Iron is an essential component of hemoglobin, the substance contained in red blood cells that transports oxygen from the lungs to all of our organs. Yet, according to the World Health Organization, up to 80% of the world’s population is iron deficient. There are a host of reasons why one might be iron deficient, including an insufficient diet, pregnancy, blood loss, cancer, heavy menstrual cycles and kidney failure. However, the outcome is always the same – a lack of iron halts the production of oxygen-carrying red blood cells and can negatively affect our health.

Luckily, hemodialysis centers and certain hospitals offer what is known as iron infusion – a process by which a fluid solution containing iron is administered intravenously. Iron infusions are highly effective for increasing the levels of iron in the blood and can even cure anemia. Plus, it presents an alternative for those who need a rapid replenishment in these mineral levels, have experienced excessive blood loss, or aren’t properly absorbing iron. Additionally, some people prefer not to take iron supplements. Your physician will let you know if you’re a candidate for this mode of iron supplementation. If you doctor agrees, then how would you prepare for an iron infusion?

  • Block off Time. The whole process will take up to four hours, as introducing the mineral slowly is shown to have less adverse reactions in patients.
  • For anyone who gets anxious over any sort of medical procedure, the best advice is to relax and focus on making this a comfortable experience.  The process itself is similar to having any other IV, in that a needle is utilized to insert a catheter (tiny tube) into the patient’s arm or hand. Expect a small pinch and a bit of pressure, but the rest of the procedure is pretty painless.
  • Eat a healthy breakfast. Unlike when having blood drawn, there is no need to fast, and regulating your blood sugar is always a good thing.
  • Don’t forget your medication if you are prescribed, unless your doctors advises otherwise.
  • Keep your mind occupied. It always helps to bring something to keep your mind relaxed. So don’t forget your tablet to stream your favorite shows, your iPod to listen to music, or catch up on your reading.
  • Dress for the success, which in this case means loose-fitting clothing with sleeves that roll up easily. You’ll want to be as comfortable as possible, as you’ll be sitting down for several hours.
  • Test Dose. Discuss the procedure with your doctor ahead of the day. To ensure your safety, the medical professional will often perform a “test dose” to be sure you don’t have any allergic reactions to the drip.

In many cases, iron infusions aren’t a one-time “quick fix.” It may take several infusions to raise your iron levels to the appropriate amounts.  If you’re supplementing with iron pills – and making sure your menu is jam-packed with iron-rich foods such as tuna, eggs and beef, but are still deficient, it may be time to consider a different solution. In addition to treating disorders of the esophagus, stomach and small and large intestines, the board-certified and fellowship-trained specialists at US Digestive Health offer in-house iron infusions. For more information, call 717-245-2228.

 

Have you been scheduled for a colonoscopy? Preparing for the procedure is going to be a process in itself, so pay close attention to what you need to do and get ready for the big day. While this may seem like a time-consuming procedure, keep in mind that while inconvenient, a colonoscopy is vital for your continued good health. This is the best way for a doctor to take a close look at part of your digestive system that sees a lot of action every day, and is often ignored when consulting a physician. Let’s skip the pleasantries and go straight to the preparation process.

You may be asking yourself, “Why go through this drawn-out exhaustive process to clear my colon?” In order for your doctor to properly examine your colon, it must be completely empty and clean. This means a liquid diet before the examination day and using strong laxatives hours before the procedure. The better you prepare for your procedure, the less likely you’ll be doing this again for another decade.

Before

For the days leading up to the procedure, you’ll want to be very mindful of what you’re eating. Don’t eat anything fibrous or fatty, like heavy meats or greens. Focus on carbs like pasta, and lean proteins like chicken or fish. The day before your procedure, you should be focusing on mostly clear liquids – soups and sports drinks – avoiding milk and murky liquids, like coffee.

Go shopping and get the necessary supplies recommended by your doctor. This means the prescribed laxatives, liquids for an entire day’s worth of consumption, lean foods that are low in fiber, and wet wipes for your bathroom trips. The night before the exam, you will be taking your laxatives. Clear your schedule and just accept that it will be a long night in and out of the bathroom.

