Who wants more BBQ? Can you think of anybody who doesn’t look forward to cooking out in the summer? How horrible when the enjoyment is interrupted with discomfort or gut pain?
Before missing out on some of the upcoming summer fun, there are some things you should know about ahead of time. Here’s what you need to know about bloating.
What Is Abdominal Bloating?
Not knowing what’s happening with your body can be disconcerting; humans are generally emotionally distressed with the “unknown” or when having to deal with something they can’t explain. So, if you’re feeling something uncomfortable or painful, you don’t have to wait.
One relatively common and often non-threatening situation we can experience is that of abdominal bloating.
Abdominal bloating can be both annoying and disruptive. People often feel down or lethargic when they’re bloated. The pressure in your abdomen and pain that comes with it can be enough to make you wonder if something is really wrong.
The causes of bloating can differ, but the effect is usually the same—excess gas in the digestive tract. Depending on how much air is trapped in your stomach and large or small intestine, you can experience a wide range of potentially embarrassing or uncomfortable symptoms. In addition to pain in the abdomen, symptoms can include increased belching and flatulence or even the visible swelling of the abdomen.
As uncomfortable as it may be, a single bout of pain and bloating is not typically a cause for alarm. However, it can be extremely painful, and some patients even find themselves in the emergency room. If the symptoms persist or recur frequently, it may be time to meet with a doctor. There are some serious conditions that can cause abdominal pain and bloating and the symptoms should not be ignored.
What Causes Bloating?
Knowing the potential causes of bloating, you may be able to narrow down exactly what’s happening and take steps to bring relief or even prevent it in the first place.
Here are some of the possible reasons you might be feeling bloated and gassy:
- Over-eating: As simple as it sounds, eating too much is one of the most common causes of abdominal bloating. Our stomachs are still relatively small; so when we eat huge volumes of food, space gets filled up. Digesting some foods can create intestinal gas and makes for a combo that can make you feel bloated.
- Eating too quickly: It’s important to be aware of how quickly you’re eating. When you scarf your food down, you are inevitably swallowing air along with the food; this air can get trapped in the stomach and build up, leading to bloating.
- Carbonated beverages: Drinking a lot of carbonated, fizzy drinks like soda can lead to bloating. The carbon dioxide in the beverage gets released in your digestive tract, and the excess gas can lead to bloating.
- FODMAP foods: This funny-sounded acronym stands for “Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols,” a fancy way of referring to some foods that aren’t absorbed well by the small intestine. Foods like beans, broccoli, cauliflower, wheat, lentils, brussels sprouts, cabbage, garlic, onions, apples, and pears, while generally healthy and recommended, can cause bloating for some people - particularly those with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).
- Fatty foods: Foods heavy in fat can take longer to digest. A longer digestion time, especially in conjunction with other foods and beverages that promote bloating, can leave you feeling overly full and bloated for hours.
- Inactivity: In general, physical activity is beneficial for digestive health because it strengthens the abdominal wall and helps digested food move through your digestive tract. Too much inactivity can add to the body’s propensity to be bloated and gassy.
- Sugar alcohols: Sugar alcohols are found in sugar-free chewing gum and foods that utilize artificial sweeteners like sorbitol. Having too much in your diet can lead to bacteria in your large intestine producing excess gas.
- Constipation: This can further complicate things because some of the methods often used to treat constipation - eating high-fiber foods, for example - can inadvertently add to the feeling of being bloated. Often, the best solution is to increase your water intake and physical activity.
- Too much sodium: Water retention can be caused by too much salt. When you’re retaining water, you can feel a bloating sensation in your abdomen and potentially in your extremities.
- Lactose intolerance: A common food allergy, lactose intolerance, has symptoms that often include bloating, gas, diarrhea, and other digestive health issues.
- Celiac disease: Celiac disease has been on the rise in prevalence in recent years. This condition is defined by the inability to digest gluten, a type of protein found in many cereal grains.
- Fructose intolerance: The sugar found in fruits is occasionally difficult to digest for some people. Similar to other types of food intolerance, bloating is often accompanied by other gastrointestinal discomforts.
- Intestinal disorders: Some intestinal disorders, like IBS, SIBO Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis, occur in the small and large intestine and often include bloating. In most cases, however, bloating will be just one of the numerous symptoms that point to an intestinal disorder.
- Smoking: In addition to the excess air you inevitably swallow while smoking, the toxins in cigarette smoke can irritate the lining of your stomach and actually add to the feeling of being bloated.
