Posts for category: blog
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.
What you need to know about swallowing disorders
Swallowing disorders are surprisingly common, though they rarely get the attention they deserve. Here we will explore the causes, diagnosis, and treatment of some of the most common swallowing disorders.
Johns Hopkins Medicine describes two kinds of swallowing disorders: Dysphagia, “the sensation of food or fluid being regurgitated or stuck in the chest; also any throat dyscoordination leading to coughing or choking during swallowing” and odynophagia, which they describe as “pain in throat or chest during swallowing.”
Symptoms of swallowing disorders
Since some swallowing disorders may be serious, it is important to get a proper diagnosis if you are experiencing the following symptoms. Gastroenterologists can quickly and accurately diagnose any swallowing disorder you may have. Symptoms of swallowing disorders include:
- Pain while swallowing
- Inability to swallow
- Feeling like food is getting stuck in your throat or chest or behind your breastbone
- Being hoarse
- Frequent heartburn
- Food or stomach acid back up into your throat
- Unexpectedly losing weight
- Coughing or gagging when swallowing
How we diagnose swallowing disorders
GI Associates providers may order any of the following diagnostic tests to determine the best course of treatment:
- Barium esophagram
- Esophageal manometry
- Wireless pH testing
- 24-hour pH impedance
Treatment for your swallowing disorder will be determined by what type you have. Your team at GI Associates will work together to develop the best solution for you.
Think you may have a swallowing disorder? Contact GI Associates for a consultation by calling 877-442-7762 or fill out our online appointment form today.
Enjoy the “wow” without the “ow”
A GERD diagnosis doesn’t mean your foodie life is over. There are plenty of foods to enjoy while minimizing your risk for aggravating your GERD. A few tips to keep in mind, regardless of what you eat, is how you eat. For example, avoiding large, late meals will do you a world of good. Try to allow at least 3 hours between your last meal or snack and bedtime. Taking a short walk after eating will help stimulate digestion and keep the system moving.
Don’t forget that not all foods trigger all people. It’s smart to keep a food journal. You may feel better if you avoid a lot of caffeine, carbonated beverages, chocolate, alcohol, citrus and tomato products, and fatty foods. That’s not to say that you can never have these things, just be smart and consume in moderation.
If this sounds like a lot of hassle, take heart: GERD diets can be user-friendly and delicious. We’ve collected some of our top recommendations for you to help make the best—and tastiest—GERD diet choices.
1. Fruits and Vegetables, Even Potatoes
Avoid citrus and citrus juices, but open your table to a smorgasbord of others. Go for fresh, in-season stock and make sure they are prepared perfectly. For example, it’s hard to get excited about a can of asparagus, but roasted with a bit of olive oil and sea salt? Take a new approach with the classics and your taste buds may thank you.
Eggs have plenty of protein and are super versatile. Have them scrambled, in a frittata, or make yourself an omelet. Skip the onions but add other GERD diet-friendly add-ins such as low-fat cheese, mild turkey sausage, spinach, zucchini, or whatever the fridge has in store for you. Using a non-stick pan will help you reduce the oil you’ll need to prepare this breakfast of champions.
3. Fish and Lean Meat
If you are a meat eater, carry on! Just be sure to go for lean cuts. Skip frying and poach, grill, broil, or bake your fish or lean meat and your heart will thank you too.
A good GERD diet can include complex carbohydrates. Oatmeal, whole grain bread, rice, and couscous are good sources of healthy complex carbs. Bonus: whole grains and brown rice add fiber to your diet and help keep your digestive system on track.
If you are not sure how to put this all together, we recommend visiting our GERD education page where you will find resources including a video, other lifestyle modifications for alleviating symptoms, and a GERD assessment.
At GI Associates, we can help you manage your GERD so you can live a more comfortable life. Give us a call at 877-442-7762 to make an appointment today.
GI Associates Welcomes Dr. Melinda Wayde
We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Melinda Wayde to our team of digestive health specialists.
Dr. Wayde completed her fellowship training in gastroenterology and internal medicine at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. While there, Dr. Wayde distinguished herself as a leader and scholar, earning the prestigious Outstanding Resident Award.
President of GI Associates, Dr. Christopher A. Young, says he’s looking forward to working with Dr. Wayde: “Dr. Wayde brings with her an expertise in gastroenterology informed by a global perspective, having received additional medical training in Mexico. Dr. Wayde also completed a medical mission trip to Adidome, Ghana. We know she will offer great services for our patients and be an asset to our community.”