After

You’ll want a friend or family member to drive you home, because you are forbidden from driving or operating any machinery for an entire 24 hours after your colonoscopy. Much like any surgical procedure, you must fully recover from sedation before any driving or serious decisions are made.

As far as your diet goes, you can start eating fibrous foods again right away. You’ll want to drink plenty of liquids – avoiding alcohol for a bit. Be sure to take any medications your doctor may have prescribed. For the most part, you will just want to rest and avoid any intensive exercise or activity, after all, you’ve had a long 48 hours.

For more information about what to do before and after a colonoscopy, and whether or not it’s time for you to schedule yours, call US Digestive Health at (717) 245-2228.

 

 

 

Fatty liver disease is an accumulation of fat cells in the liver that is not caused by alcohol consumption. It is commonly called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) to distinguish it from the diseases where alcohol plays a part.

If more than 10 percent of total cells in the liver are fat cells, it is called steatosis, or fatty liver. Many people have fatty liver disease without noticeable symptoms, but it can be dangerous if allowed to progress.

Steatosis can lead to swelling and cell damage, and this progression is called non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). The liver will continue to function for people who have NASH, but it can lead to permanent scarring and cirrhosis if not addressed by lifestyle changes.

Symptoms of Fatty Liver Disease

Fatty liver disease is often called “silent liver disease” due to its lack of symptoms. It is also the most common liver issue: 25 percent of adults and 10 percent of children in America have it.

 

The greatest risk factor for developing fatty liver disease is being overweight or obese. There is also a high incidence of the disease among those who have type 2 diabetes.

Because obesity and type 2 diabetes are associated with many health problems with more noticeable symptoms, fatty liver disease is often not suspected until it progresses to a serious condition.

Symptoms can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Weight loss
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain and swelling
  • Yellowish skin or eyes (jaundice)
  • Swollen feet and legs (edema) from fluid buildup

Diagnosing Fatty Liver Disease

Diagnosis can be done using several methods, including the following:

Blood Test

If a doctor is evaluating a blood sample and sees an unusually high number of liver enzymes, the physician will consider whether it is fatty liver disease. This is checked during most routine blood work at an annual physical.

Ultrasound

An ultrasound scan of the liver may be used to determine whether there is any inflammation indicating a liver disorder. However, ultrasound alone cannot determine whether the patient has NAFLD or if it has progressed to NASH.

Biopsy

Diagnosis of fatty liver disease depends on the results of a liver biopsy. During the biopsy, the doctor will insert a long needle into the liver and obtain a small sample of tissue. The tissue sample reveals whether the liver cells are inflamed or damaged.

If there is inflammation along with high fat content, the patient has non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. High fat content alone indicates fatty liver disease, and significant scarring indicates the development of cirrhosis of the liver.

Treatment and Prevention

The same recommendations for general weight loss apply for reducing or halting fatty buildup in the liver. Lowering cholesterol levels, maintaining a healthy diet and a regular exercise routine, and avoiding alcohol can all help.

For most people, fatty liver disease does not progress to NASH or cirrhosis. The growing incidence of the disease is probably related to the increasing percentage of people who are overweight and obese. Efforts to stay fit and live a healthy life have the added benefit of promoting a healthy and well-functioning liver.

Gastroenterology Clinic in Central PA

US Digestive Health offers comprehensive care for GI and liver disorders. Our board-certified gastroenterologists have served Central Pennsylvania for almost three decades.

For preventive screenings or treatment for liver issues or gastrointestinal problems, call your US Digestive Health office today to schedule an appointment at (717) 245-2228 or fill out our appointment request form. We look forward to serving you and helping you get on the road to a healthy lifestyle.

 

This might be the best news you have heard in some time:  drinking coffee isn’t dangerous to your liver. In fact, there is some evidence that coffee actually is good for your liver, and drinking it could even reverse liver damage, but first, what is liver disease, and what exactly is the correlation between the liver and America’s favorite morning pick-me-up?

