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 The perception used to be that men get colon cancer and women do not, however this notion is dangerously outdated.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.
The little-known benefits of a fiber-rich diet
Fiber is essential for a healthy diet. It helps your digestive system move along smoothly, aiding in weight loss and helping you feel fuller longer. When you take a closer look at this unsung hero of the digestive system, you’ll find that there’s a lot more to fiber than just bowel movements.
Tips for a Fantastic, Fibrous Future:
Start small: If you’re not used to consuming foods with a higher fiber content, hitting the ground running might not be the best idea. Too much fiber too fast can lead to bloating, discomfort, and constipation. Start with replacing one snack a day with a fiber-packed option (a banana, apple, or brown rice are good choices to start). And, instead of going to a full fiber cereal in the morning, make it half your regular cereal and half your fiber-rich option. Here is a list of foods that deliver on fiber.
When you can, skip the supplements: Any fiber is better than no fiber, but if possible, it’s best to get your fiber from the food in your diet rather than fiber supplements. According to the Mayo Clinic, it's best to get fiber from food, because supplements don't provide the vitamins, minerals, and satisfaction eating food provides.
Serve with a side of water: Water is essential for fiber to work its best. Not enough water can lead to constipation. Keep things moving with the power couple of fiber and water.
Get ready to age backwards: Fiber can do some really impressive things: Fiber-rich foods like beans, vegetables, fruit, nuts, and whole grains come with a healthy dose of anti-aging and disease-fighting properties. According to research commissioned by the World Health Organization, “people who eat lots of high-fiber and whole grain foods have lower risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other chronic diseases than people whose diets are low in fiber.”
Make long-term plans: It’s that simple: People who consume fiber live longer. A recent report found that people “who ate between 25 grams and 29 grams a day of fiber were less likely to die during any given time period than people who ate less fiber.”
If you are struggling with irregularity or other digestive health concerns, make an appointment with the experts at GI Associates by calling 715.847.2558 or filling out our online appointment request form today.
Make 2019 the year you do right by your digestive system
It’s a new year: Another chance to start fresh, to build better habits, and to make progress on your goals. There are the standard resolutions—lose weight, exercise more, and save more money that always top the list—but this year, why not start from within?
That’s right: We’re talking about your gut. Gut health isn’t something you think about often, especially if you don’t notice any symptoms, but a strong digestive tract is a vital part of a happy and healthy life. Here are some tips for making 2019 your best year of gut health yet.
Add more fiber: You’ve probably heard this one before, but it deserves repetition. Fiber is essential to your gut health. It helps with everything from weight loss to a longer life! Fruits, nuts, and legumes are all great sources of fiber, so you can easily get your recommended levels just by eating smart.
Try a probiotic: There’s a lot of confusion out there (do you need millions or billions?), but experts recommend getting healthy probiotics through your diet to regulate constipation and diarrhea. If you’re thinking of taking a supplement, check with your provider first, as some aren’t always regulated or FDA approved.
Give it a break: Alcohol can have disastrous consequences for your gut health thanks to the extra stress it puts on your digestive system. The less you indulge, the happier your insides will be.
Change your habits: Simple changes to your eating habits will do wonders for your digestion. Avoid eating on the go, take your time, drink plenty of water, and stop eating at least two hours before bedtime.
Exercise: Chances are, if it’s good for your overall health, it’s good for your gut health. Exercise helps stimulate digestion and reduce stress—two great things for good gut health. Even something as simple as walking can be beneficial. Take the step to start taking more steps in 2019.
At GI Associates, we support you in all your health goals. We wish you a happy and healthy New Year. If you’d like to learn more about keeping your digestive tract running smoothly, please don’t hesitate to make an appointment with us by calling 877-442-7762 or completing our online form.
This is the perfect time to reevaluate what you’re doing for your own health.
The holiday season is upon us and this usually means spending time with family and friends over generous helpings of foods. Of course, not all those foods are the best for your health. As we come up to the New Year, many patients make a resolution to be healthier. From the office of our Wausau, WI, gastroenterologists, here are some tips to keep your GI tract healthy in the New Year.
Eat Healthier for a Healthier You
The holiday season is a time for delicious foods and yet a lot of the foods we love can also lead to heartburn, indigestion and constipation. It’s important to know what triggers these symptoms so that you can avoid these foods whenever possible. Aim to include fruits and vegetables, lean meats, low-fat dairy and whole grains into your diet while avoiding processed foods. Incorporate fiber into your diet and limit both caffeine and alcohol, which can cause digestive issues.
Manage Overeating and Bad Habits
We know how tempting it can be to reach for another helping of mashed potatoes or to grab another slice of pumpkin pie; however, if you find yourself feeling guilty about how much you’re eating this holiday season then here are some quick tips to allow you to enjoy delicious holiday foods without the guilt.