Dr. Wayde is truly passionate about gastroenterology. “I love the fast-paced and varied aspects of this profession,” she says. “I love the combination of clinical work, performing procedures, and working with a diverse population.”
Describing her philosophy of care, Dr. Wayde says that it’s collaborative. “It’s very important to me that my patients are active participants in their treatment. I want to help improve not only their health, but their quality of life.”
In her spare time, Dr. Wayde enjoys spending time with her husband and children. They love going outdoors, hiking, biking, and going to festivals.
Dr. Wayde is currently accepting patients. She joins the Board-Certified Adult Gastroenterologists at GI Associates: Dr. Christopher A. Young, Dr. Raymond L. Hartke, Dr. James R. Schlais, Dr. Benjamin M. Schneeberger, Dr. Veronika Gagovic, Dr. Eric A. Johnson, Dr. Susan M. Lepinski, Dr. Justin G. Hartke, and Dr. Adam C. Godsey.
For more information, or to make an appointment at our Wausau office with Dr. Wayde, please call GI Associates at 715-847-2558.
Tips for healthy summer habits
Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean your digestive system should be, too! Everything’s a little more relaxed in the summer, which is great for your mental health, but not always your physical health, specifically: your digestion. Even amidst the county fairs, company picnics, road trips, and amusement park visits, it’s important to maintain your healthy habits. Try these tips to stay on track:
Pack Snacks. Save money, calories, time, and potential tummy trouble by bringing your own snacks. This article has plenty of great tips for amusement park trips, the top of which is snack packing.
Eat Beforehand. Grab a banana on the way to the cookout or have a handful of nuts as you head out the door. This will reduce your risk of overeating at summer events—which, let’s be honest, probably don’t always have the healthiest options.
Hydrate. Water is essential to healthy digestion and your body can become dehydrated quickly in the summer. Keep a reusable water bottle with you whenever possible and be sure to drink throughout the day.
Exercise. Summer is a great time to get out and rollerblade, walk, swim, or jog, which is great because exercise is key to your digestive health. Just be sure to stay hydrated!
Get the Meat Out of the Heat. The next time you’re grilling out, keep an eye on those hot dogs and burgers. Prolonged exposure to summer heat accelerates food poisoning risks. Once you have eaten, quickly refrigerate the leftovers.
Stop Grazing. There are spreads galore at summer celebrations, but don’t use it as an excuse to keep your paper plate piled high with cheese, salami, chips, and dip. Eat a moderate amount and then dispose of your plate and pop in a piece of gum. You’ll be less likely to overdo it when it’s more difficult to refill your plate.
You don’t need to deny yourself every funnel cake and brat that comes your way this summer, just be smart about the choices you make so that you can make the most of your summer. Have a great summer and if digestive concerns are slowing you down, call GI Associates at (715) 847-2558 today!
If you have heard the word “colonoscopy,” you may also have heard the word “polyp.” But what do these little tissue growths mean for your health? What happens when polyps are found during your colonoscopy?
The majority of polyps are small (less than half an inch) raised areas or growths that reside benignly until removed during your colonoscopy. When detected, polyps are removed at the time of your colonoscopy and sent to pathology for evaluation.
There are different types of polyps, the majority of which are benign. The polyps of concern are adenomatous polyps, which do have a tendency to turn into cancer growths if left unattended
Adenomatous polyp subtypes include:
- Pedunculated: These look like mushroom stalks and are usually benign
- Sessile: These are flat, so they are harder to detect, but they are also usually benign
- Tubular: Tubular polyps are also rarely cancerous
- Serrated: These saw-toothed polyps are usually benign as well
- Villous: There’s over a 50% chance that these will be cancerous
- Tubulovillous: Because of their larger surface area, these polyps present an increased risk for cancer
This list is just an overview. The American Cancer Society has much more in-depth resources for understanding your polyps if you’d like to learn more. Regardless, it’s important to remember that when your doctor gives you the report on polyps after your colonoscopy, there may be no cause for concern. However, to prevent negative outcomes—and to intervene before adenomatous polyps turn cancerous—it’s important to face your polyps head on. Colonoscopies are the best way to remove your polyps and the most effective way to prevent colon cancer.
To schedule a colonoscopy to get the lowdown on what might be happening with polyps in your colon, contact GI Associates today by calling 877-442-7762 or fill out our online appointment request form.
Top tips to know this summer
Hydration is always important. Not having enough fluids in your body can lead to headaches, poor digestion, and fatigue, no matter what time of year it is.