Liver Disease

Liver disease – cirrhosis – is a devastating complication of liver disease and is a leading cause of death in the United States. Unfortunately, more than 30,000 people die from the disease each year. The primary cause of the disease is excessive alcohol consumption. Viral hepatitis B or C also is a common cause, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is a factor that also leads to cirrhosis. Avoiding excessive alcohol consumption wards against liver disease, as does avoiding fatty foods that will contribute to fatty liver disease and guard against obesity, which is also a factor.

Symptoms

Symptoms of the disease may show up slowly as there are few during the early stages of cirrhosis. With time, however, a person with liver disease will experience extreme weakness and fatigue and a loss of appetite will occur. The affected person may also notice a loss in their sex drive. Worsening conditions like yellowing skin and the white parts of the eyes become jaundice. Bleeding and bruising is more prevalent and occurs more easily and are the symptoms we often think of most as associated with the disease. Symptoms also include:

  • Tarry stools
  • Edema in the legs and stomach
  • Irritated itchy skin
  • Vomiting blood

Good News for Coffee Drinkers

With such terrible symptoms, it’s hard to imagine that a simple drink that is consumed daily can possibly project a positive outcome for people suffering with liver disease, but research has shown that there is a correlation between coffee and liver disease.

A Netherlands research team conducted a study regarding preventative factors against liver disease. Dr. Sarwa Darwish Murad, a Ph.D. specializing in hepatology led the team of scientists, which was interested in determining if consuming coffee had any impact on the liver’s health. The Rotterdam study involved 2,424 participants who were all 45 years of age and older. Each participant was given a full physical exam. With participants undergoing blood tests, abdominal scans that examined the liver and special measurements were taken, like body, mass index, the doctors left no stone unturned. Scarring of the liver causes stiffness and is prevalent with liver disease. The primary objective of the abdominal scans was to determine the degree of stiffness in the liver. Without treatment, scarring is what eventually leads to cirrhosis.

Once measurements were taken and examinations were complete, the participants were divided into three categories based on their coffee (and/or tea) consumption:  no consumption, moderate consumption (three cups per day) and frequent consumption (three or more cups per day).

Frequent coffee consumption (and the consumption of herbal tea) was linked to a lower level of liver stiffness, the study revealed. This was true for participants whose livers were fatty and those without fatty livers. The doctors determined that this could be an indication that drinking coffee frequently could possibly prevent fibrosis of the liver. This could even occur before signs and symptoms of the disease appear.

This is but one study and doctors insist that more studies are required to understand the correlation between coffee consumption and its positive effect on liver disease.

Remember, there is no cure for the scarred liver that is damaged by cirrhosis. It will usually and eventually lead to the liver totally shutting down. However, this occurs over time and with attention and proper treatment, the progression of the disease can be slowed down.

In the meantime, Carlisle Digestive Disease Associates treats liver disease and we encourage you not to delay in finding a diagnosis for any of the symptoms listed above that could be related to liver disease. Early detection is crucial in preventing further progression of the disease.

The friendly staff at US Digestive Health welcomes your call and looks forward to serving you. We proudly serve the areas of Carlisle, Boiling Springs, Newville, Mechanicsburg, Camp Hill, Shippensburg, Chambersburg, and central Pennsylvania.

If you have any questions about our Gastroenterology services or your treatment, or to schedule an appointment, please call our office at (717) 245-2228 or use our secure online appointment request form.

 

 

 

 

Your gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped, sac-like organ in your abdomen under your liver. Its main purpose is to store bile from the liver and deliver it to the small intestine, helping to properly digest fats that have been consumed.

Bile contains acids which are critical for the absorption of fats and fat-soluble vitamins. When you eat high-fat or high-cholesterol foods, your gallbladder contracts and sends bile into your duodenum (the first part of your small intestine) via the common bile duct.

