Polyps are small clusters of cells that tend to grow in places like the uterine lining, the nasal cavity, and the colon. Although polyps are often benign (non-cancerous), some types of polyps can eventually develop into colon cancer. Dr. Krishnamurthy Shivshanker, a gastroenterologist at Houston Digestive Diseases Consultants, advises adults to become familiar with their individual risk of developing colon cancer and to begin regular colonoscopy screenings at the appropriate age.
Colonoscopy and Polyp Removal in Houston, TX
In many cases, people with colon polyps don't know they have them because they often don't produce noticeable symptoms. When they do produce symptoms they include:
- Unexplained changes in bowel movements
- Abdominal pain and cramping
- Blood in stool/rectal bleeding
Symptoms like blood in your stool or changes in things like the consistency and color of your bowel movements can be a sign of a number of different things, from polyps to colon cancer in extreme cases. Hemorrhoids can also bleed during or after a bowel movement. Schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist if you notice blood in your stool or significant changes in your bowel movements or pain and cramping that aren't related to diet, or that persist or clear up and then return.
Colon Polyp Screening and Treatment
For most healthy adults, the recommended age to get a colonoscopy is 50, however people with higher risk factors for colon cancer such as family history or a history of polyps may need to start screening much earlier.
The most common screening methods for polyps include:
- Standard colonoscopy
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy
- Stool-based testing
Polyps can be removed during a colonoscopy or through minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery.
Find a Gastroenterologist in Houston, TX
For more information on how to determine your individual colon cancer risk and when you get a colonoscopy screening, contact Houston Digestive Diseases Consultants by calling (713) 777-2555 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Shivshanker today.
What's the third biggest cause of cancer deaths in the United States? The American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy says it's colon cancer, and if you're over 50, you should be screened for it. At Houston Digestive Diseases Consultants, expect the highest standard of care. Your Houston, TX, gastroenterologist, Dr. Krishnamurthy Shivshanker and his professional team will make your experience as easy as possible and answer all your questions about this life-saving procedure.
Frequently asked questions about colonoscopy
1. Do I have to have one? If you're 50 or older, the answer is yes, and in some cases, routine colon cancer screenings happen more frequently if the illness seems to run in the family.
2. Exactly what is it? It's an outpatient procedure in which the Houston gastroenterologist inserts a flexible and lighted tube into the anus, through the rectum and into the entire length of the large intestine. The tube has a camera which sends real-time video feed to a monitor in the treatment room. Colonoscopies detect abnormalities such as polyps, cancer, diverticulum, sources of bleeding and more.
3. What's the reason for the day-long prep? The patient abstains from solid foods, consuming only a clear liquid diet the day before the procedure. Also, he or she follows a bowel prep regimen which includes consumption of laxatives. A clean bowel gives the doctor the best possible images during the procedure.
4. What does the doctor see during my colonoscopy? He sees the normal lining of the large intestine and also can visualize any abnormalities. If, for instance, he sees a polyp, he can "snare" it (painlessly) for biopsy.
5. Will it hurt? No, your colonoscopy will not hurt. During the entire 45-minute test, you will be positioned comfortably on your left side and will receive a sedative such as Valium to relax you. In fact, afterwards, you may have little or no memory of your procedure and must have a responsible adult drive you home.
6. When will I get results? Dr. Shivshanker reviews results right the procedure. Results from biopsies come in a few days.
7. How often should i get a colonoscopy? After a clear colonoscopy, your Houston gastroenterologist likely will advise getting one every ten years. If polyps were discovered, the interval may be shorter--every five years, for example. However, Dr. Shivshanker will tell you what's best for your unique case.
Other questions?Contact Houston Digestive Diseases Consultants with your concerns. The friendly and knowledgeable staff will be happy to help. Call (713) 777-2555 for the SW Highway office, and for the N Loop W location, phone (713) 880-8707.
Making a few simple changes can help you reduce painful and uncomfortable acid reflux symptoms. Our Houston, TX, gastroenterologist, Dr. Krishnamurthy Shivshanker of Houston Digestive Diseases Consultants, offers a few suggestions that will help you manage your acid reflux.
