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You have bloating when:

  • → …you feel “too full”
  • → …you feel “tightness” or “pressure” in the belly.

Bloating is NOT:

  • → …the belly looking like it’s larger than normal 
  • → …the belly looking “round”, “puffy”, “full”, or “pregnant”

 

What is Bloating?

  • → Bloating occurs when there’s excess gas that is trapped in some parts of the digestive tract. 

Where is this excess gas coming from?

  • → You may have swallowed excess air while eating or drinking
  • → You drink too much carbonated drinks
  • → The natural process of nutrients in your body is being broken down by bacteria, leading to formation of gas.

Why do I get bloated?

  • → Your body is making too much gas 
  • → Your body can’t let out the gas fast enough, by burping or flatulence, than the air you’re taking in
  • → Both

How do I reduce bloating?

  • → Eat and drink slowly. The more relaxed and less hurried you are when you eat, the less air you swallow that contributes to bloating.
  • → Avoid drinking carbonated drinks and beer. These beverages release carbon dioxide gas.
  • → Eat less of the foods that make extra gas. Foods such as cabbage, beans, broccoli, cauliflower aren’t completely digested in the small intestines so they then move to the colon where they are broken down by bacteria that makes gas in the process.  
  • → Avoid or eat less of fructose and artificial sweeteners. Fructose and artificial sweeteners are also hard for the body to digest so they move to the colon, as well, to be broken down and make gas in that process.
  • → Avoid or limit dairy product intake. People who are lactose-intolerant cannot process lactose, sugar that is found in dairy products, in the small intestine so it moves to the colon to be broken down by bacteria and makes more gas in the process.
  • → Quit or reduce smoking. Inhaling smoke also makes you inhale and swallow air.
  • → Make sure your dentures fit properly. Eating or drinking with ill-fitting dentures tend to make you swallow excess air.

What’s the worst thing that can happen with bloating? 

  • → Bloating typically resolves itself or with simple changes.If these are the only symptoms you have, they rarely represent any serious underlying condition.

Consult your doctor if your symptoms don’t improve with simple changes, particularly if you also notice:

  • Diarrhea
  • Persistent or severe abdominal pain
  • Bloody stools
  • Changes in the color or frequency of stools
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Chest discomfort
  • Loss of appetite or feeling full quickly

These signs and symptoms could signal an underlying digestive condition. Intestinal symptoms can be embarrassing — but don’t let embarrassment keep you from seeking help.

Fatty Liver

Your liver has 500 vital functions -from regulating most of the chemicals in your body, filtering the blood from your stomach and intestines of drugs and other substances, to helping dispose of waste from the body and more.  It is said that without a functioning liver, one cannot survive. 

Fatty Liver occurs when your liver stores too much fat. Fatty liver disease or “Hepatic Steatosis” means you have a build-up of fat in your liver cells and it makes it harder for your liver to work. 

  • → If the excess fat in your liver is from alcohol, you have Alcohol-related Fatty Liver Disease (ALD).
  • → If the excess fat in your liver is not from alcohol, you have Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD).

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) 

Having a Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) can be broken down to two categories:

  1. Simple Fatty Liver Disease meaning you have fat in your liver but inflammation or liver damage is absent. 
  2. Non-Alcoholic SteatoHepatitis (NASH) meaning the fat build up in your liver is  or will be causing more problems to you and your liver. This is a more serious case as inflammation is present, as well as, cell damage, or it is most likely to occur.
    • CELL DAMAGE with NASH can lead to fibrosis (tissue scarring in the liver that impairs your liver and when unchecked can turn into cirrhosis) and liver cancer.

Alcoholic-related Liver Disease (ALD) 

Having an Alcoholic-related Liver Disease (ALD) is preventable and usually reversible, as soon as you stop drinking alcohol, from worsening to:

  1. Having an Enlarged Liver that causes pain and discomfort on the upper right side of your belly.
  2. Alcoholic Hepatitis is the swelling of the liver usually accompanied by fever, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain and jaundice(yellowing of the skin and eyes).
  3. Alcoholic Cirrhosis occurs when there is too much scarred liver tissue. Damage has been severe therefore scarring is severe. Liver function is severely negatively affected and causes:
    • → Fever, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain and jaundice
    • → Large amount of fluid build up in your belly (also known as Ascites)
    • → High blood pressure in the liver
    • → Bleeding in your body (Internal hemorrhage)
    • → Enlarged Spleen
    • → Confusion and changes in behavior
    • → Liver Failure

What to do when you have a Fatty Liver Disease?

  1. Exercise. Staying active helps burn those excess fat.
  2. Be kind to your liver. Be mindful of your food intake -less greasy, fatty foods.
    • Reduce or avoid alcohol intake.
    • Take only necessary medications and as instructed by your healthcare provider.
  • Get your cholesterol down. Choose foods that will help lower your cholesterol. Eat a nutrient-rich diet that’s low in excess calories, saturated fat, and trans fats.