In a healthy gallbladder, this process happens naturally and painlessly; but if a blockage occurs or it stops functioning correctly, it can cause significant pain and discomfort. Gallbladder diseases are caused by conditions that slow or block the flow of bile from the gallbladder, such as inflammation or gallstones.

Let’s take a look at the various types of gallbladder diseases:

Gallstones

Gallstones are solid particles of digestive fluid, often made up of cholesterol, that result from an imbalance of bile components. In many cases, gallstones do not produce symptoms and do not require treatment; but if a gallstone becomes trapped in an opening inside the gallbladder, it can cause a strong, sudden pain in your right upper abdomen.

The pain usually begins about 30 minutes after eating a high-fat meal. The pain may even spread to your shoulder and back, and it can feel worse at night. Other symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, fever, and indigestion.

Cholelithiasis refers to the presence of gallstones in the gallbladder, and choledocholithiasis refers to gallstones in the common bile duct.

Porcelain Gallbladder

Porcelain gallbladder is a condition where the muscular walls of the gallbladder develop a buildup of calcium. It is associated with chronic gallbladder inflammation and can often be triggered by an excess of gallstones. The name porcelain gallbladder refers to the bluish discoloration and brittle consistency of the gallbladder wall in this condition.

Cholecystitis

Cholecystitis is inflammation of the gallbladder that most commonly occurs when there is an obstruction between the gallbladder and the common bile duct. The condition is usually caused by gallstones, but other less common causes of blockages include severe illness, tumors, and alcohol abuse.

The blockage creates a buildup of bile in the gallbladder which can cause inflammation, irritation, and pressure. It can then lead to bacterial infections and a perforated gallbladder (tearing of the gallbladder), which can allow a severe, widespread infection to spread into other parts of the body.

Cholecystitis can be acute or chronic:

Acute cholecystitis occurs suddenly and can lead to complications, such as gangrene caused by inadequate blood flow and abscesses where the gallbladder becomes inflamed with pus.

Chronic cholecystitis is caused by repeated episodes of acute cholecystitis. Chronic cholecystitis causes the gallbladder walls to thicken and the gallbladder to decrease in size. Eventually, the gallbladder loses its ability to function completely.

Acalculous Gallbladder Disease

Acalculous gallbladder disease is inflammation of the gallbladder without the presence of gallstones. A significant physical trauma, chronic illness, or serious medical condition (such as lupus) have been shown to trigger an episode. Symptoms are similar to acute cholecystitis with gallstones.

Sclerosing Cholangitis

Sclerosing cholangitis is scarring to the bile duct system caused by ongoing inflammation and damage. The exact cause of the disease is still unknown, but many people with the condition also have ulcerative colitis (a condition causing inflammation of the colon and rectum). Symptoms can include a fever, jaundice, itching, and upper abdominal pain, but a lot of people with the condition don’t have symptoms.

Biliary Dyskinesia

Biliary dyskinesia occurs when the gallbladder doesn’t function normally. It may be a result of ongoing gallbladder inflammation.

Eating a fatty meal may trigger symptoms, which can include upper abdominal pain, nausea, bloating, and indigestion. Gallstones are not usually present with biliary dyskinesia.

Gallbladder Polyps

Gallbladder polyps are growths that occur in the gallbladder. The polyps often have no symptoms and aren’t usually harmful; but if they grow to be too large, removal is recommended as they have a greater chance of becoming cancerous.

Gallbladder Cancer

Cancer of the gallbladder is relatively rare, and there are different types of gallbladder cancers. Gallbladder cancer can spread from the inner walls to the outer layer of the gallbladder and then on to the liver, lymph nodes, and other organs.

The symptoms can be similar to those of acute cholecystitis, but sometimes there are no symptoms at all. Cancer of the gallbladder can be difficult to treat because diagnosis can come too late in to the disease’s progression.

Risk factors can include gallstones, porcelain gallbladder, obesity, and advanced age. It is more common in women than in men.

Treatment for Gallbladder Diseases

The treatment you receive depends on the degree of your gallbladder disease, severity of gallstones, or symptoms. Many people with gallstones do not have symptoms and do not need treatment, and some cases of cholecystitis can improve with medication such as antibiotics.

