Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Diverticular Disease. Small, finger-like sacs or pouches may protrude off the colon’s inner lining, where the blood vessels enter the colon, piercing its walls and causing areas of weakness. Unlike polyps, which are new growths within the colon lining, these pouches, known as diverticula, are actually part of the colon.
Although the condition is most common after age 50, younger people occasionally develop diverticula. Often they cause no symptoms and the individual is unaware he or she has them. When the diverticula become inflamed or infected, the condition is called diverticulitis. The symptoms of diverticulitis are much more intense than those of IBS and include severe left lower abdominal pain, chills, fever, and an elevated white blood cell count.
When diverticula become severely inflamed, the colon can become obstructed. Even worse, its wall can be perforated, resulting in peritonitis, a potentially dangerous inflammation of the membrane lining of the abdominal cavity. The diagnosis of diverticulitis is made after a number of tests, usually including a CT scan.
Treatment of diverticulitis involves a liquid diet to let the bowel rest and antibiotic therapy to clear the infection. After the immediate infection has stabilized, patients switch to a steady high-fiber diet, to help prevent flare-ups, and are advised to avoid nuts and seeds. Surgery may be required for complicated or recurrent diverticulitis.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). Inflammatory bowel disease has a wide variety of symptoms, including persistent abdominal pain, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, fever, and weight loss. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, two conditions that together are referred to as inflammatory bowel disease, often have similar symptoms and are treated in similar ways, yet physicians regard them as distinct.
Some people experience periods of fairly good health interrupted by flare-ups. Others have continuous symptoms marked by serious inflammation, intestinal bleeding, and abdominal pain. The most serious consequence of IBD is colon cancer. The risk for colon cancer is much higher for patients with IBD than for the general population.
Crohn’s disease can occur anywhere in the gastrointestinal tract, from the mouth to the anus, but it’s usually found at the end of the small intestine (ileum), in the colon, or both. It involves the full thickness of the bowel wall and may burrow into nearby organs. The bowel wall becomes thickened as well as constantly inflamed, and leakage of intestinal contents from the bowel can cause internal abscesses. A leak (fistula) that allows intestinal material to pass into the abdomen may require surgery. Severe bleeding is not a hallmark of this disease.
Crohn’s disease usually appears in young people, who develop pain in the right side of the abdomen, a low-grade fever, and perhaps changes in bowel movements. Some patients develop an abscess or fistula around the anus.
In some cases, surgery is needed to treat a complication of the disease, such as bowel obstruction. About 40%–60% of those with Crohn’s eventually need surgery to remove damaged areas of their small intestine or colon.
Ulcerative colitis is characterized by inflammation of the lining, or mucosa, of the colon. Like IBS, it can cause lower abdominal pain and diarrhea. Unlike IBS, the stool generally contains blood, and bowel symptoms may be accompanied by fever, weight loss, an elevated white blood cell count, and the same non-gut manifestations as Crohn’s disease. Ulcerative colitis is easier to diagnose than Crohn’s disease and is treated with many of the same medications; it can even be cured because it affects only the colon, which can be surgically removed.
Surgery is too drastic a treatment in most cases, but about 25% of patients eventually have surgery to remove their colons.
While drugs cannot cure IBD, they are effective in reducing inflammation and accompanying symptoms in about 80% of patients. The drugs used most commonly are aminosalicylates (cousins of aspirin), steroids (potent anti-inflammatory agents), immunosuppressants like azathioprine (Imuran), and antibiotics. Another drug, infliximab (Remicade), has proved effective for patients with Crohn’s disease.
For the rest of this article, click here.
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Options for immediate symptom relief:
* Over the counter medications
* A couple tablespoons of aloe vera juice
* One tablespoon distilled white vinegar
* Eat a carrot, potato, or an apple
* Peppermint tea or candy
* Club soda or baking soda mixed in water
* Eat smaller meals
* Loosen pants or belt to relieve pressure on the stomach
* Avoid foods that are known triggers
* Don’t bend over too soon after eating
* Remain upright and don’t lie down immediately after a meal
Long-term relief of heartburn:
* Stop smoking-it increases stomach acid production
* Reduce weight-to relieve pressure on the stomach
The types of foods most likely to trigger heartburn include fatty fried foods, alcoholic beverages, caffeine, spicy foods, and chocolate. Keeping a journal of what you eat and when heartburn strikes will help to identify personal triggers. Stress can cause heartburn because the hormones that are released trigger acid production.
