Achy Stomach and Digestive Issues – When Is It a Problem?

Thursday, July 12, 2012 8:55 AM comments (0)

Digestive-ProblemsDigestive problems—such as cramps, bloating, diarrhea and gas—are common ailments to many Americans. These symptoms can be influenced by the food we eat, the lifestyle we live and our family history of gastrointestinal issues.

Inflammatory bowel disease (including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are both related to symptoms of the bowel.  That is why they are commonly confused with one another.

Eugene Yen, MD, Gastroenterologist at NorthShore and director of the Crohn’s and colitis program, offers his advice on the differences associated with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and IBS:

  • The main difference between the two is that IBS does not involve inflammation of the bowel, and thus is treated differently.
         o    Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis are treated with medications and
               sometimes surgery.
         o    IBS can often be managed with diet and lifestyle changes, and
               sometimes with different medications.
  • Symptoms of both of these conditions can be similar. In addition, many patients with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease have IBS symptoms. In other words, patients who have their IBD under good control can sometimes get abdominal pain and diarrhea in the absence of intestinal inflammation.
  • It is sometimes difficult to distinguish between IBS and IBD, so if you have been experiencing intestinal issues, we recommend seeking the consultation of your physician.

Have you ever experienced any of the symptoms of IBS? What other information do you want to know about the topic?


Managing Your GERD Symptoms

Wednesday, January 18, 2012 8:14 AM comments (1)

It happens to the best of us – we overindulge during the holidays, on a night out or at a family dinner and experience stomach pains, acid reflux and heartburn. It’s estimated that Gastroesophagael Reflux Disease (GERD) regularly affects close to 50 percent of the adult population.

This digestive disorder happens when stomach acid and/or bile flows up into the esophagus leading to acid reflux, heartburn and in severe situations even esophageal cancer.

Mick Meiselman, MD, NorthShore Gastroenterologist and a GERD expert, offers suggestions to reduce GERD symptoms:

  • Maintain a healthy body weight. Simply gaining 10 pounds can aggravate the condition and increase painful symptoms.
  • Limit your consumption of fats, as they can delay emptying of the gastric chamber and increase the likelihood of reflux.
  • Decrease the intake of caffeine, including chocolate, coffee (regular and decaffeinated) and caffeinated tea.
  • Avoid heavy consumption of alcohol.
  • Avoid late-night eating. Wait at least three hours after eating before lying down.
  • Raise the torso (6-8 inches) when sleeping. This can be done with either an adjustable bed or a wedge pillow.
  • Take it easy and relax. Stress magnifies the symptoms of reflux; exercise is a good way to combat stress and help maintain a healthy weight.

Which of these recommendations works best for you? Which of these recommendations is the hardest to follow?

If you think you may be at risk for GERD, take our GERD Risk Assessment.

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