However, when symptoms persist, your doctor may recommend diagnostic testing such as an abdominal CT scan or an ultrasound. These are considered to be excellent methods for identifying gallbladder issues.

If surgery is required, a laparoscopic cholecystectomy may be the solution to remove the gallbladder and the gallstones.  A laparoscopic cholecystectomy is a quick procedure which uses a laparoscope (a thin tube with a small lighted camera at the end) to guide the surgery, and it involves very small incisions – which shortens the recovery time.

Experienced Gastroenterologists in Carlisle, PA

If you are experiencing any unusual abdominal or digestive symptoms and would like expert advice and treatment, contact our team at US Digestive Health today at (717) 245-2228 to schedule an appointment or use the online appointment request form.

You don’t have to live with unpleasant, uncomfortable symptoms – get back to a happy, healthier you by calling us today!

 

 

 

Gastrointestinal disorders are among some of the most commonly diagnosed medical conditions, yet some people hesitate to discuss them with a doctor, especially those ones that affect bathroom habits. However, GI conditions aren’t limited to the bowel. They comprise a variety of issues, from heartburn to hepatitis C. These disorders can range in severity from acute, mildly annoying, to chronic, debilitating and potentially life-threatening. In other words, they’re well worth talking with your doctor about.

People with GI symptoms who are reluctant to speak to a doctor should remember that most people experience GI issues at some point in their lives and it’s not smart or necessary to suffer in silence. There are effective treatments, and with the help of your doctor, it’s possible to eliminate or effectively manage the symptoms caused by most common GI disorders. And if you think that GI problems are a personal or private issue, understand that a GI doctor is an expert in this sensitive subject.

When it comes to gastrointestinal (GI) conditions, symptoms can be as mild as a nagging stomach ache, or as serious as a sharp pain that lasts all day. But how do you know if your symptoms are serious?

Any symptom that lasts more than a few weeks or causes interruptions in sleep or your daily schedule should not be ignored, as they could be the sign of a more serious problem. Here are the following symptoms to look out for:

Blood in Stool or Vomit

Bleeding in the GI tract is not normal and needs to be evaluated by your gastroenterologist immediately. This goes for anyone experiencing blood in the stool or blood in vomit. We perform procedures like endoscopy and colonoscopy in order to evaluate and diagnose GI bleeding, which could be due to an ulcer, hemorrhoids, cancer, or other conditions.

Difficulty Swallowing

If you have problems coordinating your swallowing, difficulty getting food from your mouth down your esophagus, or you feel like food keeps getting stuck in your chest, it’s important to consult with a physician. Difficulty swallowing or getting food through the esophagus into the stomach can mean there is an inflammation or some sort of narrowing or blockage within the esophagus.

Anemia

Anemia is defined as having low iron in the blood. While having a balanced diet rich in iron can help raise low iron levels in the blood, there may be other causes of iron deficiency, so be sure to consult with your physician, as anemia can also be a symptom of bleeding, which means the body is losing blood or isn’t absorbing the necessary nutrients for your body to properly function. Symptoms of anemia include feeling tired, dizzy, having heart palpitations, or being short of breath. A blood test can determine if someone is anemic, however, only GI testing can determine if there is a cause within the GI tract.

For more information about common signs and symptoms of gastrointestinal disorders, schedule an appointment with one of our physicians by calling US Digestive Health at (717) 245-2228. Our board-certified physicians will help to diagnose your possible condition and offer the best treatment options available.

 

 

 

The gastrointestinal (GI) system goes all the way from the mouth to the anus, and for medical evaluation and treatment purposes it’s divided into two main sections: the upper and lower gastrointestinal tract. There are various ailments that can afflict the upper and/or lower GI tract.

Let’s discuss everything you need to know about the upper and lower GI tracts and the diseases associated with them.

