Our Gastroenterology Blog
The science of health and wellness continues to advance in terms of treatments and cures, but one of the most reliable ways to detect and manage cancer in the earliest stages remains regular screenings, or medical tests that can detect the presence of cancer. At Gastrointestinal Specialists in Bala Cynwyd, PA, our team of doctors recommends all of our patients eventually undergo a colon cancer screening. If you’re not sure when you might need to schedule one, you’ve come to the right place!
What is a colon cancer screening?
When people hear that they need a colon cancer screening, they often assume they'll be scheduling a colonoscopy. While a colonoscopy, in which the intestines are viewed through a small lighted tube, is a very common test, the doctors at G.I. Specialists in Bala Cynwyd offer other tests available that can also detect the presence of colon cancer and precancerous conditions.
When do I need a colon cancer screening?
Most people should have a colonoscopy or other type of colon cancer screening by the time they have reached age 50. These screenings are typically performed once every five to ten years. However, your Bala Cynwyd gastroenterologist may recommend earlier screenings if you have a history of colon cancer or if someone in your immediate family has been diagnosed with it. People within the subset typically need to have screenings more often than those who do not carry this risk factor. People who have chronic G.I. issues such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease may also need earlier or more frequent screenings. Discussing your full medical history at your initial appointment will help determine the schedule that works best for you and your unique health issues.
Gastrointestinal Specialists have office locations in Bala Cynwyd, Langhorne, and Philadelphia, PA, so contact the location closest to you for convenient and caring attention to any gastrointestinal issue you may have.
What your gastroenterologists in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania want you to know.
You may have heard about hepatitis, but did you know there are five different types of hepatitis? They all infect your liver, but the signs, symptoms and effects of each type can be dramatically different. Your doctors at Gastrointestinal Specialists want to share the facts about hepatitis. They have several convenient office locations in Bala Cynwyd, Philadelphia, and Langhorne, Pennsylvania to serve you.
Let’s start with hepatitis A, which is caused by ingesting contaminated food or water. The symptoms of hepatitis A can include nausea and diarrhea, among others. You can prevent hepatitis A by receiving a vaccination.
Hepatitis B is caused by exposure to infected blood and other body fluids. Signs and symptoms can include jaundice, fatigue, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. Hepatitis B can be prevented by vaccination.
Hepatitis C is caused by exposure to infected blood through blood transfusions or intravenous drug use or needle sticks. It can also be transmitted by sexual contact. Hepatitis C may not produce any signs or symptoms for decades, making it difficult to diagnose until in the late stages. It can cause severe liver damage, cirrhosis and death.
Some signs and symptoms of hepatitis C include dark urine, jaundice, fatigue, fever, muscle and joint pain, nausea and stomach pain, among others. Unlike other types of hepatitis, there is no vaccine for hepatitis C. Treatment typically includes anti-viral medications including sofosbuvir and daclatasvir, alone or in combination.
Hepatitis D can occur when hepatitis B infection is present. When you are infected with both hepatitis B and D signs and symptoms are more extreme and the effects can be much worse than just a single infection. The hepatitis B vaccine can prevent infection of hepatitis D.
Hepatitis E is comparable to hepatitis A because it is acquired from ingesting contaminated food and water. A vaccination for hepatitis E has been developed but it is not easily available.
Hepatitis affects your liver and can cause permanent damage and even death. If you are suffering signs and symptoms of hepatitis, it’s time to get some help from the experts and call your doctors at Gastrointestinal Specialists, with offices in Bala Cynwyd, Philadelphia, and Langhorne, Pennsylvania. Call today!
Do you experience frequent acid reflux? The gastroenterologists at Gastrointestinal Specialists in Bala Cynywd, Bucks and Torresdale, PA, discuss the condition and explain treatment options.
What causes acid reflux?
Acid reflux occurs when acids flow out of your stomach and irritate the sensitive lining of your esophagus. The condition can occur if the sphincter that separates your esophagus and stomach doesn't close completely or is faulty. You may be more likely to experience acid reflux if you are pregnant, have a hiatal hernia, are overweight, smoke or use alcohol, drink caffeinated beverages or exercise too soon after eating.
The foods you eat and the medications you take can also increase your risk. Garlic, onions, spicy and fatty foods, chocolate, citrus fruits and tomatoes may trigger acid reflux. It can also occur as a side effect of certain medications, including some high blood pressure medications, ibuprofen or aspirin.
What can I do about acid reflux?
Have you noticed that certain actions, such as exercising immediately after a meal or drinking a big glass of orange juice with breakfast, cause your symptoms? If you can identify the triggers, reducing acid reflux can be as simple as eliminating the factors that cause the condition. Heartburn, nausea, regurgitation, burping and other acid reflux problems can occur more frequently if you sleep flat on your back. Elevating the head of your bed will help prevent acid from flowing back into your esophagus.
Taking over-the-counter antacids and other medications that decrease the production of acid can be helpful if you have acid reflux. If your symptoms continue or worsen, make a visit to our Bala Cynwyd, Bucks or Torresdale offices. An endoscopy, a test that looks inside your esophagus and stomach, may be recommended if you have chronic acid reflux. During the endoscopy, your gastroenterologist passes a flexible scope that contains a miniature camera into your mouth. The camera transmits images of the lining of your stomach and esophagus to a digital screen.
Based on the results of your endoscopy, your gastroenterologist may prescribe medications that lower the amount of acid your stomach produces, such as H2 blockers or proton pump inhibitors. Prokinetics may also be prescribed. The drugs make your esophageal sphincter stronger and also helps food travel through your stomach faster. If more conservative treatment options aren't helpful, surgery may be recommended in some cases.
