Our Gastroenterology Blog

Posts for category: GI Care

May 27, 2021
Category: GI Care
Tags: acid reflux  

Do you often experience heartburn, belching, or nausea? Acid reflux may be to blame for your symptoms. Fortunately, your Houston, TX, gastroenterologists at Houston Digestive Disease Consultants offer treatments that will ease your uncomfortable symptoms.

What causes acid reflux?

Acid reflux occurs when stomach acids flow back into your esophagus, the tube that carries food to your stomach. The acid irritates the sensitive lining of the esophagus, causing burning pain, bloating, nausea, belching, or an uncomfortably full sensation. Acid reflux can occur if the sphincter that separates the stomach from the esophagus is weak or doesn't close completely.

You may be more likely to experience acid reflux symptoms if you're obese or take medications to treat depression, high blood pressure, asthma, Parkinson's disease, and other conditions. Other risk factors include pregnancy, the presence of a hiatal hernia, asthma, diabetes, or a connective tissue disorder.

Is it acid reflux or GERD?

Your acid reflux could be related to gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD). You might have GERD if your acid reflux symptoms affect or interfere with your daily life or you have reflux symptoms more than twice a week. If you have GERD, you may experience

  • More saliva than usual
  • Bad breath
  • Hoarse voice
  • Frequent earaches
  • Sore throat
  • Chronic cough
  • Sour taste in your mouth
  • A feeling that something is stuck in your throat
  • Worsening of asthma symptoms

How is acid reflux treated?

Whether you have acid reflux or GERD, making a few lifestyle changes can help you control the uncomfortable symptoms. Lying down should be avoided for a few hours after eating, as this position makes it easier for acid to travel back into the esophagus.

Other helpful strategies include losing weight, avoiding tight clothes or tight belts, raising the head of your bed, and reducing or eliminating foods that may trigger acid reflux, such as fried or fatty foods, foods that contain acids, onion, chocolate, caffeine, garlic, and alcohol.

During your visit to the Houston gastroenterology office, your gastroenterologist can recommend medications that can decrease your symptoms. Proton pump inhibitors and H2 blockers lower the amount of acid your stomach makes, while prokinetic drugs improve the strength of the sphincter and help food pass through your stomach quickly.

Before prescribing or recommending medication, your doctor may want to perform an endoscopy, a test that uses a miniature camera to examine your esophagus and stomach.

Are you struggling with acid reflux? Call your gastroenterologist at Houston Digestive Disease in Houston, TX, at (713) 777-2555 to schedule your appointment.

April 05, 2021
Category: GI Care
Tags: Colonoscopy  

The doctors at Houston Digestive Diseases Consultants in Houston, TX, perform colonoscopies for patients concerned about colon cancer. Colonoscopies can save lives by identifying signs of cancer before you even experience symptoms!

What is a colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is a procedure that involves inserting a thin, flexible tube with a light and camera into the rectum to look into the rectum and colon. This procedure can identify cancer and precancerous polyps in the colon. Polyps can also be removed during a colonoscopy. We perform colonoscopies in Houston, TX, for patients with a family history of colon cancer or who are otherwise concerned about colon cancer.

A colonoscopy requires some preparation by the patient to empty the colon. A special diet a few days before including a liquid diet the day before prepares the colon. The patient is sedated during the procedure and should sleep through it without feeling discomfort. Colonoscopies are a more invasive type of cancer screening so they are not recommended often, but precancerous polyps can actually be removed during a colonoscopy and save your life.

Why is a colonoscopy important?

Colonoscopies are recommended every 10 years for those not at an elevated risk for colon cancer. Colon cancer affects an equal amount of men and women, but almost ninety percent of cases are in patients over the age of 50, so the recommended age for this screening is from 50-75. Based on your health and your family history, your doctor can tell you if you are at an elevated risk for colon cancer.

Colonoscopies can find signs of cancer before a patient is feeling any symptoms, which is why yearly cancer screenings are so important past a certain age. If you are at an elevated risk for colon cancer, your doctor will recommend being screened every year using different tests. If you are concerned about colon cancer, the doctors at Houston Digestive Diseases Consultants perform colonoscopies. Contact us for an appointment at our Houston, TX, locations at 713-777-2555, 713-796-8627, or 713-880-8707.