These signs and symptoms could signal an underlying digestive condition. Intestinal symptoms can be embarrassing — but don’t let embarrassment keep you from seeking help.

CONSTIPATION

WHAT IS CONSTIPATION?

  • Bowel movements that occur less than two or three times per week.

You are CONSTIPATED when: 

  • ..stools can be challenging or painful to pass
  • ..you have small stools
  • ..you have dry stools
  • ..you have hard stools
  • ..you experience abdominal pain
  • ..you have blood in stools
  • ..you have lumpy stools
  • ..you experience abdominal bloating
  • ..you have unexplained weight loss

Why do I get constipated? 

  • Too much dairy 
  • Not enough water
  • Not enough fiber 
  • Not enough physical activity
  • Stress
  • Travel or changes in routine
  • Ignoring urges to use the bathroom
  • Medications such as antacids with calcium, antihistamines, antidepressants, diuretics, and antibiotic

Why should I treat constipation? Can cause:

  • Hemorrhoids (internal and external)
  • Anal fissures (tear in rectum)
  • Rectal prolapse (largel intestine goes into rectucum)
  • Fecal impaction (stool gets stuck in the rectum)

What can I do to treat this condition?

  • Conventional Treatment :
      • For temporary relief, utilize over the counter laxatives and stool softeners 
      • For chronic symptoms, the doctor may prescribe medications.
  • It is best treated with lifestyle changes such as increasing your water intake and daily exercise. Along with the increase of fiber in your diet. 
  • In severe cases both conventional and lifestyle changes are needed, but to prevent reoccurance the most important changes are in your diet and exercise

Consult your doctor if your symptoms don’t improve with simple changes.

The doctor will start by taking your medical history and performing a physical exam perhaps will order blood work. For those older than 50, a colonoscopy/ flexible sigmoidoscopy may be advised.

These signs and symptoms could signal an underlying digestive condition. Intestinal symptoms can be embarrassing — but don’t let embarrassment keep you from seeking help.

GASTROPARESIS

What is Gastroparesis

Gastroparesis is the delayed emptying of foods in the stomach which means food that you eat stays in the stomach longer than necessary rather than entering the small intestine. This happens when the stomach muscles are weak or dysfunctioning because the vagus nerve which controls stomach muscle movement, is damaged.

When you have Gastroparesis,  you may experience symptoms like heartburn, pain in the upper abdomen, nausea, vomiting of undigested food (sometimes several hours after a meal), feeling full after only a few bites of food and weight loss due to poor absorption of nutrients or low caloric intake. You may also experience abdominal bloating, unstable blood glucose levels, lack of appetite, gastroesophageal reflux, and abdominal spasms.

Some of the more common known causes of gastroparesis include diabetes, spinal cord injury, stress, psychiatric disease, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, scleroderma, viral infections, autoimmune conditions, amyloidosis, and also medication-induced and post-surgical gastroparesis, One of the common underlying themes in some of these conditions is nerve or nervous-system-related dysfunction.

An upper endoscopy can help diagnose if you truly have gastroparesis. Only after then can we focus on treatment and management. 

Conventional Treatment for Gastroparesis

Metoclopramide and Erythromycin are some of the most common medications that help relieve gastroparesis. Although, these medications come with side effects that vary from patient to patient. Some of the side effects are nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, feeling restless to feeling tired or drowsy, headaches and may cause sleep problems to some.

Natural Treatments for Gastroparesis

  • Try Iberogast and Motility Activator. These are natural supplements that contain properties that help with gastric emptying and gastrointestinal motility. 
  • Manage stress and get enough rest. The brain is directly connected to the gastrointestinal tract via the vagus nerve, which is a bidirectional information superhighway. Understanding the role of stress and emotion in modulating the motility of the gastrointestinal tract is a very important and often underappreciated concept. Figure out a way you can get a better handle on stress. Try changing your routine in order to feel more relaxed, exercise, meditate or get more rest. 
  • Be mindful of your food intake. Try the gastroparesis diet which usually entails meals that are low in fat and contain only soluble fiber. This diet is easier for the stomach to process. Go slow when eating. Slowly fill up your stomach, giving the stomach more time (and less stress) to empty.

GastroEsophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

What is GERD? 

GERD is short for GastroEsophageal Reflux Disease. It is a chronic disease that occurs when stomach acid, or bile, flows back into the food pipe and irritates the lining. Acid reflux and heartburn more than twice a week may indicate GERD.

When you have GERD, you may experience the most common symptoms such as regurgitating food or stomach contents to the throat or mouth, and heartburn which is a burning sensation in the chest. You may also experience sore throat, difficulty swallowing, stomach or chest pain, nausea or vomiting and unexplained cough.

When GERD is left untreated, it can turn into Barrett’s Esophagus or esophageal ulcers that can later turn to cancer.