Effective treatment options can improve your acid reflux symptoms. Schedule an appointment with the gastroenterologists at Gastrointestinal Specialists by calling (610) 664-9700 for the Bala Cynwyd office, (215) 702-7090 for the Bucks office or (215) 632-3500 for the Torresdale office.
The gastrointestinal tract is a complex and very important system in your body. It is responsible for helping you digest your food properly, get necessary nutrients, and ultimately eliminate waste. A colonoscopy test allows your gastroenterologist to ensure that it is healthy. Understand the process of getting a colonoscopy at Gastrointestinal Specialists in Bala Cynwyd, Bucks and Torresdale, PA and learn when you should start having this test.
What Does a Colonoscopy Check For?
During a colonoscopy, your doctor will insert a flexible tool called a colonoscope into the rectum. This tool has the ability to take images of the interior lining of the digestive tract. The colonoscopy checks for abnormalities, ulcers, polyps, and other unusual growths in the colon. When an abnormality is identified, like a polyp, it can be removed with a similar procedure. A biopsy can be taken of abnormal growths. Colonoscopies are a key step to preventing cases of colon cancer.
When Should You Have This Test?
Your Bala Cynwyd, Bucks and Torresdale-based gastroenterologist will suggest that you have this test if any of the following are true:
- You have reached your 50th birthday.
- You are experiencing persistent pain and discomfort in your bowels, stomach or abdomen.
- There is a personal or familial history of colon cancer.
- There’s a personal history of bowel disease.
Preparing for a Colonoscopy
Before you have a colonoscopy, you must follow strict instructions from the doctor’s office. The preparation process includes the following:
- Eat fiber-rich foods and fruits the week in advance to ensure consistent bowel movement.
- Enjoy a clear liquid diet the day before the appointment.
- Take the laxative provided by your doctor as prescribed to clear your colon of waste.
- Do not eat or drink anything two hours before the procedure (you may be asked to avoid consuming anything at all from the night before).
- Drink the barium prep provided by your doctor exactly as prescribed.
Is It Time to Schedule a Test?
If you believe that it’s time you have a colonoscopy, schedule one with the Gastrointestinal Specialists located in Bala Cynwyd, Bucks and Torresdale, PA. Call today to make an appointment with a qualified gastroenterologist.
Whether you've been diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or suspect that you may have the disease, you probably have a few questions. The gastroenterologists at Gastrointestinal Specialists in Torresdale, Bucks County and Bala Cynwyd, PA, discuss several things you should know about IBD.
What is IBD?
As the name implies, IBD causes inflammation in your digestive tract. When the sensitive tissues of your gastrointestinal system become inflamed, diarrhea, cramping, pain and other symptoms can occur. Ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease are the most common types of IBD. Nationally, approximately 1.6 million people are affected by IBD, according to the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation.
What are the symptoms of IBD?
In addition to diarrhea, pain and cramping, common symptoms include:
- Lack of appetite and weight loss
- Bloody stools or stool covered in pus
- Urgent need to defecate
- Delayed growth in children
- Anal fistulas
What is the difference between Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis?
If you have Crohn's disease, inflammation can occur anywhere in your gastrointestinal tract, while ulcerative colitis affects only the large intestine and rectum. Although the inflammation caused by Crohn's disease can penetrate multiple layers of tissue, ulcerative colitis only affects the digestive tract lining. In addition to inflammation, ulcerative colitis also causes open sores, or ulcers, in the large intestine and rectum.
How is IBD treated?
Both Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are chronic conditions. Although they can't be cured, their symptoms can be managed. When you visit our Torresdale, Bucks County or Bala Cynwyd offices, one or more of these treatments may be recommended:
- Anti-diarrheal medication
- Vitamin B-12 shots to prevent anemia
- Calcium and vitamin D supplementation to reduce your osteoporosis risk
- Antibiotics to treat infections and help fistulas heal
- Prescription anti-inflammatories that reduce the inflammation in your digestive tract
- Prescription immune system suppressors that prevent your body from releasing the chemicals that cause inflammation
- Surgery to remove the damaged sections of your digestive tract
The symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease can be managed or reduced by following the recommendations of your gastroenterologist. Are you concerned about your symptoms? Call Gastrointestinal Specialists to schedule an appointment. Call (215) 632-3500 for the Torresdale office, (215) 702-7090 for the Bucks County office and (610) 664-9700 for the Bala Cynwyd office.
One of the diseases that gastroenterologists screen for regularly is colon cancer, also called colorectal cancer or CRC. Modern screening techniques available at Gastrointestinal Specialists in Philadelphia, Langhorne and Bala Cynwyd, PA make it relatively simple to identify this condition in its early stages so that you and your doctor can take urgent steps to treat it. Learn more about screening for CRC, including recommended tests and risk factors.
Colon Cancer Concerns
The American Cancer Society estimates that there are over 135,000 cases of colon and rectal cancer diagnosed each year. It is most common in patients who are overweight and have a poor diet. It is slightly more common in men than women, but both genders should be screened. Here are a few other risk factors:
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Smoking for a long time
- Excessive (heavy) alcohol consumption
- Age (more common in people over 50)
- Having other health concerns, like type 2 diabetes or certain inherited syndromes
The mortality rate from colon cancer has been dropping consistently in large part due to screening tests. They allow your doctor to catch and remove any polyps before they become a problem. There are a few situations that may prompt your gastroenterologist to encourage you to get screened as soon as possible:
- You’ve passed your 50th birthday (some patients under 50 may also need regular screenings)
- There’s a family history of colon disease
- A past diagnosis of colorectal cancer (CRC)
The screening tests include a digital rectal exam, annual blood tests on stool, sigmoidoscopy (every five years) and colonoscopy (required every 10 years). These are outpatient procedures that often take an hour or less of your time. If a screening reveals a potential issue, your gastroenterologist can take immediate steps to neutralize the problem. That may be to either remove the growth or implement a more aggressive treatment plan. Treatments for colon cancer are most successful when the disease is caught in its early stages.