January 19, 2021
Category: GI Care
Tags: acid reflux  

Acid Reflux is when the digestive acids that sit in the stomach manage to leak through the sphincter at the top of the stomach, back into the esophagus. When this happens, individuals often feel burning sensations in their stomach, and sometimes the sensation is intense enough to interfere with digestion and appetite. The staff at Houston Digestive Diseases Consultants in Houston, TX, understands how troublesome these symptoms are and can help you get the treatment you need.

How Do I Treat Acid Reflux?

Some ways to treat acid reflux include:

Maintaining a healthy weight.

Those who are obese tend to have more instances of acid reflux because the extra mass pushes down on their stomach and forces the sphincter open.

Consuming smaller meals.

Overeating is another reason the sphincter of a person’s stomach stayed open. Eating smaller meals relieves the stress of having to digest a large meal and often results in more thorough assimilation and absorption.

Prescription medication.

Your primary doctor or specialist may give a prescription to neutralize the acid that builds in the stomach and irritates the lining of the esophagus.

Over the counter meds.

Many pharmacies carry products that soothe the burning. These meds can be in liquid or pill form.

Avoid wearing tight clothing.

Wearing garments with tight belts, shirts, and other kinds of clothing can impede the efficacy of your digestion and give you acid reflux. The good news is that acid reflux caused by this is easily fixed.

Quit smoking and drinking

Smoking relaxes the valve that keeps the chewed food into the stomach, thereby allowing the food to leak out. Alcohol is a known irritant that can make an uncomfortable situation worse.

The associates at Houston Digestive Diseases Consultants will be happy to relay any more details concerning treating acid reflux. If you have chronic heartburn in Houston, TX, and would like to set up an appointment for treatment, call us at 713-777-2555.

November 23, 2020
Category: GI Care
Tags: Celiac Disease   Diet  

You've been diagnosed with celiac disease - now what? You're understandably concerned about your diet and how you can prevent your immune system from responding to the presence of wheat, barley, and rye. At Houston Digestive Disease Consultants in Houston, Texas, our team of gastroenterologists is committed to helping their patients with celiac disease eat healthfully and comfortably. Below, basic dietary guidelines for people with celiac disease are discussed.

What can I safely eat?

There is a wide variety of products in grocery stores that are considered "gluten-alternative" with replacement ingredients, but your Houston gastroenterologist recommends that your priority should be to eat foods that are naturally gluten-free. Any type of fresh fish, meat or poultry, fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and beans are all naturally free of gluten. However, pre-packaged meals that contain these items may also have gluten. If you've never been much of a cook, now is a great time to adopt a new habit that also maintains your health.

But what about grains?

Many people newly diagnosed with celiac disease don't realize that they can still enjoy many of the common and not-so-common grain-based foods. Rice, corn, flax, and chia are all grains that do not cause inflammation in your small intestine. Flours made from nuts like almonds, walnuts, or pecans can be a good stand-in for traditional wheat flour. You can also try out lesser-known grains like amaranth, groats, cassava, or yucca, which can be found at specialty grocery stores.

Are there any hidden dangers?

Some people with CD have reported problems with gluten-alternative foods because they are processed on or near equipment that also processes wheat-based items. Cream-based soups and sauces often contain wheat as a thickening agent. Foods that contain malts, such as cereals and some alcoholic beverages, can also cause problems for those with CD. Your Houston gastroenterologist recommends checking labels to see if there is a warning about processing or contact the companies for more information.

To learn more about celiac disease, and to make an appointment, contact one of our gastroenterology offices in Houston. These include Memorial Hermann Southwest at (713) 777-2555, Smith Tower at (713) 796-8627, or Memorial Hermann Greater Heights at (713) 880-8707.

October 23, 2020
Category: GI Care
Tags: Colon Polyps  

Find out whether colon polyps need to be removed and what to expect from the procedure.

