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Over the counter medications to avoid for gastrointestinal health

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are medications frequently used to treat general aches and pains like headaches, musculoskeletal, and joint pains. NSAIDs include Celebrex, Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Excedrin, Alleve, Advil, Diclofenac, and Naproxen.

However, these medications may cause harm to the gastrointestinal system: possible bleeding risks, ulcer formation, ischemia, or decreased blood flow to certain areas of the gastrointestinal system which can lead to increased bleeding, vomiting of blood, or blood in the stool. These medications should be ...

A patient's experience with the Swedish Digestive Health Network

We recently received this post from a patient who asked us to share her story and her experiences with Dr. Schembre and Dr. Tschirhart with the Swedish Digestive Health Network. Thank you, Yevette, for sharing your story with us!

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Dec 2nd,  2012 I was out of town doing some promotion for work when I collapsed in my hotel room. I went to the local hospital ER.  They found I had a gallstone lodged in my common bile duct. As they attempted to remove this, the surgeon ripped my intestine.  This created a whole host of life threatening problems. After 5 days I was airlifted to Swedish Medical Center in Seattle.  Dr. Tschirhart was assigned my case.  By June I was stable enough for surgery.  Dr. Schembre referred to this surgery as a “Leap of Faith”. There was a team of 4 surgeons involved in this surgery.  Their concern that I may not survive was apparent. I actually said goodbye to my 17 year old daughter before this surgery.  After having me in surgery for only a few minutes he told my family that he didn’t think there was anything he could do for me & that my insides look like paper mache and were very fragile. But he never gave up.  I ended up with 9 different drainage tubes in my abdomen along with a J tune, G tube, every tube possible I think.  When I drank, the fluid would go in and then come out several of the tubes.  Dr. Schembre from GI worked with Dr. Tschirhart to help make my treatment plans. In October I was in a better situation to endure another surgery. Dr. Tschirhart explained exactly what needed to be done & explained the “Best Case Scenario” that he hoped he could perform. Fortunately he was able to achieve what he set out to do.   I ended up with 3 major surgeries and countless procedures.

Finally in December of 2013 they wanted me to go to rehab but I insisted on recovering at home in Marysville. I felt if there was a chance I was not going to make it I wanted to die at home.  Dr. Tschirhart assured me that if I had trouble and had to go to my local hospital he would have me airlifted immediately back to Swedish. As soon as I got home and on my couch I felt better!  I was discharged Dec 18, 2013 after a total of 381 days in the hospital.

Recently (August of 2014) I was able to return to work and can drive too!  I did have trouble this past April when my side split open and went into Swedish ER.  I commented to my friend that I needed to call Dr. Tschirhart so he could come get me.  The intake gal overheard me and said doctors never do that.  I tried to tell her that Dr. Tschirhart would. The ER was trying to gather info as to what had happened to me. My situation is too much to explain so I kept referring them to my file.  I was very frustrated. As they were questioning me I saw this hand come through the door and slowly he walked in. There he was!  I instantly started crying. He immediately had me transferred up to the 10th floor, order CT, medication etc.  He came for me as promised. I knew he would.
 

Dr. Tshirhart always told me  ....

What you can do about nonalcoholic fatty liver disease

Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) is a term used to describe the presence of fat accumulation in the liver. NAFLD affects approximately 20-30% of United States population, and is most commonly diagnosed between 40 – 50 years of age. Recent studies have shown an even distribution of NAFLD between men and women.
 
A healthy liver may contain some fat. However, NAFLD occurs when the liver has trouble breaking down fats, causing excess fat to build-up in the liver. Mild fat accumulation usually does not result in inflammation of the liver. More severe fat accumulation can cause inflammation, and potential progression to cirrhosis (scarring of liver tissue). People who drink too much alcohol can get a condition similar to NAFLD, but NAFLD happens in people who do not drink alcohol or only a little alcohol.
 
We still have much to learn about the specific cause of NAFLD, but it is often associated with:

Living with achalasia like Seahawk Malcolm Smith

On February 3, 2014, Yahoo Sports published an article regarding this years’ Super Bowl MVP, Malcolm Smith, as not only achieving recognition for his Super Bowl performance, but also dealing with a rare swallowing disorder known as achalasia.
 
Achalasia is a rare disorder with a prevalence of 10 cases per 100,000 individuals.  Men and women are equally affected and it is usually diagnosed between the ages of 25 to 60 years.  The disease often comes on slowly and is gradually progressive with problems swallowing solids and liquids, and movement of undigested food particles back up into the mouth unintentionally (bland regurgitation).  Patients also often complain of a burning chest sensation. Other symptoms include hiccups, difficulties belching, and sometimes weight loss.

The condition can be seen with radiology studies including a barium esophagram that shows a dilated, or larger than normal, caliber of the esophagus with a narrowing or tightness at the lower esophageal sphincter. The lower esophageal sphincter is located at the end of the esophagus before it enters the stomach.  An upper endoscopy or camera study is often performed to evaluate the esophagus and stomach closely.  It is ultimately diagnosed with high-resolution esophageal manometry, which is a technique for evaluating esophageal motor dysfunction or movement disorders of the esophagus.

Once achalasia is diagnosed, there are different treatment options ...

Technology can assist in diagnosis of heartburn, acid reflux and GERD

You may frequently interchange the terms heartburn, acid reflux and GERD, but it’s important to know if your heartburn is chronic and recurring.  Heartburn is a symptom we experience when acid from the stomach passes up through the esophageal sphincter into the esophagus, known as acid reflux.  For some people this can be acid that passes only a few inches up the esophagus or all the way to the mouth.  When acid from your stomach comes up as high as your mouth, you run the risk of aspiration (when fluids either going down to your stomach or coming up from your stomach enters your trachea and into your lungs). 

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is described as severe or chronic acid reflux. Severe means that it happens when we have had a change in our body, like a pregnancy that causes pressure on our stomach forcing stomach content up into the esophagus. Chronic may mean there is a mechanical problem like a weak esophageal sphincter or a hiatal hernia that allows leakage into the esophagus. 

Whether intermittent, severe or chronic, acid reflux can feel miserable if it is not controlled and it can also cause cancer. We all suffer from heartburn from time to time, but when heartburn happens regularly or does not resolve with lifestyle or diet changes you may need to seek the assistance of a physician who can help you resolve it. Thankfully over the last 20 years, physicians’ ability to diagnose and treat these conditions has benefited by some excellent technology.

The first step to ...

Swedish Digestive Health Network – call 1-855-411-MYGI (6944)

In the fall of 2011, Swedish opened the largest, most advanced endoscopy center in the Pacific Northwest. This state-of-the-art unit serves as the procedural space for a broad range of minimally invasive cases performed by gastroenterologists, colorectal specialists, thoracic and bariatric surgeons and pulmonologists on patients with a broad range of digestive and respiratory diseases.  As we celebrated this accomplishment, we were reminded of the complexity of digestive disease and that many times, patients and possibly even referring physicians aren’t sure of what type of specialist is best suited to a particular digestive problem.

There is nothing more distressing as a health care professional than hearing patient horror stories about trying to access care. A chronic illness can cause depression and discouragement; an acute illness or a cancer diagnosis can overwhelm the patient and the patient’s family with plenty of unknowns. 

To address these challenges, a group of 50+ specialists came together and created the Swedish Digestive Health Network.

The Swedish Digestive Health Network focuses on collaboration to ease the way for ...

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