Call for a Consultation in Philadelphia, Langhorne and Bala Cynwyd, PA
Your doctor can provide a number of options for you to get screened for colon cancer. Call the Gastrointestinal Specialists today to set up a consultation appointment with a Philadelphia, Langhorne and Bala Cynwyd, PA GI doctor.
As you age, you may be overwhelmed by all the procedures and tests that your doctors recommend in order to keep your health in check. One of the most important screenings is a colonoscopy, a text that examines the inside of your large intestine. While many health screenings are required yearly, colonoscopies and other tests like it can usually be performed just once or twice every decade.
Prevention is crucial
Although early diagnosis can keep colon cancer from spreading, prevention is the best method of fighting cancer. For this reason, your Bala Cynwyd gastroenterologist recommends that all men and women over 50 years of age should have at least one of the following screening tests:
Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years - A gastroenterologist uses a thin, flexible tube, called a scope, to view the inside of the rectum and the lower, or sigmoid, colon. The end that is placed in the colon through the rectum has a tiny light and camera that allows the doctor to see the inside of the colon clearly. This exam, which takes approximately 20 minutes, and others like it require preparation beforehand. This usually involves taking laxatives and maintaining a liquid diet at least 24 hours prior to clear the colon of any debris. Your doctor will provide step-by-step instructions on how to prepare for the test.
Colonoscopy every 10 years - A colonoscopy is performed in the same way as a flexible sigmoidoscopy; the only difference is that it examines the entire colon rather than just the lower region. It will also require a sedative during the procedure, which takes between 30 and 45 minutes.
Double-contrast barium enema every 5 years - Barium, a liquid compound, shows up as silvery white on an X-ray. This fluid is administered into the rectum in order to view the colon and detect any abnormalities. Since the colon must be empty in order to obtain the best pictures, the preparation is the same as other lower GI procedures.
CT colonography every 5 years - This is a "virtual" colonoscopy that is much less invasive than a traditional colonoscopy. Using computed tomography (CT), a machine will scan the lower body to obtain pictures of the inside of the colon. While the preparation is the same, there is no anesthesia involved and 95% of patients report very little or no discomfort during the procedure, which takes about 15 minutes.
People with increased risk of colon abnormalities may need more frequent testing. Those who have a personal or close family history of colorectal cancer or polyps, or have a personal history of inflammatory bowel conditions such as ulcerative colitis or Chron's Disease, should receive screenings every one to two years beginning at age 40. If genetic testing reveals a family history of hereditary colon problems, testing may need to begin earlier and performed more often.
Just minutes of your time every few years can make a huge difference in your quality of life. Don't wait - contact the GI Specialists of Northeast Philadelphia today to learn more and schedule a screening.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, also known as GERD, is a condition where the contents of the stomach flow back directly into the esophagus. This occurs when the valve between the two (the lower esophageal sphincter) doesn’t close properly. GERD symptoms can be difficult to learn with. However, with the help of your gastroenterologists at Gastrointestinal Specialists in Philadelphia and Langhorne, PA, (also serving the Bala Cynwyd greater Northeast Philadelphia areas) and your pain and discomfort can be resolved quickly.
Symptoms of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Some of the most common symptoms of GERD include:
- Acid regurgitation (stomach fluid from the chest reaching the mouth)
- Chest Pain
- Sore Throat
The cause of GERD can be determined after a thorough examination from your Philadelphia and Langhorne, PA, doctors, whom also serving the Bala Cynwyd greater Northeast Philadelphia areas. Oftentimes this condition occurs when there is an imbalance between the acid and digestive juices as well as enzymes in the stomach and the normal mechanisms within the esophagus. The barrier is impaired due to dysfunction in the sphincter or because of a hiatal hernia. A major cause is obesity because there is increased pressure in the abdomen. Excessive alcohol use, smoking, pregnancy and consumption of certain foods (coffee, citrus, tomato-based products, peppermint or fatty foods) also can cause GERD symptoms too.
Your gastroenterologists can also diagnose patients with an upper endoscopy where a scope is put down the throat to examine the stomach and the esophagus. Other pH testing can be done to test the acidity of a patient’s stomach. After it is determined that a patient has GERD, they can offer treatment methods such as proton pump inhibitor medication that block acid production or in severe cases, surgery. This is done for those that cannot tolerate medication and have major regurgitation issues. Surgery to repair a hiatal hernia may also be recommended.
To schedule an important appointment with a gastroenterologist at Gastrointestinal Specialists, call the Philadelphia and Langhorne, PA, offices (also serving the Bala Cynwyd greater Northeast Philadelphia areas)
Sometimes it's easy to guess what's causing your stomach to hurt: a large meal or the virus known as the stomach flu, for example. But ongoing abdominal pain can be distressing, particularly if you don't know what's causing it. The physicians at Gastrointestinal Specialists in Torresdale, Bucks and Bala Cynwyd, PA have extensive training in gastroenterology, the study of the digestive tract, to determine the cause of your stomach pain and how to resolve it. A few of the most common causes of stomach pain are listed here.