If you have colon polyps the good news is that they can easily be removed by one of our Houston, TX, gastroenterologists. Most colon polyps are benign but do have the ability to turn cancerous. This is why it’s important to have them removed. Since colon polyps rarely cause symptoms usually the only way to find out you have polyps is through a routine colonoscopy. Regular colonoscopies after you turn 50 years old are important for both men and women for detecting colon polyps and colorectal cancer.

What are the signs of colon polyps?

Many people don’t even know that they have colon polyps; however, sometimes they can cause signs such as,

  • Rectal bleeding
  • Black or red-colored stools
  • Bowel changes (e.g. persistent diarrhea or constipation)
  • Anemia
  • Abdominal pain and fullness

If you are dealing with abdominal pain or blood in the stool it’s important that you see your Houston, TX, gastroenterologist as soon as possible.

How are colon polyps treated?

It is important that polyps are removed, and the most common way to remove polyps is with a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy is a simple procedure in which our doctors insert a thin, flexible tube into the rectum and guide it carefully into the colon. From there, we can use special instruments to remove the polyp or polyps. Once the polyps are removed, we will test them for cancer.

Those who have had colon polyps in the past are more at risk for developing colorectal cancer and may want to talk with their doctors about coming in more often for routine colonoscopies.

Is there a way to prevent colon polyps?

There are things you can do to lessen your chances for developing polyps. Some of these preventive measures include,

  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet
  • Reducing red meat consumption
  • Avoiding or limiting alcohol
  • Quitting smoking
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Losing excess weight if overweight or obese
  • Getting regular physical activity

Making healthier life choices can go a long way to reducing your risk for both colon polyps and colorectal cancer.

Looking for a gastroenterologist in Houston, TX, that can provide you with routine colonoscopies and regular intestinal care? If so, call Houston Digestive Diseases Consultants to schedule your next appointment. Call (713) 777-2555 for the Memorial Hermann Southwest office, (713) 796-8627 for the Smith Tower office, or (713) 880-8707 for the Memorial Hermann Greater Heights office.

By Houston Digestive Diseases Consultants
October 07, 2020
Category: GI Care

Stomach pain is something we will all go through at some point. Luckily, stomach pain is usually caused by something minor like a food intolerance or an infection that goes away on its own. However, it might be time to see a qualified medical professional for your stomach pain if you are also dealing with,

Rectal bleeding

If you are noticing blood when you wipe, blood in the toilet or blood in your stool, then there is bleeding occurring somewhere within the gastrointestinal tract. Most of the time it’s from something minor like external or internal hemorrhoids or an anal fissure; however, if you notice persistent or heavy bleeding along with stomach pain this could be a sign of something more serious and it’s important to see your doctor right away.

Persistent Bowel Changes

While we will all experience diarrhea or constipation at some point, most of the time the problem will clear up on its own; however, recurring changes in bowel habits along with stomach pain may mean it’s time to see a gastroenterologist. These changes include,

  • Narrow stools
  • Blood in the stool
  • Black or pale stools
  • Bloody diarrhea (a sign of inflammatory bowel disease)
  • Diarrhea that lasts for more than a few days
  • Having less than three bowel movements a week

Stomach Pain is Getting Worse

If you are dealing with persistent stomach pain that is starting to radiate to other parts of the body like your back or shoulder, this could be a sign of a serious problem affecting your gallbladder or pancreas. If you are dealing with a condition that affects the pancreas you may also notice vomiting, a fast heartbeat, and tender stomach (but pain may be mild, at first).

Gallbladder attacks usually cause sudden and intense pain that may start at the upper center or right side of the abdomen and radiate to the back or even the shoulder. It’s important that you seek immediate medical attention if you are experiencing these symptoms.

Sudden Pain in the Lower Right Side

If you are experiencing abdominal pain in the lower right side that appeared suddenly and is only getting worse, it could be appendicitis. Some people also experience fever, nausea, vomiting, or abdominal swelling. Symptoms will appear rapidly and only get worse, so it’s important to call your gastroenterologist or seek emergency care.

If you’re experiencing persistent stomach pain or pain after eating it might be time to see a gastroenterologist find out what’s going on. Turn to the team at Houston Digestive Diseases Consultants by calling (713) 777-2555.