Avoid food triggers
Certain foods can cause acid reflux symptoms or make them worse. If you suffer from heartburn, bloating, a sour taste in your mouth, belching, nausea after eating, a "lump in the throat" sensation or other common reflux symptoms, avoid or limit these foods and drinks:
- Carbonated or caffeinated beverages
- Fatty or fried foods
- Acidic foods, such as orange juice or tomato sauce
- Onions and garlic
Even a few extra pounds can put pressure on your abdomen and cause reflux. Maintaining a healthy weight offers many benefits, including the reduction of acid reflux symptoms.
Keep it loose
Tight belts or clothing may make your symptoms worse. If you suffer from reflux, loose clothing is best.
Stay upright after meals
Lying down soon after you eat makes it easier for acids to travel from your stomach into your esophagus. Luckily, it's easy to avoid the problem by avoiding reclining for at least two hours after a meal.
Raise the head of your bed
Are your acid reflux symptoms worse at night? Keeping your upper body elevated can be helpful. Raise the head of your bed by about six inches or sleep on a wedge-shaped cushion.
Eat smaller meals
The more food in your stomach, the greater the chance that you'll experience acid reflux symptoms. Decrease the risk by eating six smaller meals throughout the day, rather than three large ones.
Visit a gastroenterologist
Do you frequently experience acid reflux symptoms even though you follow these tips? You may benefit from a visit to either of our Houston offices. Based on your symptoms and the results of diagnostic tests, we can recommend a variety of over-the-counter and prescription medications that can neutralize, lower or block stomach acid production or help the contents of your stomach pass through the gastrointestinal tract faster.
Would you like to reduce your acid reflux symptoms? Schedule an appointment with Dr. Shivshanker of Houston Digestive Diseases Consultants in his Houston, TX, offices by calling (713) 777-2555 for the Southwest Highway office or (713) 880-8707 for the N Loop W office.
Are you concerned about rectal bleeding? Although bleeding may be a sign of cancer, minor rectal bleeding is usually caused by less serious conditions. Our Houston, TX, gastroenterologist, Dr. Krishnamurthy Shivshanker of Houston Digestive Disease Consultants, shares information about rectal bleeding and explains what you should do if you notice occasional bleeding.
What causes rectal bleeding?
Minor rectal bleeding can be caused by several conditions including:
- Hemorrhoids: Hemorrhoids form inside and outside your anus when blood vessels become swollen. If you have hemorrhoids, it's not unusual to see a little blood on the toilet paper after a bowel movement. Other symptoms of hemorrhoids include itching or swelling or small bumps around the anus. Soaking your hemorrhoids in warm water and applying over-the-counter hemorrhoid cream can decrease pain and irritation. If home treatment doesn't help your hemorrhoids, we can offer other treatment options in either of our Houston offices, such as band ligation to cut off the blood supply to the hemorrhoid, laser treatment or medication injected into the hemorrhoids.
- Proctitis: Bleeding due to proctitis occurs when the lining of your rectum becomes inflamed. In addition to bleeding, you may pass mucus and experience pain around your anus. You may also feel that your bowel doesn't empty completely after bowel movements. Warm water baths and over-the-counter pain relievers can reduce pain and irritation caused by proctitis. Antibiotics, anti-viral medication and drugs that reduce inflammation may also be helpful, depending on the cause of your condition. Most people don't need surgery, but it may be recommended if bleeding occurs due to damage caused by inflammatory bowel disease.
- Anal Fissures: Anal fissures develop when the lining in your anus tears. The condition may occur if you have chronic diarrhea or constipation or recently experienced childbirth. Most anal fissures heal on their own in just a few weeks. Soaking in warm water and using stool softeners to make bowel movements easier can be helpful. If the fissure doesn't heal in two or three months, you may need prescription medication or surgery.
It's not always possible to tell if rectal bleeding is caused by a minor problem or cancer. If you're suffering from rectal bleeding, put your mind at ease by scheduling a visit with our Houston, TX, gastroenterologist, Dr. Shivshanker of Houston Digestive Disease Consultants. Make an appointment by calling (713) 777-2555 for the Southwest Highway office or (713) 880-8707 for the North Loop office.
