Colon polyps are very common. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, anywhere from 15% to 40% of American adults may develop them. Polyps are detected through a colonoscopy, which takes images from inside your colon to look for abnormal growths and lesions. Dr. Krishnamurthy Shivshanker, a gastroenterologist in Houston, TX, offers diagnostic testing and treatment options for digestive diseases and disorders.
Colonoscopy and Colon Cancer Screening in Houston, TX
What you need to know about polyps and screening for colon cancer:
Frequently Asked Questions About Colon Cancer
Q: What are polyps?
A: Colon polyps are growths that develop in the lining of your colon (large intestine) and the rectum. While anyone can develop them, they tend to be more common in older adults, men, people with a family history of colorectal cancers, and people with digestive disorders and diseases like inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn's disease. Lifestyle factors like obesity and smoking may also increase the chances of developing colon polyps in some people.
Q: Are polyps cancerous?
A: In most cases, colon polyps are not cancerous, but some types of polyps can eventually develop into colorectal cancer over time in certain people. If you have a family history of colorectal cancers and other factors that may increase your risk, the gastroenterologist may recommend earlier and more frequent colon cancer screenings depending on your situation.
Q: Do colon polyps have to be removed?
A: If polyps are detected during a colonoscopy, the gastroenterologist will typically remove them and send them for testing (biopsy).
Q: Do colon polyps cause symptoms?
A: Usually not. Because colon cancer can be difficult to detect in the early stages when it is most treatable, regular screenings are necessary to prevent and catch it as early as possible. For healthy adults with a normal risk, screenings are usually recommended at age 50. Individuals with a high risk or history of colorectal cancer may need to undergo screening earlier and more frequently.
Find a Gastroenterologist in Houston, TX
For more information about polyps and colon cancer screening and treatment, contact Houston Digestive Diseases Consultants by calling (713) 777-2555 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Shivshanker today.
A colonoscopy is a simple procedure that allows our Houston gastroenterologist Dr. Krishnamurthy Shivshanker to look at and examine the lining of the colon and rectum to diagnose issues, detect early signs of colorectal cancer, and more. In fact, a colonoscopy is truly the best diagnostic tool we have at our disposable for detecting colorectal cancer early on when it’s easier to treat.
Of course, our GI specialist may recommend getting a colonoscopy in Houston for these reasons:
Along with diagnosing cancer, a simple colonoscopy can also allow our gastroenterology team to diagnose other digestive disorders such as:
- Crohn’s disease
- Inflammatory bowel disease
People dealing with symptoms such as changes in bowel movements, abdominal pain, and unexplained weight loss may need to undergo a colonoscopy to find out what’s causing their symptoms.
During a colonoscopy, our gastroenterologist may even be able to address certain issues. For instance, we can remove abnormal tissue (to biopsy) and colon polyps, as well as stop digestive bleeds.
This is the most common reason someone undergoes a colonoscopy. In fact, both men and women should schedule their first routine colonoscopy by the time they turn 50 years old (if you have certain risk factors you may want to schedule a colonoscopy a little earlier). If your colonoscopy comes back healthy then you shouldn’t need one for another decade. This simple procedure, which usually takes around 30 to 60 minutes, could just save your life.
What are risk factors for colorectal cancer?
It’s important to know whether you may be at an increased risk for developing colorectal cancer over the course of your lifetime. Common risk factors include:
- Older age (being over 50 years old)
- Being male
- Having inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
- Having a personal or family history of colorectal polyps or cancer
- Certain genetic disorders such as familial adenomatous polyposis
- Leading a sedentary lifestyle
- Eating a diet high in fat and low in fiber
- Being overweight or obese
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Tobacco use
Whether you are dealing with unexplained abdominal pain, changes in your bowels or you have just turned 50 years old, your gastroenterologist at Houston Digestive Diseases Consultants wants to make sure that everyone gets the proper diagnosis and treatment they need. If it’s time to undergo a colonoscopy in Houston, TX, then call our office today to schedule a consultation.