- Alcohol: Excessive alcohol can also cause bloating because of the negative impact it has on healthy gut bacteria.
- Malignancy--serious disorders
When Should I Talk to My Doctor About Stomach Bloating?
If your symptoms persist or are accompanied by other changes in your body, it may be time to talk to your doctor. For example, when chronic bloating is associated with sudden, unintentional weight loss, it can be a sign of a more serious digestive disorder.
Serious conditions related to stomach bloating can range from irritable bowel syndrome to more life-threatening conditions such as cancer. In cases like these, diagnosing the root cause of your bloating may require talking to a specialist, such as a gastroenterologist.
If you have been suffering from ongoing bloating that does not respond to dietary or lifestyle changes, take advantage of the convenience of a TeleMedicine appointment to start a discussion with your doctor instead of waiting. Your doctor will be able to suggest an alternate course of action or advise you to make a physical appointment for further discussion and examination.
GI Associates has introduced TeleHealth and can meet with you virtually in the comfort of your own home. If you would like to have the advice of a doctor to discover the best course of action moving forward, simply call our office at 877-442-7762.
If your parents, siblings, or kids have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, it’s important for you to be screened- regardless of your age.
Recent studies show that first-degree relatives of patients with colorectal cancer or advanced colorectal polyps:
- Are at a higher risk for advanced colorectal polyps and colorectal cancer themselves
- May require more frequent testing or screening
- Should be in close communications with their doctor
What are polyps?
While they typically don’t cause symptoms, polyps are growths on the inside walls of the colon that protrude into the colon passageway. Polyps range in size from a small dot to several inches. Men tend to develop them more than women. We know that most colorectal cancers come from polyps. So, if polyps are found and removed before they become cancerous, about 75-90 percent of cases of colorectal cancer can be prevented.
It is possible to experience some signs of polyps, particularly if the polyps are located on the rectum. Some symptoms of colonic polyps to be mindful of include:
- Blood on toilet paper after wiping
- Blood in the stool
- Pain, constipation, or diarrhea that lasts upward of a week
- Nausea and vomiting
These symptoms can point to a number of different causes, so to be sure, it’s important to visit your doctor.
Lifestyle Changes and other identifiers:
There are certain conditions and even lifestyle choices that may increase the risk of polyps or colon cancer. These include smoking and overconsumption of red meat (particularly in women).
If you have diabetes, are overweight, or have other bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or inflammatory bowel disease you may be at higher risk to develop colon cancer.
How Are Polyps Treated?
A colonoscopy is the most effective way to identify and remove polyps. In most cases, colonic polyps are easily removed during a colonoscopy by performing a procedure known as polypectomy. In some cases, larger polyps cannot be removed with the colonoscope, and surgery must be scheduled.
If you have any type of colonic polyps, you will need to follow up with your doctor after removal. The frequency of regular follow up and repeat colonoscopy is determined based on the type and number of polyps you are found to have.
Schedule an appointment
If you need more information about colonic polyps, colon cancer, or to discuss your family history regarding screening, simply request an appointment with GI Associates.
When your stomach is growling so loudly that the person across the room can hear it, it’s tempting to grab a handful of chips or a cookie (or three) - especially since working from home has given most of us quick access to a pantry full of comfort foods! But if you have GERD, mindless snacking can have painful consequences.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is when the stomach acids in your stomach leak back into the esophagus. It’s often called acid-reflux, although GERD is more severe or consistent than occasional acid reflux. Typically, if reflux happens multiple times a week or is severe at least once per week, you may be experiencing GERD.
While a few lifestyle changes can help keep symptoms manageable, deciding on what types of foods to eat can be tricky. Eating large meals, eating fatty foods, or drinking certain drinks like alcohol or coffee can all trigger reflux.
However, being prepared for when the hunger pangs hit by adding these reflux-busting snacks to your grocery list can help you guard against reflux and help free you to enjoy your meals a little more:
- Non-citrus fruits
- Crackers with any type of nut butter
- Raw vegetables with dip or hummus
- Baked chips
- Half an avocado and some corn chips
- Baked chicken strips (or any small quantity of lean meat, besides red meat)
- Oatmeal or high-fiber cereal
- A baked potato, sweet potato, or yam
- Any type of grain
- Rice cakes
- Granola bars
- Half a bagel
- Lowfat dairy, such as low-fat cottage cheese with vegetables or crackers or fruit
- A hard-boiled egg
- A veggie or fruit (non-citrus) smoothie
Moderation is key
Even when you choose healthy snacks, too much of a good thing is, well, not good at all – especially when you have GERD. Limit your nibbles to small serving sizes, which will keep both your hunger and reflux under control. Experts recommend that you eat three small meals and two snacks daily.