Could you have diverticulosis? Our Houston, TX, gastroenterologist, Dr. Krishnamurthy Shivshanker of Houston Digestive Disease Consultants, shares some information about the condition.
What is diverticulosis?
Diverticulosis occurs when small pouches form in the wall of your large intestine. Thirty-five percent of people 50 and younger and 58 percent of people 60 and older have the condition, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease.
How can I tell if I have diverticulosis?
You probably won't experience any symptoms if you have diverticulosis. Many people only find out they have the condition when tests are performed to diagnose another condition or disease. If you do develop symptoms, you may notice bloating, pain in the lower left part of your abdomen or constipation. Symptoms are more likely to occur if you have diverticulitis, which occurs when the pouches become infected or inflamed. Fortunately, most people who have diverticulosis will never experience diverticulitis.
What are the symptoms of diverticulitis?
Diverticulitis symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain and tenderness
- Constipation or diarrhea
How is diverticulitis treated?
If you have diverticulitis, you'll need to take an antibiotic to treat the infection. You may also be advised to follow a liquid diet for a few days. You may spend a few days receiving intravenous antibiotics in the hospital if you suffer a severe attack. Surgery may be needed to treat bowel obstructions, abscesses or perforations.
How can I reduce the chance of developing diverticulosis or diverticulitis?
Drinking plenty of water and eating a high fiber diet can help digested food pass through your colon more quickly and may reduce your risk. Maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding smoking and exercising regularly may also be helpful. If you do develop diverticulitis symptoms, it's important to call our Houston office as soon as possible, particularly if your symptoms severe. The infection won't go away on its own, and obstructions and other serious consequences may be life-threatening if you don't receive prompt treatment.
Are you concerned that your abdominal pain may be a sign of diverticular disease? Call our Houston, TX, gastroenterologist, Dr. Shivshanker of Houston Digestive Disease Consultants, at (713) 777-2555 to schedule an appointment.
What your gastroenterologist in Houston wants you to know
Gastroenterology is a complex medical specialty dealing with diseases and conditions of the stomach and digestive system. Gastroenterologists, also called stomach doctors, can diagnose and treat ulcers, colon and rectal issues, and digestive problems. Dr. Krishnamurthy Shivshanker at Houston Digestive Diseases Consultants in Houston, TX, wants to share some frequently asked questions and answers about gastroenterology.
What is an endoscopy?
An endoscopy involves using a thin, flexible tube with a tiny camera attached on the end. The tool, known as an endoscope, is threaded down your esophagus and allows your doctor to see the tissue in your esophagus and upper digestive tract. An endoscopy can detect peptic ulcers, gastroesophageal disease or GERD, and bleeding in your upper digestive tract.
What is a colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is similar to an endoscopy; however, the thin, flexible tube is placed up through the rectum and allows your doctor to view your lower intestine, colon and rectum. A colonoscopy can detect colon cancer, colitis, Crohn’s disease, polyps, growths and gastrointestinal bleeding.
What is an ulcer?
An ulcer is an irritation or lesion in your stomach caused by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori or H. pylori. An overabundance of this bacterium causes an infection which can result in an ulcer. Ulcers can also develop from taking pain relievers like aspirin or ibuprofen for a long period of time.
How can I know if I have an ulcer?
Ulcers don’t always cause symptoms, making them difficult to diagnose. There are some typical signs and symptoms to look for including burning stomach pain, a full or bloated feeling, nausea, excess stomach acid, increasing pain between meals and during the night, and problems eating foods that are high in fat.
What are the signs of colon cancer?
Colon cancer can be deadly, which is why it is recommended to have a colonoscopy after the age of 50. There are some signs to look for if you think you might have colon cancer. Typical signs and symptoms include chronic abdominal pain and cramping, rapid loss of weight, fatigue, weakness, chronic constipation or diarrhea, and dark, tarry stools which may be an indication of blood in your stools.