The inability to have a regular bowel movement is a common problem that affects most people at least one time in their lives. While the frequency of passing stool varies from person to person, constipation is typically defined as having fewer than three bowel movements a week. As the stool hardens after this much time in the body, constipation can lead to stomach pain, swelling and even vomiting in some cases. After an exam, your Bala Cynwyd gastroenterologist will often recommend a diet change, including drinking more water and introducing fiber-rich foods into your meals. Laxatives can also help soften the stool and make them easier to pass.
When cholesterol or bodily fluids harden in the gallbladder, this creates gallstones. Most people don't know they have them until they block a bile duct, which causes pain in the upper abdomen and back, nausea, and heartburn. Gallstones are usually a result of a high-fat diet or a complication of diabetes or pregnancy. If you have gallstones, your Bala Cynwyd gastroenterologist may prescribe medicine to help break down the stones. You may also need surgery to remove the gallbladder altogether.
If a sore develops in the lining of the stomach or upper small intestine, it's called an ulcer. Many people with ulcers have a gnawing or burning pain in between meals which is temporarily quelled by eating. Diagnosed by your Bala Cynwyd gastroenterologist through imaging tests, ulcers can be treated by diet changes or medication. In some severe cases, surgery is needed.
If you're having stomach pain, we here at Gastrointestinal Specialists in Torresdale, Bucks and Bala Cynwyd, PA are here to help! Give us a call to schedule an appointment today!
Wondering if you really need that colonoscopy your doctor recommended? Your Torresdale, Bucks and Bala Cynwyd, PA gastroenterologists at Gastrointestinal Specialists explain why colon cancer screening is so important and discuss colon cancer screening tests.
Colon cancer symptoms are not always obvious
In the early stages of colon cancer, you may have no symptoms. Common colon cancer symptoms, such as blood in the stool, a change in bowel habits, bloating, abdominal pain or weight loss, may only occur when the cancer spreads. Colon cancer screenings can detect cancer or pre-cancerous polyps long before they cause any symptoms.
Types of screening tests in Torresdale, Bucks and Bala Cynwyd
Colonoscopy is the most well-known type of colon cancer screening test. After you use laxatives to clear your bowels, your gastroenterologist inserts a flexible scope into your anus and passes it through your large intestine to the beginning of your small intestine. The lighted scope contains a tiny camera that transmits images to a digital screen. If your doctor notices any polyps during the screening, he removes them immediately. Although many polyps are benign, some are cancerous or pre-cancerous. Since your risk of colon cancer increases with age, initial colonoscopies are recommended at age 50.
Colonoscopies are the most used type of colon cancer screening tests because polyps and other problems can be detected and treated during the procedure. In some cases, your doctor may recommend other screening tests instead of or in addition to a colonoscopy, including:
- Virtual Colonoscopy: Virtual colonoscopy offers an alternative to traditional colonoscopy. If your results are abnormal, you may still need a traditional colonoscopy. The test is performed by examining computerized tomography (CT) images taken after air is pumped air into your colon and rectum.
- Flexible Sigmoidoscopy: The flexible sigmoidoscopy procedure is similar to a colonoscopy, but only your rectum and the lower part of your colon are examined. Polyps can also be removed during this test.
- Barium Enema: This X-ray test involves injecting barium into your rectum to produce a clear image of the colon. If abnormalities or polyps are spotted, your doctor may recommend a colonoscopy.
- Stool Tests: Home test kits provided by your doctor can detect small amounts of blood in your stool. Your sample is sent to a medical laboratory for examination.
A colon cancer screening offers an easy way to safeguard your health. Call your Torresdale, Bucks and Bala Cynwyd, PA gastroenterologists at Gastrointestinal Specialists to schedule an appointment to discuss the right screening option for you.
Find out more about this gastrointestinal procedure and why it’s recommended.
Are you dealing with strange GI symptoms that you just can’t pinpoint the root cause of? Are you noticing problems like diarrhea, upset stomach, gas or bloating? If so, then it might be time to talk to one of our Philadelphia, Langhorne and Bala Cynwyd, PA gastroenterologists about what might be causing your symptoms and whether an upper endoscopy could shed some light.
What is an upper endoscopy?
This procedure uses a flexible, thin tube with a small camera at the end to view and examine the stomach, esophagus and the first portion of the small intestines. This procedure usually can be performed right here in our gastrointestinal office as an outpatient procedure.
When is an upper endoscopy recommended?
Our Philadelphia, Langhorne and Bala Cynwyd GI doctor may recommend an upper endoscopy if you are experiencing any of these issues and can’t determine the cause:
- Problems swallowing
- Digestive bleeding
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal pain
Endoscopies are also great for pinpointing tumors, ulcers and inflammation. In fact, an upper endoscopy is actually much better than an X-ray for detecting cancer or other growths within the digestive system.
Plus, some issues can actually be treated through an endoscopy including ulcer-related bleeding, polyps and narrowing of the stomach or esophagus.
What should I expect during my procedure?
The procedure only takes about 15 to 20 minutes to complete. The first thing that we will do is apply a local anesthetic to the back of the throat. An IV will also be used to administer both sedation and pain relief to help you feel relaxed and comfortable.
You will then lie on your side for the procedure and we will carefully insert the endoscope into your mouth until we reach the upper digestive tract. After your procedure, you may have a wait a few days to get your results.
Don’t let gastrointestinal issues keep you from the things you love. Turn to one of our Philadelphia, Langhorne and Bala Cynwyd, PA GI doctors at Gastrointestinal Specialists for the answers you’ve been looking for and get your body feeling good as new again.
Suffering from frequent, urgent stools, constipation or both? You may have IBS, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome. The International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders states that 10 to 15 percent of adult Americans have IBS of one severity or another. Women tend to have it more than men, but even children and senior adults may suffer from it at least periodically.