When to see a doctor
If your signs and symptoms get worse, if you’re struggling with nausea or difficulty swallowing, or if you otherwise suspect that you may have GERD, meeting with a Board-certified gastroenterologist at GI Associates can help you manage GERD symptoms and create a diet plan that works best for you.
For more information, call (877) 442-7762 or fill out our online form today.
More and more health care providers are using technology to expedite patient care appointments. You may not have considered TeleHealth, but it may be the perfect way to continue prioritizing your health even while practicing social distancing.
Why choose a virtual visit with your medical provider?
TeleHealth allows you to discuss symptoms, medical issues, medications and more with a medical provider in real-time.
TeleHealth has been available for longer than you might have thought- beginning with telephone visits. Further advancements in technology have allowed patient portals and communication via the internet to become the norm in patient information and communications. Now, video conferencing helps improve communication even further.
TeleHealth is well suited for situations that aren't life-threatening or where you need advisement more than hands-on care. Through a virtual visit, your provider will assess your symptoms, review your medication regimen, recommend testing and treatment options and more. Patients with conditions such as reflux, Crohn's disease, and IBS will benefit from TeleHealth appointments.
It is important to know that you always call 911 or go to an emergency room for a life-threatening condition like a heart attack or stroke, cuts or lacerations, or broken bones that require x-rays, splints, or casts.
GI Associates offers TeleHealth
GI Associates has introduced TeleHealth as a protective measure for our most vulnerable patients while we navigate COVID-19. TeleHealth doesn’t mean that you’ll never visit a doctor’s office again, but it does make care more accessible.
Call our office at 877-442-7762 to discuss whether a virtual appointment with GI Associates is right for you!
In the United States, cancer is second only to heart disease in terms of annual deaths. Almost 600,000 people die from some form of cancer every year, and colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death for both men and women. More than 140,000 new cases are diagnosed every year of this largely preventable disease. March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. The main goal of the campaign is to raise awareness of the disease, but also to encourage people to get early screening for colorectal cancer. While it can be a deadly disease, catching it early can make an enormous difference in terms of both life expectancy and quality of life.
What Role Does the Colon Play in Digestion?
Although frequently asymptomatic, colorectal cancer can be related to a variety of gastrointestinal symptoms. It’s helpful to understand how the colon fits into the digestive process. When food enters the mouth and is chewed into a pulp, that mass (called a food bolus) makes its way down the esophagus and into the stomach. Digestive juices and muscle contractions, called peristalsis, act on the food bolus to reduce it to a semi-liquid material called chyme. The chyme then enters the small intestine where additional enzyme-rich juices further break it down into components that can be absorbed into the bloodstream and carried around the body to be used by cells.
After the small intestine, the chyme (composed mostly of waste materials and bits of undigested food at this point) enters the large intestine via the ileocecal valve. The cecum is the first portion of the colon followed by the ascending colon, transverse colon, descending colon, sigmoid colon, rectum, and anal canal.
The small intestine is primarily responsible for true “digestion” in the sense of utilizing the nutrients in food, and it is the colon that processes the remaining waste products by absorbing water and salts and forming stool. Though the colon doesn’t produce digestive enzymes, the gut flora present there can use the waste products in the stool to synthesize valuable vitamins. By the time the stool reaches the sigmoid colon, it is mostly solid and can be expelled through the anal canal.
What is Colorectal Cancer?
Colorectal cancer is an abnormal growth of mutated cells that can develop in either the colon or the rectum. Though the terms colon cancer and rectal cancer are used to describe cancers in those specific areas, colorectal cancer is a commonly used term to group the two conditions together since they both share similar attributes. Like any type of cancer, the abnormal growth of cells starts small and localized but can spread to other parts of the body and lead to major problems for multiple body systems.
Colorectal cancer typically begins in the inner lining of the colon or rectum with small, fleshy growths called polyps. Though typically benign at first, polyps can become cancerous over time if they aren’t removed. Some polyps, such as inflammatory or hyperplastic polyps, are considered to have low malignancy potential and are therefore unlikely to lead to cancer. Adenomatous polyps, on the other hand, are considered precancerous and thus have a much higher likelihood of leading to cancer. Polyps can usually be detected and, more often than not, removed during a colonoscopy.