These are just a few of the questions your gastroenterologist frequently answers. For more answers about gastroenterology conditions and treatment, call Dr. Krishnamurthy Shivshanker at Houston Digestive Diseases Consultants with two convenient office locations in Houston, TX. Call today!
Colorectal cancer is highly preventative and can be detected through tests even before symptoms arise. Your gastroenterologist in Houston, TX, Dr. Krishnamurthy Shivshanker from Houston Digestive Diseases Consultants, can examine you and determine whether a colonoscopy is advisable for your health. Generally, the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy suggests anyone over 50 or individuals under 50 with a family history to be screened.
Signs That A Colonoscopy is Needed
On top of the age guidelines set forth, there are a variety of symptoms that should signal that a colonoscopy may need to be performed. For instance, if someone is having suspicious bowel symptoms such as blood in the stool or unexplained pain or cramping, it may be a good idea to have this important test. Also, individuals with Crohn’s or Ulcerative colitis or a woman diagnosed with ovarian or uterine cancer before age 50 both may need colonoscopies. Your gastroenterologist in Houston Dr. Shivshanker from Houston Digestive Diseases Consultants can have a detailed conversation with you about your symptoms and determine whether or not this test is one that you should have administered.
It’s important to note that even individuals without any symptoms with a family history of colorectal cancer may need a colonoscopy. These high-risk groups have surveillance colonoscopy just to protect their health on a regular basis. The age this begins depends on each patient. Ultimately, this test can save lives as colon cancer is known for spreading fast throughout the rest of abdominal area. While it may be uncomfortable, it is able to detect serious things going on inside that you cannot determine without this procedure. Your Houston, TX gastroenterologist, Dr. Shivshanker from Houston Digestive Diseases Consultants, can help you determine whether a colonoscopy might be advisable in your situation. To schedule a consultation, call 713-777-2555 today.
Rectal bleeding can be rather unnerving. Find out if colon polyps could be to blame.
If you have colon polyps you may not even know it. Sometimes the only way people find out that they have this issue is when our Houston, TX, gastroenterologist, Dr. Krishnamurthy Shivshanker, performs a bowel examination. However, some people with colon polyps may, in fact, experience symptoms. These symptoms include:
- Rectal bleeding (this can also be a sign of a minor tear or hemorrhoids)
- Stool color changes (stool that contains blood may look black)
- Diarrhea or constipation that lasts more than one week
- Nausea, abdominal pain and vomiting (if the colon polyp obstructs the bowels)
When should you visit our Houston, TX, GI doctor?
It’s always a good idea to pick up the phone and give us a call if you are dealing with blood in your stool, abdominal pain or changes in your bowels that last longer than one week.
If you have a family history of colon cancer or if you are 50 years old or older, you should be getting routine screenings for polyps.
Are polyps a cause for concern?
Some colon polyp may be cancerous or become cancerous, which is why it’s so important that they are caught early and removed. The earlier they are detected and treated the less likely that they will be cancerous.
How are colon polyps removed?
During a bowel exam we can usually remove the polyp with special instruments. If the polyp is rather large, we may inject a special liquid into it to lift it away from neighboring healthy tissue so that it’s easier to remove. If the polyp is too large or is too difficult to remove through a traditional exam then we will need to perform surgery. Once the polyp is removed it is tested to make sure that it is benign.
Houston Digestive Diseases Consultants is dedicated to providing the very best gastrointestinal medical care. Whether you are experiencing symptoms of a colon polyp or you are dealing with suspicious stomach problems, let our GI medical experts in Houston, TX, treat your issues.
Acid reflux is a digestive disease that affects approximately 7 million people in the United States. Caused by stomach acid that backs up into the esophagus, it has roots in many different habits and conditions. At Houseton Digestive Diseases Consultants in Houston, TX our gastroenterologist, Dr. Krishnamurthy Shivshanker, is committed to helping their patients determine the source of their acid reflux in order to help them find relief from the discomfort. A few of the most common causes of reflux are listed here:
The diaphragm is a muscular structure that separates the stomach from the chest area of the body. A hiatal hernia causes the stomach to become displaced above the diaphragm, making it easier for acid to rise into the esophagus. A hiatal hernia is often just a physical abnormality, so your Houston gastroenterologist may prescribe medication to reduce or neutralize acid production to help lessen the reflux symptoms. A small number of patients may require surgery to reposition the stomach and diaphragm, although this is usually reserved for emergency complications, which are rare.