Stay on top of your hydration this summer with these simple tips.
Always Have Water at the Ready: Whether you’re outside, inside, at the office, at the park or anywhere at all, it’s essential to have water readily available. We lose water every day by breathing, sweating, and going to the bathroom. It’s important to replace these fluids, especially in summer. In fact, the digestive system relies on fluids to function well. Be sure to have plenty of water before, during, and after meals.
Ways to do it:
- Keep a reusable water bottle with you at all times and take sips throughout the day
- Plan water breaks every twenty minutes to an hour when you’re outside
- Set a timer on your phone to remind you to take a drink
Choose High-Water Content Foods: Not only do foods with high water content tend to be good for you (they’re low in calories and often high in fiber), they also keep you hydrated. Strawberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, spinach, and green peppers are all high in water. Refresh this summer with these foods and your digestion will thank you.
Avoid Excessive Heat: Get out of the heat and avoid a lot of potential problems this summer. Protect yourself and your family from the dangerous impact heat can have with the following techniques:
- Always cover up with lightweight, light color clothing
- Stay inside from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., when the sun is at peak intensity
- Drink water and sports drinks
- Use cold compresses to cool off
It’s important to stay vigilant against dehydration, particularly in the summer. Be smart and be careful to keep your summer running smoothly, inside and out.
Dealing with a digestive health concern? Make an appointment with GI Associates today by calling 877-442-7762.
The sobering facts
Once upon a time, young people, women, and other segments of the population could rest easy knowing they were at very low risk for the brutal disease that is colon cancer. Unfortunately, that’s no longer the case. Colon cancer isn’t just for older males in poor health anymore. Young people, women, and otherwise healthy older men are all at a greater risk for colon cancer than ever before.
- Young Adults: The American Cancer Society recently changed colon cancer screening guidelines from testing beginning at age 50 to testing beginning at 45. This is a step in the right direction, but the rate of colon cancer among much younger adults is on the rise. According to this article, by 2030, colorectal cancer incidence rates will be up 90% in people between ages 20 and 34, and 28% for people between ages 35 and 49.
- African Americans: According to an article in U.S. News & World Report, “African-Americans are more likely to develop colorectal cancer at a younger age and to be at a more advanced stage when diagnosed.” There are a lot of socioeconomic factors at play here, including access to care, awareness, and lifestyle.
- Women: Colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death for American women. The perception used to be that men get colon cancer and women do not, however this notion is dangerously outdated. The truth is that 1 in 21 men will get colon cancer and 1 in 23 women will develop the disease. Early detection, as expected, is essential.
We encourage everyone, no matter who you are, to take colon cancer seriously and know that it could happen to you. Take this online assessment with your healthcare provider to determine your personal risk.
One Size Does Not Fit All
There are lots of options when it comes to colon cancer screenings—from at-home tests to colonoscopies—but which is the right one for you?
Colonoscopy: They require prep and sedation, but colonoscopies are the gold standard for colon cancer detection and prevention. The best part is that this test only has to be done once every ten years if your doctor doesn’t detect any concerns. This is also the only test for those with risk factors such as personal history of polyps, cancer, or family history of cancer.
At-home tests: Tried and true colon cancer screenings such as colonoscopies take time and require preparation. The makers of at-home tests know this and are offering solutions that screen for colon cancer at home with no sedation, less prep, and more comfort. So should this be everyone’s first step? Not necessarily: Like cutting your own bangs or doing your own electrical work, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. In studies, at-home tests have failed to detect more than 30% of pre-cancerous polyps. And as you may know, colon cancer rarely displays symptoms until it has advanced to the most life-threatening stage, so it’s usually recommended that you consider colonoscopy first, as it is the most effective way to prevent and detect colon cancer.
Flexible sigmoidoscopy: This is another option that requires less prep and no sedation. It can be uncomfortable but not painful. Where this test falls short is that it only covers about one-third of your colon, so, while more convenient, it’s not as thorough.
Double barium enema: Take an enema and then a few x-rays and you’re set with this procedure. It can be uncomfortable, however, and has a track record of missing larger polyps and cancerous ones.
CT colonography: Also known as “virtual colonoscopy,” it’s a bit of a misnomer. A CT scan is used to image the colon after air has been pumped into the bowel. It is effective in identifying medium to large polyps, but is ineffective in identifying small polyps. Additionally, it’s not covered by most insurance.
Talk with your GI provider to make sure you are getting the best screening possible for this deadly-but-preventable disease.