Upper GI Tract Conditions

The upper GI tract is made up of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and duodenum (the first part of the small intestine). When we eat, the food and liquid travels from our throat through our esophagus to our stomach.

The valve at the base of the esophagus, known as the lower esophageal sphincter, prevents food and stomach acids from flowing back up into our esophagus. The food you ate begins to digest and turns into a liquid in your stomach.

(If the sphincter suddenly fails, it can allow food to flow back upward into the esophagus. This causes acid reflux.)

After that, it travels from your stomach to the duodenum, where bile and digestive enzymes – which are produced by the gallbladder (with assistance from the liver and pancreas) – further break down the liquefied food. This is how your body is able to absorb the nutrients.

When there are issues with the upper GI tract, symptoms can include gas, bloating, stomach pain, and heartburn. These symptoms can be quite unpleasant, but can also be a sign of a more serious underlying condition.

Diseases of the Upper GI Tract

Health conditions of the upper GI tract include:

Lower GI Tract Conditions

The lower GI tract consists of the small intestine, large intestine (colon), rectum, and anus. Most of the nutrients from our food are absorbed in the small intestine; what’s left in the small intestine is waste, which then travels to the large intestine.

As the waste products move through our colon, water is absorbed, and the particles become solid – which is what forms into stool.

The stool then moves into the lower part of the colon, followed by the rectum and anal canal. There, it passes out of the body as a bowel movement.

When there are issues with the lower GI tract, symptoms can include diarrhea, constipation, and hemorrhoids. These symptoms can be quite painful and should not be ignored, as they could indicate a more serious underlying condition.

Diseases of the Lower GI Tract

Conditions of the lower GI tract include:

How Are GI Diseases Diagnosed?

To find out whether you have a GI condition, your gastroenterologist will perform diagnostic tests. For upper GI issues, the doctor may conduct an endoscopy or an upper GI series/barium swallow. For lower GI issues, the tests may include a colonoscopy, enteroscopy, or lower GI series/barium enema.

Treatment usually begins with recommended changes to your diet and/or lifestyle. Treatment may also include medication or surgery to help alleviate your symptoms and to improve your quality of life.

South Central Pennsylvania Gastroenterology

Our board-certified and fellowship-trained gastroenterologists at US Digestive Health have years of experience in diagnosing and treating upper and lower GI conditions. We offer comprehensive diagnosis and treatment, as well as the highest quality of care.

If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, call us today at (717) 245-2228 or use our secure online appointment request form. We are happy to serve you – and to help you feel much, much better.

If you notice blood in your stool, it may have originated from anywhere in the gastrointestinal tract, most often in the colon, rectum, or anus. The color of the blood may indicate the possible origin of the bleeding. Lesions close to the anus leak bright blood. The upper parts of the large intestine cause dark red or maroon blood. Bleeding from the stomach produces black and tarry stools called melena. If blood loss is severe, it may occur with the additional symptoms of weakness, dizziness, low blood pressure and anemia – which may require hospitalization. In some cases, you may have rectal bleeding that you are unable to see (fecal occult blood, or hidden blood), which can only be detected when stool samples are examined at a laboratory.

Causes of Rectal Bleeding

Rectal bleeding occurs for different reasons and certain causes are more prevalent at different ages.

Common causes of rectal bleeding include:

  • Abnormalities of Gut – most of these occur in young children and involve the lining of the gut. Examples include a twisting of the gut (volvulus), blockage due to one part of the gut being sucked into another (intussusception), and a congenital bulge in the small intestine (Meckel’s diverticulum).
  • Anal fissures – small tears in the anal canal lining, due to chronic constipation, diarrhea, straining, or anal intercourse.
  • Constipation and hard stools – constipation itself can occur for a variety of reasons such as a side effect of certain medications and is more common among older adults.
  • Hemorrhoids – swollen and inflamed veins in the anus or rectum caused by constipation, diarrhea, a low-fiber diet, heavy lifting, or hard stools.

Less common causes of rectal bleeding include cancer, colitis, colon polyps, Crohn’s disease, diverticulosis, infections, and ulcers.