Foods and drinks that contain fat, caffeine, alcohol or citrus ingredients can all contribute to reflux. You may need to keep a food diary for a week or so to determine what your triggers are. If you notice an increase in reflux symptoms after a cup of coffee, for example, your Houston gastroenterologist suggests switching to green tea. You may also need to limit your intake of alcohol and avoid lemonade, orange juice, soda and other highly acidic beverages. For more reasons than preventing reflux, try to abstain from a diet high in fat.
There are many other temporary and ongoing conditions that may cause reflux. About 25% of pregnant women notice an increase in reflux symptoms, especially as their pregnancy progresses. People who regularly take aspirin, ibuprofen or blood thinning medications are also at risk for developing reflux. Lying down immediately after eating is also a common cause.
You don't have to suffer with reflux any longer. Contact Houston Digestive Diseases Consultants today to schedule an evaluation with Dr. Shivshanker!
Hemorrhoids are a big pain in the butt, literally. They are particularly frustrating to manage because they're located in a place that you use very often. If you have recurring issues with hemorrhoids, take the time to learn more about what causes them, how you can treat them and how to avoid them altogether.
What Are Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are painful veiny lumps that develop around the anus. They form due to pressure on the veins around the rectum and pelvis area. You can have either external or internal hemorrhoids (or both). Internal hemorrhoids develop inside of the anus, while external ones grow outside of the opening. Both are extremely painful. You can clearly tell when you have external hemorrhoids because you can see or feel them bulging from the anal area. If you see blood, or mucus, in your stool or the toilet after going to the bathroom, that is a possible sign of internal hemorrhoids.
Straining when having a bowel movement mostly causes hemorrhoids. Pushing hard to expel feces causes those veins to enlarge and become swollen. So if you have ongoing issues with constipation, this could be a chronic issue. Having a baby can also cause hemorrhoids because the mother must strain to push out her baby. Sitting for long periods of time in an uncomfortable position, such as on a rock or the cement, could also put undue pressure on the anal muscles, causing hemorrhoids.
While hemorrhoids do not usually present a serious medical concern, they can cause a number of negative side effects related to the pain. Knowing that a bowel movement will be painful could make you avoid moving your bowels regularly. Also, just sitting at a desk for work could become more of a chore than you ever imagine.
An over-the-counter or prescribed hemorrhoid cream is the usual solution for hemorrhoids. The cream slowly reduces the swelling. In more serious situations, a doctor may have to place bands at the base of the protruding veins to reduce their size slowly or perform a surgery. A hemorrhoidectomy is the traditional surgery, where the tissue is removed while a hemorrhoidopexy staples the tissue in a particular position so that hemorrhoids no longer form around the anus.
Have a Comfortable Seat
You may be able to manage most hemorrhoid pain without going to the doctor with natural solutions. Try sitting in a bath of warm water (also called a sitz bath) for about a half an hour. Do not sit on hard surfaces or even on chairs that are firm -- sit on a pillow or a doughnut. If possible, do not sit at all -- lay down on your side instead while dealing with a hemorrhoid. Avoid straining when going to the bathroom and to avoid future problems with constipation, eat foods high in fiber and exercise more.
Welcome to the Blog of Houston Digestive Diseases Consultants
Whether you are an existing patient or searching for a gastroenterologist in the Houston area, we're excited you are here. With the internal medicine industry advancing, we recognize the importance of keeping our patients and visitors up to date with all of the new and exciting things taking place in our practice.
As we move forward with our blog, we hope to promote medical awareness to aid your healthy, active lifestyle. Here you will find a variety of articles and topics including the latest developments in internal medicine, digestive diseases and helpful self care advice from our staff.
We hope you find our blog to be helpful, engaging and informational to ensure your long-term health.
As always, feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns.
-- The Houston Digestive Diseases Consultants
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