People sometimes joke that colon polyps are the skin tags of the digestive tract, but, in reality, these seemingly benign growths could pose a real danger to your health: colorectal cancer. Fortunately, here at Houston Digestive Diseases Consultants, your gastroenterologist, Dr. Krishnamurthy Shivshanker, routinely screens people over the age of 50 for polyps, removing and analyzing them as necessary to detect dangerous abnormalities.
Exactly what are colon polyps?
Polyps are very small growths on the wall of the large intestine. Either flat or cauliflower-like, polyps typically pose no health threat whatsoever. However, a small number may change into malignancies, which invade the wall of the colon and, if left unchecked, spread cancer cells throughout the body. This is what concerns your Houston gastroenterologist and his professional team.
The American Cancer Society reports that over 44,000 new cases of colorectal cancer will be diagnosed in the United States this year. All of those cases arise from polyps which have turned malignant. Obviously, then, early detection and removal of all colon polyps is critical to GI health and even survival.
While many colon cancers—and the polyps which create them—present no symptoms until well-advanced, some people do exhibit signs of this potentially deadly disease. Signs may include:
- Blood in the stool
- Loss of appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
The best way to find, remove, and biopsy polyps is through colonoscopy. While a patient is under twilight sedation, the gastroenterologist introduces a thin, lighted tube through the rectum and into the entire length of the large intestine.
This endoscope is lighted, allowing the physician to see and take pictures of the intestinal wall. If a polyp is detected, Dr. Shivshanker removes it for biopsy using a small wire snare that is also introduced through the lighted scope. This tissue then goes to the lab for analysis.
Detection and analysis
They're so important in the fight against colorectal cancer. Fightcoloncancer.org says that a full two-thirds of hyperplastic polyps (also called adenomas) are cancerous. So, if you're approaching your fiftieth birthday or have passed it already, contact our Houston office to schedule a colonoscopy!
Give us a call!
Contact us today to learn more. We have two locations to serve you: for the South Highway location, phone (713) 777-2555, and for the NLoop W office, call (713) 880-8707.
Are you suffering from diverticulitis?
Diverticulitis is when pouches called diverticula that are found along the intestine walls are inflamed or infected. Dr. Krishnamurthy Shivshanker of Houston Digestive Diseases Consultants in Houston, TX, can help diagnose and treat this issue.
More About Diverticulitis
The formation of these pouches is a condition called diverticulosis but diverticulitis is an advanced stage of diverticulosis. Several small abscess form in the pouches which may result in infection, or perforate the bowel.
In actuality, the pouches develop in several places, not just the intestines. They can be found on the digestive tract but are most commonly found on the left side of the abdomen.
Symptoms of Diverticulitis
- Severe abdominal pain and cramping on the left side of the abdomen
- Sensitivity to touch
- Chills or fever
- Bowel obstruction resulting in constipation
- Thin stools
- Rectal bleeding, which is rare
Severe symptoms that require doctor notification include:
- Rigid abdomen and pain when you move
- Peritonitis, infection of abdominal cavity membrane
- Abdominal swelling
- Blood in your stool
If left untreated, complications may arise and you may need surgery:
- Abscesses formation near the infected diverticula.
- Fistulas develop if an infected diverticulum reaches an organ, such as the large intestine, bladder, kidneys
- Severe bleeding may result in needing a blood transfusion.
- Scarring resulting in blockage of the intestine.
Your Houston gastroenterologist performs several tests that help indicate where exactly the abscessed pouches are located and the severity of the condition.
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- CT scan: A CT scan is a series of X-ray images taken from different angles to evaluate your intestines and the surrounding tissue.
- Colonoscopy: This procedure enables your doctor to examine the lining of your large intestine, colon, by inserting a thin, flexible tube into your anus to monitor your intestine for any abnormalities.
Need a Consultation?
For more information about diverticulitis, contact your Houston, TX, gastroenterologist by calling (713) 777-2555 today!
Do certain foods cause a burning feeling in your chest? It could be acid reflux!
At the start of your stomach is a valve, known as the lower esophageal sphincter. Once food passes through the stomach the job of the sphincter is to close. Of course, if the sphincter doesn’t close or opens too frequently then stomach acid may be able to enter the esophagus. When this happens acid reflux occurs. From the office of our Houston gastroenterologist Dr. Krishnamurthy Shivshanker, find out more about acid reflux and how to get your symptoms under control.