The physicians at Gastrointestinal Specialists in Bucks, Torresdale and Bala Cynwyd, PA understand the discomfort and lifestyle disruption Irritable Bowel Syndrome causes. So, they offer accurate diagnostics, ongoing treatment and coaching to manage this chronic GI problem.
Symptoms of and Reasons for IBS
Signs of IBS vary widely, but can include:
- frequent, urgent, loose stools
- pus and blood in a bowel movement
- pain, gas and bloating
- nausea and heartburn
Physicians speculate that something has gone awry with how the GI tract, nervous system and brain itself interact when a person struggles with an irritable bowel. Acute and chronic stress exacerbate the condition, and inflammation of the colon is a key component of the disease.
In addition, gastrointestinal experts feel that certain foods, such as those containing a lot of hot spices, caffeine or soluble fiber, play a role in flare-ups, as does the "fizziness" of soda. And, of course, as with so many medical problems, heredity is powerful. IBS definitely runs in families.
Diagnosis and Treatment in Bucks, Torresdale and Bala Cynwyd
Your gastroenterologist looks at patient symptoms carefully when considering IBS. He may order tests such as endoscopy or colonoscopy, which can be done on-site at Gastrointestinal Specialists. A complete blood count (CBC) and stool examination for Crohn's Disease frequently assist the doctor in ruling out other GI conditions.
While as needed medications such as anti-diarrhea drugs and anti-spasmodics assist with management of IBS, some patients benefit from long-term drugs such as some anti-depressants. They seem to sooth the nerves in the colon.
Additionally, your gastroenterologist recommends dietary changes which calm the smooth lining of the intestines. They include:
- limiting caffeine
- eliminating one possible irritating food at a time (e.g. navy beans or chili sauce)
- reducing gluten
- managing stress levels with counseling and relaxation techniques
- decreasing soluble fiber from fruits with skins and from fibrous vegetables
Let Us Help
If you think you are one of the millions of adults who struggle with an irritable bowel, get help. At Gastrointestinal Specialists, the doctors are highly trained and experienced in all areas of GI care and can assist you in a better quality of life. Contact one of the convenient office locations today for an appointment. Call (215) 632-3500 in Torresdale. In Bucks, phone (215) 702-7090 and in Bala Cynwyd call (610) 664-9700.
Could your pesky gastrointestinal symptoms be caused by this digestive disorder?
When it comes to dealing with GI problems, it’s difficult to pinpoint on your own what is going on. That’s why our Philadelphia, Langhorne and Bala Cynwyd, PA team of gastroenterologists is here to help make your diagnosis and treatment easier. If you are concerned that your symptoms could be due to Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), you’re not alone. It’s estimated that about 1.4 million Americans suffer from this problem. So, what exactly is it and how can you manage your symptoms?
What is IBD?
This group of disorders is characterized by chronic inflammation of all or some of the digestive tract. The two most common forms of IBD are ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, which you may have already heard of.
With ulcerative colitis you are more likely to experience not only inflammation of the digestive system but also ulcers in the colon and rectum. The inflammation caused by Crohn’s disease, on the other hand, can spread deep into the tissues and affect the large intestines, small intestines or sometimes both.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of IBD aren’t all the same and it will depend on where the inflammation is in the digestive tract and how severe it is. Some people may only experience minor discomfort while others’ digestive symptoms may be severe. Symptoms that are both common to Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis include:
- Low-grade fever
- Abdominal pain and cramping
- Nausea and vomiting
- Blood in the stool
- Loss or reduced appetite
- Unexpected or sudden weight loss
How can my Philadelphia, Langhorne and Bala Cynwyd, PA GI doctor help?
As you may have already guessed, the goal of treatment is to reduce inflammation and to stay away from anything that could cause these symptoms to flare-up. One of the most common types of medications used is anti-inflammatory medication. This includes treatments like corticosteroids or aminosalicylates (Azulfidine).
Another type of medication prescribed is an immune system suppressor, which reduces inflammation by suppressing the immune system. Common types of suppressors include Stelara and Imuran.
If you have ulcerative colitis and are currently dealing with a fever, your GI expert in Philadelphia, Langhorne and Bala Cynwyd may also prescribe an antibiotic to prevent infection. Come antibiotics include Cipro and Flagyl.
Other medications that may also help manage your IBD symptoms include:
- Pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen
- Anti-diarrheal medications
- Iron supplements
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B-12 shots
If over time you discover that medications and lifestyle changes don’t provide relief then it may be time to consider surgery.
If your symptoms are pointing to IBD then it’s time you found out. Turn to the Gastrointestinal Specialists in Philadelphia, Langhorne and Bala Cynwyd, PA to help improve your digestive health.
Find out more about this condition that plagues more than 3 million Americans each year.
Sometimes heartburn is just heartburn, other times it’s trying to tell you that something else is going on. If you have consistent heartburn, you could be dealing with gastroesophageal reflux disease (or GERD). Anytime you are dealing with heartburn and you aren’t sure why it’s important to talk to one of the Northeast Philadelphia, Langhorne, and Bala Cynwyd, PA gastroenterologists at Gastrointestinal Specialists.
What is Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)?
When digestion is normal, the lower esophageal sphincter opens to allow food into the stomach and closes to prevent stomach acid and food from going back into the esophagus. But when the lower esophageal sphincter is weak or not working properly, gastroesophageal reflux occurs and the contents in the stomach go back into the esophagus.
How severe your condition is will depend on how poorly functioning the lower esophageal sphincter is, as well as how much of the stomach’s contents goes back into the esophagus.
What are the symptoms?