Symptoms of colon cancer, if present, can vary and can be very similar to other digestive diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, or hemorrhoids. Below are some of the more common symptoms reported:
- Fatigue or weakness
- Changes in bowel habits that persist for more than several days
- Unexplained weight loss
- Blood in the stool
- Bleeding from the rectum
- Abdominal pain
- Abdominal cramping
Symptoms cannot be relied on for screening or diagnosis, however, both because of their similarity to other diseases and because the symptoms are a late finding in colorectal cancer, meaning there has already been significant progression.
Causes of Colorectal Cancer
Although cancer is a complex process with a variety of causative factors, on a fundamental level, it occurs due to mutations in the DNA of the affected cells. The specific gene types that appear to be involved are called oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes; oncogenes are responsible for helping cells divide and grow, and tumor suppressor genes are responsible for preventing the kind of cellular overgrowth that happens in cancer.
One of the main tumor suppressor genes involved at the beginning of cancer is the adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) gene. When this gene becomes mutated, it can no longer function as a “brake” on cellular growth and therefore overgrowth happens. It is not completely understood why these kinds of mutations happen in the first place. Diseases like familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), a condition characterized by the development of a large number of adenomatous polyps, suggest that it can sometimes be inherited from a parent. But research suggests that these mutations may also be acquired during the course of life from exposure to a variety of risk factors.
What are the Risk Factors for Colorectal Cancer?
Scientists have found links between certain behaviors and risk factors that make someone more likely to develop colorectal cancer, although it is still unknown how these factors precisely “cause” cancer. The American Cancer Society has identified a number of these risk factors, and they are generally divided into inherent factors (those that can’t be controlled) and lifestyle factors (those that can be controlled):
- Age 50 years or older
- Some diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease or type 2 diabetes
- Personal or family history of colorectal cancer
- Racial and ethnic background, such as African Americans and Jews of Eastern European descent
- Inherited syndromes, such as FAP or Lynch syndrome
- Heavy drinking
- Smoking tobacco
- Eating a lot of red or processed meats
- Lacking sufficient regular exercise
Treatment Options for Colorectal Cancer
Doctors use a “staging” system to describe and organize the progression of cancer and the appropriate treatments for the different levels of progression. This system runs from very early (stage 0) to very advanced (stage IV):
- Status: The cancer is confined to polyps or small tumors in the mucosal lining of the colon
- Treatment: Endoscopy or surgery to remove the polyps or tumors is standard, but a partial colectomy may also be warranted
- Status: The cancer has grown past the mucosal lining and into the wall of the colon itself, but it hasn’t spread to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body
- Treatment: Surgery is the main treatment option to remove any cancer-containing parts of the colon
- Status: The cancer has grown through the wall of the colon, but still hasn’t reached the lymph nodes
- Treatment: Both surgery and chemotherapy are typically used at this stage, depending on the nature of the spread
- Status: The cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, but not to distant body parts
- Treatment: Surgery and chemotherapy are standard, but radiation therapy may also be employed
- Status: The cancer has spread beyond the colon to other parts of the body
- Treatment: Surgery may be utilized as needed (usually palliative, to improve quality of life), but chemotherapy is the primary treatment option
Colorectal Cancer Screening
It is before cancer develops or when the cancer is still in the early (or local) stage that doctors have the best chance of treating for long-term success. For this reason, those who are 45 years or older should start talking with a qualified gastroenterologist about getting screened. If you want more information about a colorectal cancer screening, Contact Us.
Everyone gets sick or feels run down once in a while. Maybe you’re feeling fatigued with no real explanation for a week, or you’ve had a couple of bouts of indigestion, diarrhea, or constipation. Those things alone may be signs that you’re a little stressed, or maybe you have a viral infection that needs to run its course. Or, these may be signs of digestive problems that could be indicative of a deeper digestive issue. Read on to learn a little bit more about different types of digestive symptoms, what you should look out for, and when it warrants a call to a GI specialist for evaluation.
Signs and Symptoms of Digestive Issues
Most insurance companies have a certain protocol that they follow, and most often, the first appointment patients will make is with their primary care physician, unless they are already under the care of a gastroenterologist and are experiencing new or changing symptoms. If you experience one instance of gas, constipation, or diarrhea, most likely, you aren’t going to give your PCP a call. But if these conditions persist you should give your primary healthcare provider a call. Be on the lookout for new digestive symptoms such as:
- Persistent gas
- Trouble swallowing
- Persistent fatigue or lethargy
If you’re experiencing one or more of these symptoms persist, it may be indicative of some type of digestive problem. Some GI and digestive problems are more “quality of life” issues, where symptoms affect comfort more than anything else, while others can be more serious.