How can I tell whether I have acid reflux?
The most common symptom associated with acid reflux is heartburn, which is characterized by a burning or gnawing feeling in your chest that is often felt within the throat, as well. Sometimes regurgitation occurs, in which you can feel the acid going back into the throat or mouth.
Other symptoms of acid reflux include:
- Persistent hiccups
- The sensation of food being stuck in your throat (known as dysphagia)
- Unexplained weight loss
- Dry cough and hoarseness
- Chronic sore throat
If you are noticing these symptoms rather regularly, particularly after eating then you could have acid reflux. In order to find out if it’s truly acid reflux, it’s important to visit your gastroenterologist in Houston for a proper diagnosis.
What causes acid reflux?
One such cause of acid reflux is a condition known as a hiatal hernia, where the stomach pushes through the muscles of the diaphragm. Besides a hiatal hernia, there are several factors that can also increase the likelihood of developing acid reflux.
- Being overweight or obese
- Eating a large meal
- Lying down after eating
- Eating close to bedtime
- Consuming certain foods such as spicy or fatty foods, or citrus fruits
- Being pregnant
- Drinking alcohol or caffeine
How can I treat acid reflux?
There are many ways in which to treat acid reflux, depending on the severity of your symptoms. If you are only dealing with mild acid reflux or a bout of acid reflux you can often turn to an over-the-counter antacid to either prevent or treat your heartburn.
If you experience acid reflux more than twice a week, then you could have a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Along with medications you can also make lifestyle changes to reduce your chances for acid reflux symptoms.
If OTC medications and lifestyle modifications don’t work, or if your GERD is severe, then a gastroenterologist may prescribe a stronger medication to reduce or even stop the production of stomach acid.
If you are dealing with acid reflux regularly and your symptoms aren’t being managed with over-the-counter medications, then it’s time to schedule a checkup with one of our Houston, TX, gastrointestinal professionals. Turn to the experts at Houston Digestive Diseases Consultants for care.
This diagnostic and screening procedure is important for your gastrointestinal health.
Maybe you’ve never had a colonoscopy before but chances are good that you’ve heard about it. After all, everyone will need to have one at some point during their life. So, what is a colonoscopy and why it is required? Our Houston gastroenterologist Dr. Krishnamurthy Shivshanker is here to tell you more.
A Colonoscopy as a Preventive Procedure
A colonoscopy allows our gastroenterologist to see in great detail the health of the intestinal tract in a way that an X-ray or other imaging tools cannot. By directing a thin flexible tube with a camera (known as an endoscope) through the rectum and into the colon and intestines, we can look for polyps and other early warning signs of colorectal cancer.
Colorectal cancer happens to both men and women and most of the time symptoms do not manifest until the cancer has already spread. This is why it’s so important that everyone, no matter how healthy they are, undergo a colonoscopy once they reach 50 years old. If you have any risk factors (e.g. family history of colorectal cancer; smoker) then our Houston GI doctor may recommend getting a colonoscopy sooner (this is something we would be happy to discuss with you. Healthy individuals can often get away with getting just one colonoscopy every 10 years).
During a colonoscopy, we can also remove polyps (also known as adenomas) within the colon and rectum. While many polyps are benign, there are some that can turn cancerous. By getting routine colonoscopies we can remove these potentially serious polyps to prevent colorectal cancer.
A Colonoscopy as a Diagnostic Tool
Sometimes a colonoscopy is recommended if you are experiencing certain symptoms that are difficult to diagnose without seeing what’s going on within the digestive tract. A gastrointestinal specialist may advise you to have a colonoscopy if you are experiencing rectal bleeding, unexplained abdominal pain or symptoms that may indicate bleeding within the intestines.
Are you living in Houston and need to schedule your first colonoscopy? Experiencing certain gastrointestinal symptoms that aren’t going away? If so, then call Houston Digestive Diseases Consultants today. We can help.