While the most common symptom of GERD is heartburn, not everyone with this condition will experience heartburn. Heartburn is a burning pain in the chest and often occurs after mealtimes. Other symptoms include,
- Acidic taste in the mouth
- A lump in the throat feeling
- Bad breath
- Persistent dry cough
- Chest pain (with any chest pain, it’s important to see immediate medical attention to make sure that this isn’t being caused by a more serious condition)
What are my treatment options?
If you are taking over-the-counter heartburn relievers often or notice that your symptoms stick around even when taking medication, it’s time to turn to your gastroenterologist in Northeast Philadelphia, Langhorne, and Bala Cynwyd.
The most common treatment options include using over-the-counter medications like antacids to control your symptoms. But for those who aren’t experiencing the relief they need from these remedies there are these other options:
- H-2 receptor blockers: These medications are used to reduce acid production. While they won’t respond as fast as antacids, the relief is usually longer (up to 12 hours).
- Proton pump inhibitors: These medications not only block acid production, but also facilitate esophageal healing.
While both of these medications can be found at your local drugstore, stronger versions can also be obtained by visiting us for a prescription. If medications do not control your condition we can also talk to you about your surgical treatment options.
If you are experiencing any symptoms of GERD then it’s important to turn to our team of GI specialists in Northeast Philadelphia, Langhorne, and Bala Cynwyd, PA for a proper diagnosis. Call Gastrointestinal Specialists to schedule your next appointment.
My Stomach Hurts! Should I See a Doctor?
Common causes of stomach pain
Most people, at one time or another, have experienced stomach pain commonly called a stomach ache. Stomach pain can be intermittent or continuous, and the pain can be sharp or dull, and everything in between. If your stomach hurts, it might be time to stop in and see your gastroenterologist in Bala Cynwyd, Dr. Geoffrey Braden.
Some of the main reasons you might feel stomach pain are from inflammation, intestinal problems or infection. You can also feel stomach pain if you have the flu, or are under a lot of stress. Sometimes pain is just one symptom. You might also experience constipation, diarrhea or vomiting. The pain can be in one spot (localized), or spread out (generalized).
Stomach pain can also happen from diseases including:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
- Crohn’s Disease (inflammatory bowel disease)
- Lactose Intolerance (can’t digest lactose, sugar found in milk and other dairy products)
- There are some things you can do at home to relieve stomach pain. You can try:
- A simple diet of bananas, rice, applesauce and toast (BRAT) for a day or two
- Taking small amounts of lemon or lime juice
- Eating food in smaller amounts
- Taking small amounts of baking soda
- Taking ginger or peppermint
- Licorice and chamomile tea
- Medications and antacids such as Pepto-Bismol and Zantac
It is important that you stop smoking and drinking alcohol. You should also avoid aspirin or NSAID medications until the doctor finds out what is causing your pain. These medications can cause bleeding and may make your symptoms or condition worse.
If you find that the stomach pain does not go away, you might need to see your gastroenterologist for a consultation. You should make an appointment if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- A fever greater than 101 degrees
- Vomiting blood or bloody stools
- Finding it hard to breathe
- Yellowing of your eyes and skin
- Swelling of your abdomen
- If pain is so bad you can’t sit still or need to curl up to get relief
The doctors of Gastrointestinal Specialists can help, so if you are having stomach pain, you owe to yourself to get some relief. Stop by for a quick consultation with Dr. Geoffrey Braden today!
Find out if certain symptoms you’re experiencing could be warning signs of colon cancer.
Did you know that colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States? Anywhere from 200,000 to 3 million new cases will be diagnosed in the US each year. Find out what puts both men and women at risk for developing this form of cancer and what symptoms are telling you that it’s time to schedule an appointment with our Bala Cynwyd gastroenterologist Dr. Geoffrey Braden.
Symptoms of Colon Cancer
Since symptoms often appear once colon cancer has spread it’s important to get screened routinely even if you aren’t experiencing symptoms. When colon cancer is found through a routine screening it is usually easy to treat. If you do experience symptoms then it’s imperative that you see your gastroenterologist in Bala Cynwyd right away.
While many of these symptoms can also be indicative of other less serious issues like an infection or hemorrhoids, it’s still important not to take your symptoms lightly. If you experience any of these symptoms it’s time to schedule an appointment with us:
- Any changes in bowel function (e.g. diarrhea; constipation) that last for more than a couple of days
- Not feeling relieved after having a bowel movement
- Dark or bloody stools
- Abdominal pain
- Unexpected weight loss
Who should be screened for colon cancer?
The American Cancer Society recommends that everyone get routine screening starting at age 50. Those with a family history of colon cancer or those at risk should talk to us about the benefits of getting screened earlier in life. These screenings help us detect issues before they become too serious. In fact, if colon cancer is detected early enough before it has actually spread the 5-year survival rate is 90 percent.
Are there any GI symptoms that are concerning you? Don’t ignore them. Turn to Gastrointestinal Specialists in Bala Cynwyd to diagnose and treat all of your gastrointestinal problems.
Find out why your Bala Cynwyd gastroenterologist might advise you to get a colonoscopy.
While it might be embarrassing to talk about, intestinal issues still need to be addressed. If you’ve been experiencing certain disconcerting symptoms than hopefully you’ve seen your Bala Cynwd gastroenterologist for a proper diagnosis. If you haven’t, what are you waiting for? If you have and we’ve recommended a colonoscopy find out more about this procedure and why it’s necessary.
What is a colonoscopy?
During this procedure your Bala Cynwyd gastroenterologist uses a small, flexible tube to examine the inner lining of your large intestines to check for any problems such as unusual growths, bleeding or inflammation.
Why might my Bala Cynwyd gastroenterologist recommend this procedure?