If you notice blood in your stool or wonder about hemorrhoids, you discuss it with your primary physician. Rectal bleeding can be a byproduct of hemorrhoids, or it can be a symptom of other GI disturbances, but it certainly warrants a thorough workup. Similarly, hemorrhoids should also be evaluated and treated. They are not a life-threatening or severe condition, but they can certainly affect the quality of life and can be painful. Some hemorrhoids are internal and are located on the inside of the rectum. These can be removed via colonoscopy or through other methods. Others may need surgical intervention.
Signs and Symptoms You Notice Over Time
Of course, everyone notices a bout of diarrhea or heartburn that lasts a few days, but there are other, more benign signs and symptoms of GI problems that you may not notice over a week’s - or even a month’s - time.
One sign to look for is that your jeans are suddenly too tight. It’s not like you’ve suddenly put on weight, or you’ve gone off your diet. However, jeans that maybe fit three weeks ago are now a little bit snug, and it’s noticeable. This can be because you’re bloated. Bloating can be the result of many different things - from overeating at a few sittings to lactose intolerance, but it can also be from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), constipation, gallstones, or other GI problems. If you find that your jeans are too tight, and you’re also experiencing heartburn and other GI disturbances, let your doctor know.
On the flip side, if your pants are suddenly too loose and you’re not trying to diet or lose weight, there may also be a problem. Unexplained weight loss could be a sign of an underlying GI problem. If you notice that you’re shedding pounds unexpectedly, it’s time to see your physician.
If your stools are black, tarry stools. It can be a sign of one or more GI problems, so see your doc f you notice these.
Everyone passes gas, but if you notice that your gas is particularly smelly and persistent, this may be a sign of an intestinal issue. Also, unusual amounts of gas paired with other symptoms, such as abdominal pain, changes in bowel habits, or unexplained weight loss are all reasons to see a GI specialist or your PCP.
If you experience trouble swallowing beyond something of a cold or viral infection (such as swollen lymph nodes), let your doctor know. If it feels like there is a “lump” in your throat and it’s painful to swallow food and liquid, this may be a sign of trouble with your esophagus. If trouble swallowing is also paired with coughing and hiccupping, see your PCP or GI specialist as soon as possible.
Common GI Problems
A GI specialist treats a wide array of disorders and problems. Patients may worry that by going to see a specialist that there may be something seriously wrong with them, but that is often not the case. Very often, a GI specialist will want to treat the motility of the GI tract (its ability to keep moving), and the treatment will be changing diet or exercise habits. This may include excluding dairy, adding more fiber to the diet, exercising more, or avoiding certain medications.
GI doctors also treat common, everyday conditions such as diarrhea, constipation, and heartburn.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common problem treated by GI specialists. The primary treatment for IBS includes avoiding certain foods or practices that trigger the irritation of the colon (such as caffeine). IBS, while not a life-threatening disorder, can be a significant condition quality of life issue.
GI specialists also treat inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Inflammatory bowel disease involves inflammation and damage to the tissue and lining of the colon. Left untreated IBD can result in significant and lasting damage.
Gastroenterologists also treat diseases of the liver, pancreas, and esophagus, treat anal disorders such as anal fissures and hemorrhoids, treat cancer such as colon cancer, and manage any disease or disorder that is part of the digestive system.
If you need more information about digestive disorders or need to be seen by a GI specialist, request an appointment with GI Associates today. We have five separate office locations in north and central Wisconsin.
Could eliminating gluten help you live a pain-free, more comfortable life?
Gluten Sensitivity is the term used to describe individuals who cannot tolerate gluten and experience many of the same symptoms of Celiac patients but without the presence of antibodies and damage to the intestines.
There are many signs of gluten sensitivity that could be misunderstood or attributed to something else. Many of these do not appear related to digestion at all, and most occur within hours or days of consuming wheat or wheat products.
Common ailments from headaches, to rashes, to brain fog can all be signs of a gluten sensitivity. It can be hard to recognize patterns, especially since no two people experience symptoms quite the same way. If you have one or more of the common symptoms, you may want to consider gluten sensitivity as a potential cause.
Additionally, a gluten sensitivity can manifest itself in a combination of common or more rare symptoms, so if you are noticing these you should consider discussing the issue with your health care provider.