Conventional Treatment for GERD:

  • GERD medications include:
    • Antacids, such as the brand Tums, Maalox, Mylanta and Rolaids
    • H2 acid blockers, such as Tagamet, Pepcid, Axid and Zantac
    • Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), such as Prilosec, Prevacid and Nexium.
  • Anti-reflux surgery 

Although these medications do work well for people with GERD, they do come with potential side effects. These include an increased risk of heart disease and digestive infections and disruption in the body’s microbiome which causes poor gut health, alters the immune system and increases the risk of serious infections

Natural Treatments for GERD

There are natural steps to ease your GERD symptoms without turning to medications that harm you after long-term use, or surgery. Below are easy but lifestyle changing steps that will help with your GERD symptoms and prevent worsening of GERD.

  • Be mindful of your food intake. Reduce or avoid fried foods, fatty foods, full fat dairy products, desserts and sugary snacks, tomato-base foods and spicy foods. Avoid overeating. Refrain from eating 2-3 hours before bedtime. 
  • Lose weight if obese or overweight.
  • Quit or reduce smoking and avoid secondhand smoke.
  • Manage stress and get enough rest. Figure out a way you can get a better handle on stress. Try changing your routine in order to feel more relaxed, exercise, meditate or get more rest.
  • Try Gaviscon Advance or Heartburn Advantage. These are natural supplements that help relieve heartburn and indigestion.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)?

IBD describes conditions that cause long-term inflammation in the digestive tract. There are two main diseases that fall under this umbrella; Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis. 

  • Crohn’s: 
  • Ulcerative Colitis: 

With IBD, you may feel and experience:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Stomach cramp 
  • Weight loss
  • Feeling tired
  • Dehydration
  • Skin sores
  • Not feeling hungry
  • Sudden urges to have bowel
  • Pain or bleeding with bowel movements
  • Not being able to hold your stool in

What should I do to relieve my IBD? 

  • Limit your fiber intake
  • Reduce Stress
  • Eat smaller meals
  • Keep a food journal

CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR IF YOUR SYMPTOMS DON’T IMPROVE 

How is it diagnosed:

  • Blood tests
  • Stool samples
  • Sigmoidoscopy
  • Colonoscopy
  • X Rays

Treatments include: 

  • Biologics
  • Medication
  • Surgery

These signs and symptoms could signal an underlying digestive condition. Intestinal symptoms can be embarrassing — but don’t let embarrassment keep you from seeking help.

S.I.B.O

What is SIBO? 

  • Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, or SIBO, is an excess amount of  bacteria located in the small intestine.

If you have SIBO, you may experience:

  • bloating 
  • increased passing of gas (flatulence)
  • diarrhea or constipation
  • abdominal pain
  • nausea
  • fatigue
  • low stomach acid
  • constipation
  • hormonal imbalance 

What are the factors?

In severe cases, the small intestine may not be able to absorb the proper nutrients which can then cause anemia (iron deficiency) and some weight loss. 

Who’s at risk?

Patients with previous health conditions such as with diabetes, lupus, scleroderma, HIV and immunoglobulin A deficiency are to be considered at a high risk for SIBO. 

How is it diagnosed? 

This is diagnosed by a specialist such as a gastroenterologist, who confirms diagnosis with a positive result from a lactulose breath test. 

What are common treatments, diet, and lifestyle recommendations? 

Treatment varies by case: mild, moderate, to severe. 

Once confirmed positive you will begin with a 14 day treatment of antibiotics, then transition  to antimicrobials with a combination of a strict diet and lifestyle recommendations for maintenance. 

These signs and symptoms could signal an underlying digestive condition. Intestinal symptoms can be embarrassing — but don’t let embarrassment keep you from seeking help.

Food Sensitivity

What is a Food Allergy? 

  • Is an abnormal immune reaction when a certain food has been eaten.

When triggered, you may experience: 

  • itchiness
  • swelling of the tongue
  • Swollen airways
  • vomiting
  • lips tingling 
  • diarrhea
  • hives 
  • trouble breathing, 
  • digestive problems
  • low blood pressure

What are the factors?

The most common food allergies are: cow’s milk, eggs, tree nuts (walnuts & pecans), peanuts, shellfish, fish, soy and wheat.

Who’s at risk?

This is an allergy that can unfortunately adapt during one’s childhood and is commonly known in children. In some cases the food allergy can resolve during adulthood, but primarily the cause of food allergies are unknown. There are treatments to help cope with symptoms but no known cure to get rid of the allergies for good. If you have a family history of asthma, eczema, hives or hay fever allergies you are likely to be at risk.

How is it diagnosed? 

This can be diagnosed by several specialists known as an Allergist, Gastroenterologist, Immunologist, Nutritionist and Pediatrician confirmed by testing such as a blood test or a skin test. 

What are common treatments, diet, and lifestyle recommendations? 

Food Allergies are treated with antihistamine, such as Benadryl, or in severe cases you will then need an injection of the drug epinephrine, also known as an epi pen. Most commonly once you receive test results you will be recommended to avoid the allergic foods at any cause to prevent an outbreak. 

These signs and symptoms could signal an underlying digestive condition. Intestinal symptoms can be embarrassing — but don’t let embarrassment keep you from seeking help.

 

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