink the water.
In certain parts of the world, tap water can wreak havoc on your digestive system. Buy bottled water to avoid diarrhea and other stomach issues.
Don’t let digestive issues ruin your summer travel. Don’t spend the whole time in the bathroom or wishing you were! Take the proper precautions, eat and drink smart, and have happy memories to last a lifetime!
Colonoscopy: An Important Colon Cancer Screening Procedure
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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 experience 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
- Problems swallowing
- 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.
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