Common symptoms include:
- Bloating, gas or abdominal pain
- Joint pain
- Numbness in extremities
- Brain fog
- Diarrhea or constipation
Your provider will help you establish a clear connection between your symptoms and your consumption of gluten to make a diagnosis. He or she may ask you to keep a journal of what you eat and when you experience symptoms to help determine if gluten is the cause of your pain and discomfort.
If you think you may have a sensitivity to gluten, let the professionals at GI Associates help you get back to living a more pain-free and comfortable life. Call 877-442-7762 to make an appointment, or submit an appointment request with our online form.
Tips to keep holiday parties pain-free
RSVP yes to holiday parties, but don’t dance with digestive pain afterwards. You’ve made it through Halloween. Thanksgiving is in the rearview mirror. But there’s one month of treats left – and it’s a biggie. December is full of many wonderful (and decadent) traditions. This year, give your stomach the greatest gift: A season free of pain. Keep these things in mind when celebrating and attending gatherings with family and friends, so the only thing your stomach is full of is comfort and joy.
Find (or bring) foods with fiber: So many of the goodies popular this time of year simply lack fiber. Be mindful when filling your plate and choose fruits and vegetables to help compensate for what other treats are lacking. Not only are you making healthier, lower calorie selections, but not getting the proper amounts of fiber can cause pain and constipation. A deficit of fiber is even more painful for those with digestive disorders, such as diverticulitis. If you suffer from diverticulitis, think grains, fruits, and vegetables to make sure your mood remains merry.
Watch portion sizes: We’re not trying to be Scrooge-like, but managing portion sizes – while not always easy – is a great way to avoid pain, reflux, bloating, and other digestive issues. Sometimes it’s a good idea to eat a healthy meal before attending a holiday get-together so you’ll already be full and will be less tempted to go overboard on goodies.
Avoid rich foods: Holiday foods are often heavy on sugar and high on fat. Especially when combined, an excess of foods rich in fat and sugar creates greater stress on your gastrointestinal system triggering stomach aches, reflux, and more. Alcohol, while not a food, also contains sugar and is another trigger that causes reflux. While it may be hard to avoid these holiday favorites completely, enjoy rich foods cautiously, and in moderation.
Greasy foods are on the naughty list: Foods that are full of grease can really wreak havoc on your system and may cause diarrhea and gas. Choose better, healthier options such as leaner meats that are grilled or baked, and raw or steamed vegetables instead of the deep-fried alternatives.
Talk more, eat less: It really is the most wonderful time of the year to reconnect with friends and family. So enjoy the fun and the food, but focus more on people and less on your plate. Striking up more conversations with those around you will automatically prompt you to eat slower and give your stomach time to do its thing. Even better, you’ll have time to really catch up with those you love.
If you’re experiencing digestive discomfort, give yourself the greatest gift and let the expert team at GI Associates get you on the path to a better quality of life. For more information about a consultation, call 877-442-7762 or fill out our online appointment form today.
You hear a lot about Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) these days – and for good reason.
GERD affects up to 1 in 5 or more adults in the U.S.; not to mention a growing number of children.
While there’s increased recognition of the acronym “GERD,” there’s still a lot of confusion about the cause and effects of the disease. With that in mind, we thought it would be helpful to explain what GERD is, and the symptoms to watch for.
First: What exactly is GERD?
GERD occurs when stomach acid frequently flows back into the tube connecting your mouth and stomach– your esophagus. The medical term for this “backwash” is “acid reflux,” which can irritate the lining of your esophagus. Reflux becomes a disease when it causes frequent or severe symptoms or damage. Left untreated, it can lead to pain, chronic irritation of the lining leading to cellular changes, chronic cough, and other issues.
While GERD can affect nearly anyone at any age, certain conditions can increase your risk for GERD, including:
- Bulging of the top of the stomach up into the diaphragm (i.e., hiatal hernia)
- Delayed stomach emptying
What symptoms should you watch out for?
Chronic heartburn is most commonly associated with GERD. But many people don’t realize there are several other symptoms that shouldn’t be ignored. For example, some people may experience one or a combination of the following:
- Inflammation of the gums
- Hoarseness in the morning
- Bad breath
- Erosion of teeth enamel
If you have nighttime acid reflux associated with GERD, you might experience:
- Chronic coughing
- New or worsening asthma
- Disrupted sleep
Nighttime reflux is often associated with more aggressive symptoms of GERD. You can learn more about sleep and GERD here.
If you experience any of the GERD symptoms above, it’s important to talk with a gastroenterologist sooner rather than later. Often, GERD can be managed by lifestyle changes and medication. Call us at 877-442-7736 or request an appointment online.
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