Untreated heartburn can damage the esophagus, causing burns and sores.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Peppermint tea is one type of tea that can be used to help decrease IBS symptoms. This tea is widely available at grocery stores and it can help calm the digestive muscles. Peppermint tea can help relieve muscle spasms that occur in the stomach and colon or any other part of the body. Peppermint is also used to help kill pain so it will help with any stomach pain that you are suffering from.
Fennel tea is another helpful tea for IBS. Fennel is an herbal treatment that is used for digestive problems. This licorice-flavored tea is a favorite of many people as an alternative IBS treatment. The herb has anti-spasmodic properties and it helps to relax the lower digestive tract. Fennel tea does not have caffeine either, which keeps it from being a trigger for IBS symptoms for people who are sensitive to caffeine.
For the rest of this article, click here.
General rules for avoiding diarrhea caused by bacterial infections include washing all fruits and vegetables well and making sure they’re ripe when you eat them. Rinse chicken before you cook it, and cook chicken and other meats thoroughly. Clean all food preparation areas such as countertops and cutting boards with soap and warm water. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling food.
Be careful about eating foods left outside for long periods of time — at barbecues or picnics, for example. Bacteria can grow easily in the warm air. And don’t take leftovers home from these events. Even inside, leftovers should be refrigerated quickly after the meal has been served.
From the Harvard Health Publications Special Health Report, The Sensitive Gut. Copyright 2005 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Illustrations by Michael Linkinhoker and Harriet Greenfield, M.A. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Fact: Too many heartburn sufferers believe that they are to blame for this painful malady. While it is true that certain lifestyle habits and the foods and beverages you eat and drink may aggravate your heartburn symptoms, many people make significant lifestyle changes to prevent heartburn and still experience heartburn. Heartburn is a medical condition with real biological causes, and heartburn sufferers need not compound their discomfort with shame and guilt.
Myth: Heartburn is a fact of life that I can't control.
Fact: People with heartburn don't need to suffer in silence. Changes in diet and lifestyle as well as a fast-growing range of over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications can provide relief for most sufferers. Surgery or newer non-surgical techniques may be appropriate treatment options for some.
Myth: Heartburn is just a minor, trivial complaint.
Fact: Heartburn is common, but it is not trivial. In fact, frequent heartburn can severely impact the productivity, daily activities and quality of life of those who experience it. In addition, persistent heartburn could be a symptom of a more serious condition called GERD which, if left untreated, can cause or contribute to a wide range of problems such as ulcers of the esophagus, asthma, chronic cough, and in rare cases, cancer of the esophagus. These complications may be avoided with proper monitoring from a physician.
Myth: After-dinner mints offer a soothing way to drift off to sleep.
Fact: Mints on the pillow are generally not a good way to ensure a peaceful night for heartburn sufferers. In fact, bedtime mints combine three common heartburn triggers—chocolate, mint and lying down—making them more likely to inspire heartburn than pleasant dreams for some sufferers.
Myth: Antacids aren't real medicine.
Fact: Many people believe that since antacids are sold without a prescription (OTC) that they are not real medicine. In fact, they are medicine, and you should be sure to read and follow the package directions carefully before using them or any drugs. If used in moderation and occasionally, antacids are generally safe. However, frequent use of certain antacids can cause diarrhea or constipation. Also, since some antacids cause interactions when used with other medications, be sure to let your health care professionals know that you are taking antacids if they are recommending other medications.
Myth: I have to live with my heartburn.
Fact: Many people don't believe that heartburn can actually be prevented, but some of the newer OTC medications can actually prevent heartburn as well as provide complete symptom relief. H2 blockers reduce acid for up to 12 hours. Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), more effectively inhibit acid production — and effectively treat heartburn symptoms for 24 hours with one daily pill.
Myth: If I take a drug to suppress acid, I won't be able to digest my food.
Fact: Our bodies produce acid that helps break down food in the stomach and kills harmful bacteria. Acid works together with other substances in the stomach called enzymes to break down food. Even OTC proton pump inhibitors, which work directly on active acid pumps to significantly inhibit acid production, allow enough acid to be produced so that normal digestion of food occurs.
For more articles like this one, and all kinds of general heartburn info, click here.