If you are experiencing symptoms such as blood in the stool, changes in bowel movements, unexplained abdominal pain, or chronic diarrhea or constipation then we may advise you to have a colonoscopy to determine the root cause of these abnormalities. A colonoscopy is also used to detect colorectal cancer or precancerous conditions. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer we may also recommend regular colonoscopies.
What should I expect when I get a colonoscopy?
This procedure is performed on an outpatient basis and only takes between 30 minutes to one hour to complete. First, we will first put an IV into your arm and administer medication through the IV to make you feel sleepy and relaxed. You will then lie down on your side so we can start the procedure.
During your procedure, we will insert the thin instrument into the rectum and slowly move it into the large intestines where we will be able to examine your colon and detect any issues. If a growth or abnormality is found, your Bala Cynwyd GI specialist will perform a biopsy, in which we remove some of the tissue for further analysis. We will usually be able to tell you the cause of your symptoms after your procedure, but the results of any laboratory tests we run (e.g. biopsy) may take a week or more.
If you are experiencing any of these problematic symptoms, then it’s time you visited your Bala Cynwyd GI doctor. A colonoscopy is a great tool for diagnosing gastrointestinal issues so we can stop your abdominal issues fast. Call Gastrointestinal Specialists today!
Find out what could be to blame for your nagging heartburn symptoms.
While we might love food, it’s unfortunate when that food doesn’t love us back! If you suffer from heartburn, find out what could be causing your symptoms, so you can put a stop to the pain and put the joy back into daily mealtimes.
Big meals: It can be easy to get so hungry that we shovel food in without taking the time to figure out that we are full. However, a large meal can stretch the stomach, putting pressure on an area of this digestive organ that helps to keep stomach acid moving. This means that a large meal can spell trouble for your digestive tract. To prevent heartburn, your Bala Cynwyd gastroenterologist suggests eating slowly to give your body time to figure out that it’s full, or to swap out three large meals for five or six small meals each day.
Fatty foods: That greasy cheeseburger might sound like a marvelous idea, but your stomach certainly has other plans. While it’s a good rule of thumb to avoid fatty foods whenever possible, this is particularly important for those who suffer from heartburn. Since fat stays in the stomach longer, it can cause more stomach acid and irritate the digestive system. So nix the drive-through fast-food and opt for a healthier choice for your next meal. Your stomach will thank you!
Eating too late: We’ve all been there: a long, busy day at the office that has us scrounging for food well into the night. Unfortunately, that late-night meal could be right before bed could give you a nasty case of heartburn. Your Bala Cynwyd gastroenterologist recommends that you eat your last meal for the night about two to three hours before you hit the sack.
Avoid these triggers: Just as it’s important to know what and how to eat properly to prevent heartburn, it’s also vital to keep no-no foods out of your diet. These common triggers include alcohol (red wine is a serious culprit), spicy foods, chocolate, coffee, tomatoes, citrus fruits and juices, chocolate, tea, and soda.
If you are suffering from persistent heartburn, then it might be time to see your gastroenterologist for treatment. Let the GI Specialists of Bala Cynwyd help effectively treat your symptoms.
Discover the cause of your gastrointestinal symptoms with this non-invasive endoscopic procedure.
Are you dealing with unexplained abdominal issues? Maybe you are experiencing stomach pains or nausea and you’re ready to get to the bottom of this. If you’ve already visited your Bala Cynwd, PA gastroenterologist about your symptoms than a wireless capsule endoscopy may have been discussed. Find out more about what a wireless capsule endoscopy entails and whether it’s right for you.
What is a wireless capsule endoscopy?
This FDA-approved non-invasive procedure allows your doctor to look at and study the middle portion (also known as the small intestines) of your gastrointestinal tract. A pill-shaped capsule that contains a camera will be swallowed and used to take photos of the inside of your digestive tract to pinpoint problems and diagnose conditions that could be causing your GI symptoms. A sensor will also be placed on your stomach to record all the images the capsule captures.
Why does my Bala Cynwd, PA gastroenterologist recommend a capsule endoscopy?
If you are dealing with symptoms that could be indicative of problems in the small intestines, your gastroenterologist may advise that you have a capsule endoscopy performed. Since this portion of the tract cannot be viewed through other traditional measures like a colonoscopy, this is often the best way to diagnose your condition.
What will a wireless capsule endoscopy be able to detect?
The most common reason we may recommend this type of endoscopy is to detect bleeding within the small intestines; however, it can also pick up on ulcers, tumors, polyps and even signs of Crohn’s disease in the small intestines.
How do I prepare for a wireless capsule endoscopy?
This procedure will be performed on an empty stomach, so you will refrain from eating for about 12 hours before the endoscopy. Your Bala Cynwd, PA gastroenterologist will give you more details about when to stop eating before your procedure.
You should also talk to your doctor about any medications you are currently taking, as you may need to stop taking these medications prior to your treatment. Be sure to discuss your entire medical history during your consultation to prevent complications.
If you have any questions about an upcoming capsule endoscopy or if you are experiencing abdominal problems, then it’s time to call Dr. Geoffrey Braden, your Bala Cynwd, PA gastroenterologist, for care.
When most people hear the word colonoscopy, they have a negative reaction. They think that it will be uncomfortable and embarrassing. But the important thing to keep in mind is that a colonoscopy can save your life. Dr. Geoffrey L. Braden at G.I. Specialists of Northeast Philadelphia is here to help put you at ease.
For most people, beginning at the age of 50 you should have a screening colonoscopy every ten years. For some people who have certain risk factors, such as a close relative who has colon cancer, a screening colonoscopy should be performed more often. You and your doctor can make that determination. It is essential to know though that everyone is at risk for colorectal cancer and should be screened regularly.