What your gastroenterologist in Houston wants you to know
Upper endoscopy is a valuable screening and diagnostic procedure to evaluate your esophagus, stomach, and duodenum, which is part of the small intestine. Upper endoscopy, also referred to as an EGD, can help your gastroenterologist diagnose and treat painful gastrointestinal conditions like GERD, ulcers, or celiac disease. Dr. Krishnamurthy Shivshanker at Houston Digestive Diseases Consultants in Houston, TX, wants to share the facts about upper endoscopy and how the procedure can help you.
You might need an upper endoscopy if you experience:
- Chronic nausea and vomiting
- Pain in your abdomen
- Problems swallowing
- Gastrointestinal bleeding
Some of the problems which can be identified by upper endoscopy include:
- Celiac disease
- Anemia or peptic ulcers
- Esophageal inflammation or injury
- Gastroesophageal Reflux disease (GERD)
- Esophageal, stomach, or intestinal cancers
Upper endoscopy allows your gastroenterologist to treat medical conditions by dilating your esophagus to get better access to structures of your digestive system. The procedure can also be used to take biopsies of abnormal tissue, remove polyps, or cauterize tissue to stop bleeding.
To prepare for upper endoscopy, your doctor will request that you stop eating or drinking at least 4 to 8 hours before the procedure, and stop taking any blood thinning medications including NSAIDS.
You may be given a sedative before the procedure, so it is best to arrive with someone who can take you home afterward. Your doctor may use the anesthetic spray to slightly numb your throat, and then the endoscope is inserted into your mouth and guided down your throat.
The endoscope is a thin, flexible tube which has a camera on one end. During your procedure, the camera allows your doctor to visualize your esophagus, stomach, and upper intestine in real time. The procedure is easily tolerated and you may even fall asleep.
For more detailed information about upper endoscopy, please visit the Upper Endoscopy section on the Houston Digestive Diseases Consultants website at http://www.houstontxgi.com/library/4281/UnderstandingUpperEndoscopy.html
Upper endoscopy is a vital tool in maintaining your esophageal and gastrointestinal health. To find out more about upper endoscopy and other gastrointestinal services, call Dr. Shivshanker at Houston Digestive Diseases Consultants in Houston, TX, today!
Are you experiencing unexplained stomach cramping, bloated stomach, constipation, and passing gas too often? You could be dealing with a common digestive disease called diverticulitis. According to the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy it affects as many as half of Americans over the age of 60. At Houston Digestive Diseases Consultants in Houston, TX, a gastroenterologist will talk to you about how to ease your symptoms.
What Is Diverticulitis?
Diverticulitis is a gastrointestinal condition that occurs in the colon. Pockets called diverticula form along the walls of the colon, most likely due to pressure and straining when going to the bathroom. Those pockets may become infected with bad bacteria that reside in the colon. As waste attempts to pass through the colon, the pockets may cause temporary blockages and more straining. Doctors believe that the underlying cause of diverticulitis is not getting enough fiber in your diet, which in turn causes constipation.
As is the case with many abdominal conditions, pain is often the first symptom of diverticulitis. You may feel this pain before and while going to the bathroom. An increase in odorous gas and bloating of the stomach may also happen, which is possibly the most embarrassing symptom of diverticulitis. If your stomach suddenly feels or looks bloated, this condition may be one of the causes. Be sure to tell your Houston gastroenterologist all of the symptoms you’ve been experiencing at your next appointment.
Diverticulitis Diagnosis and Treatments
Diagnosing diverticulitis as the exact cause of your digestive issues is the first course of action. This can be done with a CT scan or colonoscopy test. You will also discuss your medical history with your gastroenterologist, including any medications you have recently started and any dietary changes. The treatment will most likely be oral antibiotics to eliminate any infection, probiotics to balance gut flora, and fiber supplement. A new diet high in fiber will also help.
Get Relief from Symptoms
In order to get relief from the uncomfortable symptoms of diverticulitis, you’ll have to get it properly diagnosed by a gastroenterologist at Houston Digestive Diseases Consultants in Houston, TX. Call (713) 777-2555 today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Krishnamurthy Shivshanker.
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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