- Pace yourself and set your fork down between bites. By slowing down you can control just how much you eat and allow your body time to let you know that it’s done. You can still enjoy the foods you love, just in moderation.
- If you’re still hungry after a meal, drink a glass of water and wait 10-15 minute to see if the pangs go away.
- Stress can also wreak havoc on our ability to manage bad eating habits, so make sure to carve out some time in between carving that turkey to unwind and relax.
- Practice mindful eating, which means turning off distractions and focusing on eating. Eating while working or multitasking can lead to consuming hundreds of extra calories.
Decide to Lose that Weight
Getting fit is a resolution for many and adding regular physical activity to your week is important for a healthy digestive system. In fact, something as simple as a 30-minute walk each day can prevent bloating and constipation. Getting regular exercise can also reduce your risk for colon cancer. Those who are overweight or obese are at a greater risk for developing with diabetes, fatty liver disease and other GI problems.
Schedule a Colonoscopy
Okay, so perhaps this isn’t something you’ve put on your wish list this holiday season but a colonoscopy is the best way to detect polyps and colorectal cancer, and both men and women should start getting screened by the time they reach 50 years old. If you are turning 50 this year then it’s time to schedule a colonoscopy with our Wausau, WI, GI doctor.
If you want to start out the New Year with good digestive health then the team at GI Associates in Wausau, WI, can provide you with the advice and treatment you need to handle any issues you might be having. Call us today to schedule an appointment.
What it's like to live with GERD and what you can do
For some, it’s impossible to not be aware of GERD, a condition in which stomach acids travel back up into the esophagus, causing pain, irritation, and damage.
This year, GERD Awareness Week is November 18th - 25th. You can learn more about activities and events you can be a part of by visiting this website.
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. While everyone will probably experience heartburn at some point during their lifetime, if you have GERD you will likely deal with it persistently. Everybody is different when it comes to symptoms, but common ones include:
- Sore throat
- Problems swallowing
- A sour or bitter taste in the mouth
GERD and the holidays
With the holidays approaching, minds have no doubt turned to food and all the feasting that takes place during this most wonderful time of the year. Unfortunately, 60% of Americans experience GERD at least once a year—and the most common time of year GERD develops is (you guessed it) the holidays.
The following is a list of foods you may want to avoid if you are prone to GERD:
- Fatty foods
- Spicy foods
- Acidic foods, like tomatoes and citrus
- Coffee or any caffeinated beverage
- Carbonated beverages
Basic lifestyle changes can help to manage or even avoid GERD altogether. Exercising regularly, quitting smoking, and losing excess weight are always a good idea.
Timing and quantity of meals makes a difference too. Try eating five or six little meals instead of three huge ones. Avoid eating 2-3 hours before going to bed or lying down. Keep upright and let your digestive system do its thing—and skip the post-feast nap. Your stomach and esophagus will thank you.
Unfortunately for some, GERD symptoms persist past the holidays despite medication and lifestyle changes. If this applies to you, surgical options may be considered. Ask your gastroenterologist about the best plan for you.
If you have suffered from reflux over an extended period of time, endoscopic evaluation of the lining of your esophagus may be recommended to evaluate for Barrett’s Esophagus, a precancerous condition which can develop into esophageal cancer. Careful monitoring and periodic evaluation help with early detection and prevention of this form of cancer.
If you think you may have GERD, don’t hesitate to contact us. We can help you get ahead of this problem so you can focus on the enjoyment of the holidays, not the pain of GERD. Schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist at GI Associates by calling 877-442-7762 or using our online form.
Are you experiencing periodic pain, itching or have blood when you wipe after a bowel movement? If so, you could have hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are a condition resulting from swelling and distention in the veins of the anus and rectum. Hemorrhoids are one of the most common causes of rectal bleeding, and the condition isn’t considered serious or life-threatening. In fact, some cases of hemorrhoid may clear up on their own within a few weeks. Of course, if you are noticing any blood in your stool it’s important that you contact your physician to evaluate the cause of your bleeding.
Hemorrhoids may be either internal or external. Internal hemorrhoids are inside the rectum. Often times the only symptom of internal hemorrhoids is bright red blood when wiping after a bowel movement. Itching and mild discomfort are also frequent. External hemorrhoids are usually more painful because they are found around the anus rather than inside the rectum. Besides pain, these hemorrhoids can also cause bleeding.
What causes hemorrhoids?
Straining during a bowel movement, standing or sitting for long periods of time, or having constipation or diarrhea can also bring on hemorrhoids.
Excess pressure placed on the rectum can increase your chances for hemorrhoids. This might be the case if you are overweight, or are pregnant.
Genetics can play in role in whether or not you develop hemorrhoids; therefore, if a family member deals with them then you are more likely to deal with them, too.
Can you prevent hemorrhoids?