What is a colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy visualizes the entire length of the colon. A thin, flexible, lighted tube with a video camera on the end is passed through the rectum and allows the G.I. specialist to inspect the entire colon. If something is seen that needs to be removed or biopsied, the G.I. specialist can do that right then.
A polyp is an abnormal growth in the lining of your colon or rectum. The G.I. specialist may find and remove a polyp during the colonoscopy. Most polyps are not cancer when they are removed; however, a polyp left in the colon could potentially turn into cancer in five to ten years, making screening colonoscopies very crucial.
Colon cancer is the third most common cancer diagnoses in the United States in both men and women. The sooner the cancerous polyp is removed, the earlier you can start treatment. Also, when colon cancer is found in the early stages, the disease is easier to cure. This is another reason why getting regular screening colonoscopies is so critical.
Polyps are not the only thing that can be found during a colonoscopy. The G.I. specialist may find diverticulosis, hemorrhoids, anal fissures, or different types of colitis. Once these conditions are diagnosed, the G.I. specialist can then begin to treat you properly to alleviate any symptoms you may be having.
What You Should Do
If you are over 50 and have yet to have your first colonoscopy, please do not delay any longer in getting this important screening performed. Please contact Dr. Braden at (610) 664-9700 at the G.I. Specialists Bala Cynwyd office in Northeast Philadelphia to set up an appointment today. It just might save your life!
A colonoscopy is an important screening tool our gastroenterologists utilize to determine if you are at risk for colon cancer or to identify sources of rectal pain and bleeding. This procedure involves inserting a small, thin scope with a lighted camera on its end into the rectum to visualize the rectum and colon.
This procedure is often met with many myths and misconceptions. Our Bala Cynwyd, PA colonoscopy specialists have selected the most common to debunk so you can better understand the colonoscopy process.
Myth 1: I Don’t Need a Colonoscopy If I Don’t Have Symptoms
Unfortunately, colon cancer does not often cause symptoms until the cancer is in its advanced stages. A colonoscopy can detect potentially cancerous lesions before they become cancerous. A colonoscopy detects precancerous polyps in 15 percent of women and 25 percent of men older than age 50 on an annual basis, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Myth 2: A Colonoscopy Is Painful
While it’s true that a colonoscopy can be somewhat uncomfortable, every step is taken to reduce this discomfort. This includes conscious sedation throughout the procedure where you are in a state of sleep known as twilight sleep. Many people do not even remember the colonoscopy procedure. Only an estimated 5 percent of patients report some abdominal cramping following the procedure.
Myth 3: Colon Prep Is Horrible/Embarrassing
Prior to undergoing a colonoscopy, you will be asked to drink a special liquid preparation that promotes you to empty your colon of stool. A clean colon allows our Bala Cynwyd gastroenterologist to better visualize your colon. This enables the colonoscopy to be its most effective. Most of our patients report that hardest part of the colonoscopy procedure was drinking so much fluid. Our entire professional staff works to make the colonoscopy process as private and respectful as possible. You should not feel embarrassed about doing something positive for your health.
The American Cancer Society recommends most people have a colonoscopy by age 50 (those with family history or other gastrointestinal-related conditions may need to do so at an earlier age). To schedule your colonoscopy, call our Bala Cynwyd, PA office at (610) 664-9700
1. Over-the-counter medications don’t do the trick
2. Heartburn can cause more severe complications
3. You want to make lifestyle and dietary changes to reduce symptoms
What are 3 Symptoms of Heartburn?
- Burning Feeling – Many people suffering from heartburn will often experience a burning feeling in their chest. This is usually felt behind the breastbone that occurs after eating. It can also last a few minutes to several hours after, which is why it is important to receive treatment for heartburn from our Bala Cynwyd gastroenterological office.
- Chest Pain – After eating, bending over or lying down, you might experience chest pain. This might feel slightly different than the burning feeling, but it is important to identify the problem and take proper measures to eliminate and treat your heartburn when chest pain is involved.
- Difficulty Swallowing – Sometimes, when a person suffers from heartburn they can have difficulty swallowing. It feels almost as if a food is “sticking” in the middle of the chest or throat, causing complications when eating or drinking. It
When to Visit Your Local Gastroenterologist in Bala Cynwyd
What Is Gastroenterology?
When Should I Visit my Gastroenterologist?
- Problems swallowing your food
- Severe heartburn and regurgitation of acid after eating
- Constipation that lasts for multiple days
- Reoccurring diarrhea
- Blood in the stool or leaking from the rectum
- Sudden weight loss
Schedule Your Visit Today
Helping our Bala Cynwyd Residents Understand Colon Cancer
Let’s Take a Look at Colon Cancer
In the early stage of colon cancer you may not experience any symptoms. Some warning signs of colon cancer might include:
- Changes in bowel movement
- Dark patches of blood in or on stool
- Abdominal pain, discomfort or bloating
- Unexplained fatigue
- Unexplained Loss of appetite
- Unexplained Weight loss
- Pelvic pain
How can I Prevent Colon Cancer?
- Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains
- Drinking alcohol in moderation, or cutting it out completely
- Say no to smoking (quit if you currently smoke)
- Exercise frequently
- Maintain a healthy weight
Heartburn Relief from Our Bala Cynwyd Gastroenterologists
G.I. Specialists’ Helps Patients in Bala Cynwyd Understand Colon Cancer
What is Colon Cancer?
- A change in bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation or a change in the consistency of your stool
- Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool
- Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas or pain
- A feeling that your bowel doesn’t empty completely
- Weakness or fatigue
- Unexplained weight loss
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