The lining of the stomach is a layer of special cells, chemicals and mucous that prevent the stomach from being damaged by its own acids and digestive enzymes. If there is a break or ulcer in the lining, the tissue under the lining can be damaged by the enzymes and corrosive acid. If the ulcer is small, there may be few symptoms, and the wound can heal on its own. If the ulcer is deep, it can cause serious pain or bleeding, and may eat completely through the stomach or duodenum wall.
Peptic ulcers are relatively common, affecting approximately 500,000 people in the United States each year. It has been estimated that about 10% of Americans will develop an ulcer at some time in their lives. Ulcers can develop in anyone at any age, but they become more common as people age. Duodenal ulcers tend to occur at an earlier age than gastric ulcers. While ulcers used to be more common in men, recent studies show that ulcers now occur at the same rate in men and women.
It's still unclear what causes ulcers, current research suggests that the bacterium Helicobacter pylori plays a major role. In fact, this bacterium is believed to cause between 70% and 90% of all peptic ulcers. But infection is not the whole story, because only about 20% of people infected with H. pylori develop ulcers. In some people, H. pylori infection somehow upsets the delicate balance between the damaging effects of gastric acids and the body's natural protection. When the lining is no longer able to protect the stomach or intestine, an ulcer develops (see How an Ulcer Starts ).
The second most common cause of ulcers is the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin and others) and naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn). These drugs interfere with the body's methods of protecting the stomach lining from the harmful effects of acid. Ulcers caused by NSAIDs are particularly common in the elderly. Ulcers also can be caused by other drugs, such as those used to treat osteoporosis.
Several other factors can increase your risk of developing a peptic ulcer. Both gastric and duodenal ulcers seem to run in families. Cigarettes appear to interfere with the body's natural protection against ulcers, particularly in people who are infected with H. pylori. Alcohol may increase the production of acid and damage the lining of the stomach. However, contrary to popular belief, stress and spicy foods do not seem to increase the risk of ulcers.
For the symptoms, click here.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
In contrast to general consensus, suggesting first day superiority of H2RAs, the results show similar acid suppression on the first day of dosing between these drugs as reported today in Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics.
Researchers also report evidence that with daily use, the body develops a rapid onset of tolerance to even a low dose H2RAs such as Pepcid AC®.
The findings may help physicians and consumers make better choices about which therapy to use when treating heartburn, which is caused by stomach acid flowing up into the esophagus, a condition that affects more than 50 million Americans annually.
For the complete article, click here.
Seattle, WA (PRWeb) January 9, 2007 -- Heather's Tummy Care announces the wide release of their delicious new educational DVD, "Heather Cooks!" The first and only Irritable Bowel Syndrome cooking show originally aired on Seattle television is now available for distribution to major retailers. Heather Cooks! follows best-selling cookbook author Heather Van Vorous through the entertaining and educational preparation of favorite meals made digestion-friendly.
With a focus on fast-and easy recipes, shows range from traditional breakfasts to gourmet dinners to party snacks and more. Eight recipes are clearly explained and demonstrated in five separate episodes, with a total running time of 110 minutes. Each meal is low fat, high in soluble fiber, careful with insoluble fiber, and avoids all red meat, dairy, and other IBS triggers.
For more of this article, and to learn where you can buy the DVD, click here.
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
Despite link to hip fractures, 'what's the other choice?'
By Chris Emery
Originally published January 8, 2007
When a recent study found that a popular class of heartburn drugs might weaken bones, Dorothea E. Kilner was alarmed, but not just because her medication could contribute to a hip fracture.
For Kilner and the millions of Americans who suffer from chronic heartburn, the greater threat may be losing access to prescription drugs such as Prevacid, Prilosec, Protonix and Nexium. They're far more effective than earlier generations of heartburn medication, according to doctors and to patients who rely on them for relief.
"The real question is, what's the other choice?" said Dr. David B. Posner, chief of gastroenterology at
Kilner has already made up her mind. "I'm going to continue taking my Nexium because it works for me," said the 72- year-old Timonium resident. "The quality of life has improved for me by taking it."
Posner said the benefits of these drugs, known as proton pump inhibitors, or PPIs, outweigh the risks. While the study results announced Dec. 27 suggested that older people who take the drugs might want to take extra precautions to prevent bone loss, the link between hip fractures and the drugs is inconclusive, he said.
For 20 years, Carol Epstein passed up coffee, salads, dairy and wheat because she feared the consequences.