There are certain habits you can adopt to reduce your chances of getting hemorrhoids. This includes:
- Getting enough fiber every day
- Drinking water
- Getting regular exercise
If you are prone to hemorrhoids, then talk to your doctor about ways to change your diet or lifestyle to reduce your risk.
How are hemorrhoids treated?
Most of the time you can alleviate your symptoms and treat hemorrhoids with simple at-home measures such as:
- Incorporating more fiber into your diet
- Using a short course of over-the-counter hemorrhoid cream (topical steroids)
- Soaking in warm water (sitz bath)
- Avoiding dry toilet paper
- Applying a cold compress to the area
- Taking over-the-counter pain relievers
Most people will see hemorrhoid symptoms disappear in about a week. If you are still experiencing symptoms after a week or if you are experiencing severe symptoms, then you need to contact your care provider to discuss options. For internal hemorrhoids, a team of GI Associates gastroenterologists offers the CHR O’Regan treatment system. Performed in the office, this minimally invasive procedure requires no prep and no sedation and patients return to work the same day.
Symptomatic external hemorrhoids may require surgery to remove the veins causing the symptoms. If you have been diagnosed or are suspicious of underlying internal hemorrhoids give GI Associates in Wausau, WI, a call. We would be happy to schedule an evaluation for you.
Causes, diagnosis, and treatment of some of the most common swallowing disorders
Swallowing is like breathing; we barely think about it until something goes wrong. Swallowing disorders (also known as dysphagia) are more common that one might think.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association explains it like this: “We all have problems swallowing sometimes. We may have trouble chewing a tough piece of meat. We may gag on food or have to swallow hard to get it down. And we have all had a drink “go down the wrong way,” making us cough and choke. A person with a swallowing disorder will have trouble like this all the time.”
There are three phases in the act of swallowing. A person can have problems with just one of these phases or all three. The three phases are the oral, pharyngeal, and esophageal phase. It’s nicely illustrated in this video.
Signs of a problem
If you have a swallowing disorder, you probably are aware of its problems, but you may not know that it’s specific to swallowing. Common signs include:
- Coughing during or right after eating or drinking
- “Wet” sounding voice during or after eating or drinking
- Needing extra time or effort to chew or swallow
- Food or liquid leaking from your mouth
- Having a hard time breathing after meals
- Weight loss
Causes and treatments of swallowing disorders
Swallowing disorders can be caused from simple dry mouth to more complex neurological issues. Acid reflux disease is the most common cause of dysphagia, but there are other esophageal disorders that can also cause swallowing problems. Your family physician or gastroenterologist may do tests to determine the cause of your dysphagia.
Treatments will be determined by what type of dysphagia you have. You will work with your doctor to develop the best solution. Techniques include strengthening and retraining your muscles, surgery, or medications.
Have you or someone you know been diagnosed with Colitis? If so, you may be trying to get answers about this inflammatory gastrointestinal condition, what causes it, its symptoms and how it's best treated. Our Wausau, WI, gastroenterologists have you covered. Here’s what you should know about this intestinal disorder:
What is Colitis?
This condition causes inflammation and sometimes ulcers within the colon and rectum. There are several different kinds of colitis such as infectious, ischemic, ulcerative, microscopic and medication-induced.
What are the symptoms of colitis?
The most common symptoms of colitis are chronic diarrhea and a persistent urge to have a bowel movement. It’s common for there to be blood in the stool when you have ulcerative colitis. Along with diarrhea, you may also experience weight loss, abdominal pain, fatigue, and fever.
Some patients even experience spasms of the rectum. If you’ve been noticing persistent or bloody diarrhea or abdominal pain, it’s a good idea to give your GI doctor in Wausau a call to schedule an evaluation.
What causes this intestinal disorder?
Research is still being done to discover the causes of ulcerative colitis; however, it is believed that family history does play a role in who develops this condition and who doesn’t. If a family member has had colitis there is a chance you could have it too. Of course, environmental factors may also be to blame, as higher rates of colitis have been found within urban settings.
How is colitis treated?
The treatment options that are best for you will depend on the cause of your colitis. Once we figure out what’s causing it we can recommend the proper treatment options. For example, if colitis is due to an infection, you may need a round of antibiotics.
If your colitis is due to an autoimmune disease, called ulcerative colitis, you may need any one of several kinds of medications. Common options include anti-inflammatory medications such as corticosteroids, immunomodulators and immunosuppressant’s (to reduce inflammation). We will discuss the best options for you.
GI Associates of Wausau, WI, is here to help you feel better. No matter if you are dealing with unexplained abdominal pain, persistent diarrhea, blood in the stool or other symptoms, it’s important that you have a team of GI specialists who can help. Call us today to schedule an appointment with us.
This website includes materials that are protected by copyright, or other proprietary rights. Transmission or reproduction of protected items beyond that allowed by fair use, as defined in the copyright laws, requires the written permission of the copyright owners.