When to Seek Medical Help

At some point in our lives, most people may notice a little blood in their stool. How do you know if it’s medically significant?

If you notice mild bleeding with your stool that lasts for more than a few days, schedule an appointment with your doctor for a proper assessment. Don’t dismiss it or assume the cause is minor if you otherwise feel healthy. That said, no matter your precise symptoms, if you are worried, you should see a doctor who specializes in disorders of the gastrointestinal tract to at the very least arm you with information for what signs and symptoms you need to be concerned with, given your health history and risks for various diseases.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are instances where blood in the stool indicates a medical emergency. Seek emergency medical assistance if you are experiencing significant amounts of rectal blooding – especially if it is also accompanied by severe abdominal pain or cramping and the following signs and symptoms of shock: fast, shallow breathing; vertigo; fuzzy vision; loss of consciousness; disorientation or confusion; nausea or vomiting; cold, damp, pale skin.

Diagnosing the Cause of Rectal Bleeding

Because blood in the stool can indicate any number of problems, your doctor will need detailed information to help with an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

If the condition is chronic, it is helpful to keep a journal of your symptoms. When you meet your doctor, be prepared to provide the following information:

  • How long you’ve noticed rectal bleeding
  • Describe the color of the blood: is it a bright or dark red?
  • Whether the bleeding happens all the time, or whether it’s intermittent
  • If pain is involved, where in the body it is felt (such as the anus or stomach), when it occurs (such as while passing stool, or before or after passing stool) and how it feels (whether a burning, stabbing, itchiness, etc.)
  • Whether diarrhea or constipation is also occurring
  • If you have a family history of gastrointestinal disorders or bleeding
  • What medications you’re currently taking, including NSAIDs and blood-thinners
  • If you’re experiencing any unexplained weight loss

During the examination, the doctor will examine your anus and rectum by inserting a gloved finger or proctoscope into your anus to look inside. Anal fissures or hemorrhoids may be diagnosed this way. Additional tests may be needed to rule out other conditions.

For more information about common signs and symptoms of gastrointestinal disorders, schedule an appointment with one of our physicians by calling US Digestive Health at (717) 245-2228. Our board-certified physicians can offer expert help in the diagnosis and treatment of many different GI disorders.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you suspect that you might be anemic, you might wonder what symptoms and signs to look for. Because anemia involves your blood, it can affect many different aspects of your health.

Causes of Anemia

Among its other functions, your blood carries oxygen to all parts of your body and your brain. The red blood cells are the transport vehicles for oxygen in your bloodstream. And within those red blood cells, a substance called hemoglobin makes that possible. If your red blood cells are damaged or if you don’t have enough of them, or if the hemoglobin in your red blood cells is low, you are at risk of not get enough oxygen. As a result you can develop symptoms of anemia.

There are many different causes of anemia, but they can be grouped into three basic categories:

  • Blood loss
  • Low or faulty manufacture of red blood cells
  • Damage and destruction of red blood cells

Signs and Symptoms

If you have very mild anemia you may not notice any symptoms, or attribute your symptoms to something else. If you experience any of these symptoms, you may be anemic:

  1. Unusual fatigue and lack of energy

You may experience unusual fatigue, even while maintaining your daily routine.  That’s because anemia affected the amount of oxygen flowing through your body to vital organs.

2. Dizziness and Headaches

Feeling lightheaded or dizzy? When your brain is receiving less oxygen, you can become light-headed or dizzy. Headache is also a very common symptom and there are many causes other than anemia, but it does occur with anemia and something you should take note of.

3. Rapid heartbeat or pulse

You may notice this during exercise at first. When your body senses that you’re not receiving the supply of oxygen it needs, it tells your heart to speed up and send more blood. Over time, this could damage your heart.

4. Being short of breath or not getting enough air

Once again, you may notice shortness of breath during physical activity. And again, this makes sense. Because your blood supply and oxygen is low, you have less fuel to carry on your physical activity. This could result in difficulty not only working out, but eventually, while you perform everyday activities.