"Stomach cramps and you might have diarrhea with it," she said.
It didn't keep carol home, but irritable bowel syndrome followed her on vacations to Egypt, Cambodia, India. Nothing helped, not even a restrictive diet. Then she met Dr. Mark Pimentel.
A breath test found an overgrowth of bacteria in Carol's stomach. Working on the theory that bacteria may cause IBS, Dr. Pimentel tested the antibiotic rifaximin on 87 patients. Nearly 40 percent saw major improvement.
"If you take the antibiotic for 10 days, patients got better, and they got better for 10 weeks after the antibiotic was stopped," he said.
Unlike other antibiotics, rifaximin is not absorbed into the bloodstream. It stays in the intestine, killing bacteria before passing through the digestive tract.
"Just to have the feeling that I'm going to eat something and not going to have cramps or run to the bathroom or have this trapped gas is a wonderful feeling," said Carol.
Carol's been pain-free for a year and a half.
Patients take the antibiotic for just 10 days, but the effects seem to last up to a year. A longer study is needed to verify the results.
The drug is FDA approved to treat traveler's diarrhea and is available by prescription under the brand name Xifaxan.
Monday, January 08, 2007
Heartburn and Coffee: Break the Connection
Doctors have always detected a connection between heartburn and coffee. It has almost become a part of common wisdom that coffee, wonderful drink that it is, is one of the main causes behind heartburn. One out of five coffee drinkers in the US suffers from heartburn. They have been advised by their doctor to cut their caffeine intake. It's a deplorable situation where they love their coffee, but are not loved in return.
So are you doomed to a caffeine-less existence for the rest of your days? Are heartburn and coffee so eternally linked together that there is no hope at all for coffee aficionados? Must they necessarily suffer heartburn or give up the drink they hold so close to their hearts?
The good news is, heartburn and coffee need not be as irrevocably bound together as much today as they once were. There is now a process for making coffee harmless in this respect. The last major innovation in coffee processing technology was in the 1930-s, when decaf or decaffeinated coffee was invented. And now, for the first time since then, there is a new technology for making coffee that does not cause heartburn.
What links heartburn and coffee? The contents of the human stomach are naturally acidic, so that is normal. You don't really feel that acidity as long as things are in control. And that acidity is actually necessary for the proper digestion of food. It is when that acidity grows to abnormal levels and rises from the stomach into the food pipe, that you experience heartburn.
There are many substances that may cause this excess of acidity by irritating the stomach. And among the many kinds of stomach irritants, caffeine is one of the most potent. It stimulates the stomach into producing more acid than normal. This is what connects heartburn and coffee. And this is why doctors advise against coffee for chronic patients of acid indigestion.
Now, there are new techniques for making coffee less irritating for the stomach. As a result, the connection between heartburn and coffee is not necessary any more. The Hevla technology, for example, employs a patented process that involves a high pressure steaming of the beans. Removing the irritating substances from coffee has not really been the challenge all this time. Rather, it has been removing them while retaining the taste and the flavor – things that make coffee interesting.
This is exactly what the new techniques have achieved. The best Arabica beans are chosen for Hevla-processed coffee, and the roasting goes on as usual. Roasting creates the flavour, but unfortunately also gives rise to the substances that connect heartburn and coffee. The Hevla high pressure steaming method is able to remove these substances without compromising on the taste and flavor.
So if you are one of those people who are thinking of giving up on coffee because of heartburn, despair no more. The link between heartburn and coffee has been broken. Go ahead and try the new product, and savor your favorite drink without suffering for it.
Here's where you can buy it: www.thelowacidcoffee.com
Randy has more articles on coffee and coffee beans at Coffee Information such as Are Coffee Colonics for real?.
By Miranda Hitti
Oct. 26, 2006 -- Scientists have spotted what they suspect is the first of several genes tied to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
The gene is called IL23R. It's noted by Yale University's Judy Cho, MD, and colleagues in Science's early online edition.
Inflammatory bowel disease includes Crohn's diseaseCrohn's disease and ulcerative colitisulcerative colitis. Its exact cause is unknown.
About a million people in the U.S. have IBD, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
The gene discovery is "not a gene test" for IBD, and it's "not going to be an immediate panacea" for people with IBD, Cho tells WebMD. "But we have a lot better information, and the power of information, I think, is going to hopefully make a difference."