5. Spoon shaped or upward curving fingernails

If you notice that your fingernails are changing shape, this rare but relevant symptom indicates a more severe lack of iron.

6. Leg cramping or restless legs

Lack of adequate blood flow to the legs can cause painful cramping. It may also lead to a problem called restless leg syndrome. This uncomfortable sensation that your legs are uncomfortable and need movement is still being researched, but it is believed that it is can be associated with anemia.

7. Trouble falling or staying asleep

This common symptom is sometimes due to insufficient supply of oxygen.

8. Skin that is paler than usual

When hemoglobin levels drop, the reddish color it supplies also drops. You skin looks less reddish or paler than usual.

9. Dry, damaged or thinning hair

Hair that is starved of needed oxygen can lose its strength and vitality.

10. Unusual cravings

Some people have a habit of chewing ice. This may indicate anemia.  But there is also an unusual condition called pica where cravings include dirt and paper.  These cravings are often due to a lack of iron and are quite common in pregnant women.

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, or to get answers to your questions about anemia or other health issues, US Digestive Health can help. Call us today at (717) 245-2228 or schedule an appointment online.

There could be many reasons you should consult a gastroenterologist, or a digestion doctor, if you are experiencing abnormal symptoms. While many may associate a gastroenterologist with being just a stomach doctor, keep in mind that these specialists help treat conditions for many different areas of your body. Symptoms affecting anywhere from your esophagus all the way down to your rectum may be treated by a gastroenterologist.

So how can a digestive doctor help you? Consider your symptoms and how you should seek the appropriate medical care.

You’re experiencing constipation

The rule of thumb is that less than three bowel movements a week indicate constipation. If you are affected by constipation, it could mean a serious digestive issue is causing it. Constipation can most often affect older people, people who are dehydrated, or have diets that are low in fiber.

You experience diarrhea

The opposite of constipation, diarrhea is too many bowel movement that aren’t solid. This, too, can indicate an issue with your digestion. You may feel cramps in your stomach or notice watery stools when you use the restroom. It’s important to note that although common, having regularly-occurring diarrhea could indicate a more serious underlying condition, like Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Consistent heartburn

While heartburn is fairly common, consistent heartburn is the sign of a larger issue like acid reflux, or GERD.

You suspect you have gallstones

If you have stomach pain, gallstones, or hardened buildup of the digestive fluid that breaks down your food, could be the culprit. Sometimes the pain can last hours, but most that experience this pain report that it can come on suddenly and intensely. If this pain is consistently severe, you should seek out a gastroenterologist, because you might need to have your gallbladder removed.

To schedule a colonoscopy

You don’t need to have symptoms to see a gastroenterologist! A digestion doctor can also help you stay on top of your colonoscopy exams, which you should be having done every 5-10 years if you’re over the age of 50.

Cancer screenings

After a certain age, older adults should make a habit of screening for cancer that could affect your digestive tract. This means screenings for colorectal cancer, intestinal cancer, and beyond.

You suspect you have an ulcer

An ulcer, otherwise known as open sores in your stomach and intestine, can manifest with burning stomach pain. Basically, any time you eat, the acid that would break down the food is what causes you pain. If antacids aren’t doing the trick, it’s time to see a specialist.

Your diet is causing bloating

If you are consistently feeling bloated after eating, or even experiencing pain, it could be something in your diet that is causing it.  Do you get a stomachache after drinking milk? A gastroenterologist would be able to pinpoint the cause.

Hemorrhoids

When the veins in your rectum become irritated, they swell. This is where hemorrhoids come from. It is also a fairly common issue, and a specialist should be able to treat it quickly and easily.

Blood in stool

Blood in the stool is often a serious sign that something isn’t right. If you notice any rectal bleeding or blood in your stool, seek out a doctor that specializes in digestion, or ask for a referral from your primary care doctor.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, or just need to schedule an appointment, call (717) 245-2228. The experienced physicians and staff at US Digestive Health are here for you.

 

 

 

 

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