For instance, the gene findings may eventually lead to new drugs to treat IBD.
"It basically says, 'OK, let's put this at the top of the list of things that we should really work on,'" Cho says.
For the rest of this article, click here.
The drugs are Aciphex, Nexium, Prevacid, Prilosec (called Losec in Europe), and Protonix. The drugs shut down the chemical "pump" needed by stomach cells to make acid. They are very effective for treating(gastrointestinal reflux disease).
That makes the acid-fighting drugs very popular. Together they rang up nearly $13 billion in U.S. sales in 2005 -- a year in which American doctors wrote more than 95 million prescriptions for the drugs. Prilosec is now available over the counter.
Now a new study shows that when taken long term the drugs may have a side effect: hip fracture. People over age 50 who take the drugs for more than one year have a 44% increased risk of breaking a hip, find University of Pennsylvania researchers Yu-Xiao Yang, MD, and colleagues.
Taking proton-pump inhibitors at higher doses -- and for longer periods -- dramatically increases the risk. Long-term, high-dose use of the drugs ups the risk of hip fracture by 245%.
"Proton-pump inhibitor therapy is associated with a significantly higher risk of hip fractures, with the highest risk seen among those receiving high-dose proton-pump-inhibitor therapy," Yang and colleagues conclude.
The findings appear in the Dec. 27 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association.
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Overall, the use of drugs that reduce stomach acid, such as H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors, do not increase the risk of cancer of the esophagus or stomach, according to a study reported in the journal Gut.
Common H2 blockers are ranitidine (Zantac) and cimetidine (Tagamet); and a common proton pump inhibitor is omeprazole (Prilosec).
"There have been concerns regarding the safety of long-time gastric acid suppression," senior investigator Dr. Mats Lindblad told Reuters Health. "I think our large study clearly suggests that long-time gastric acid suppression does not increase the risk" of cancer of the esophagus or stomach.
Lindblad and colleagues at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm evaluated 7 years of patient data entered into the UK general practice database. The team identified 287 patients with esophageal cancer and 522 with stomach cancer. These subjects were compared with 10,000 randomly selected subjects without cancer.
The authors found some conditions for which acid-suppressing drugs are used, such as acid reflux disease, hiatal hernia and Barrett's esophagus, were associated with an increased risk of stomach and esophagus cancer. However, no apparent cancer risk was seen with other conditions, including peptic ulcer, gastritis, and indigestion. They found no evidence that the drugs themselves increased the risk.
These findings are in line with those of previous studies, continued Lindblad. The new information is that the cancer risk is probably due to underlying conditions, rather than an independent, harmful effect of these drugs.
In an interview with Reuters Health, Dr. Kenneth E.L. McColl, author of an accompanying editorial, agreed that the findings are consistent with such a conclusion.
However, McColl of the Western Infirmary, Glasgow, UK added that "a major weakness in the study is the relatively short duration of acid suppressive therapy examined. The development of cancer in humans is a slow process."
The period in question "is really too short to identify or exclude any direct effect between acid suppressive medication and" stomach or esophageal cancers.
SOURCE: Gut, November 2006.
© Reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.
Sunday, January 07, 2007
Look for the warning signs! Part II
Warning signs of poor digestion:
Frequently cold for no reason
Frequently feel stressed, worn out, or depressed for no reason
Need to loosen you belt after eating, even without overeating
Frequent burping, passing gas, and/or bloated abdomen
Pulse increases over 20 to 25 beats within 15 mintues after eating
Chronically coated tongue
Signs of optimal digestion:
Extremities are usually warm and have healthy pink coloring
Energy is level throughout the day
Do not have extreme food cravings
Do not have sudden and frequent bouts of shakiness, anxiety, depression, or anger for no reason
Feel better after excersizing
Do not have frequent mood swings
Saturday, January 06, 2007
Look for the warning signs! Part I
Warning signs of poor digestion:
Poor bowel habits (do not defecate daily)
Frequently see undigested food in stools
Stools frequently smell foul
Feel better if don't eat
Chronic indigestion after eating
Often don't sleep well, and wake up tired
Signs of optimal digestion:
Eliminate at least once a day
Do not see undigested food in stools
Stools do not smell bad
Feel good after eating, and several hours afterward
Sleep well and wake up rested
Tune in tomorrow for "Look for the warning signs Part II" where we'll give more signals your digestive system uses to tell you how you're eating.