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'Gastroenterology' posts

How to deal with acute or chronic diarrhea

Diarrhea is described as loose watery stools sometimes with increase in frequency requiring frequent trips to the toilet.  In most cases diarrhea symptoms usually last for a few days, but if the symptoms occur for more than the 30 days it can be a sign of a serious disorder. 

Diarrhea occurs when the food and fluids you ingest pass too quickly through your colon.  Diarrhea can be classified into acute or chronic and its symptoms can be classified as uncomplicated and complicated.  Uncomplicated symptoms of diarrhea are abdominal cramping/bloating, thin loose watery stools, and the sense of urgency to have a bowel movements.  Symptoms of complicated diarrhea include blood or undigested food in the stool, weight loss and fever.  If you have symptoms of complicated diarrhea you need to notify your primary care provider for further evaluation.

No “window of opportunity” for celiac disease prevention

As a pediatric gastroenterologist, I’m often asked whether there is any way to prevent a child from developing celiac disease. Based on what I knew regarding how food allergies develop, I used to counsel families that there might be a “window of opportunity”, between four and six months, when it’s possible to introduce grains and other gluten-containing foods that could potentially “teach” the immune system to tolerate gluten and thus lower the risk of developing celiac disease.

However, my “window theory” recently got thrown out the window when the results of two important scientific studies were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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:

How to deal with gas and bloating

We all have occasional gas, usually from something we have eaten, but many people feel that they pass too much gas or burp too frequently. Intestinal gas can result in abdominal pain, bloating and embarrassment.
 
The amount of gas produced by the body depends upon your diet and other factors. Most people with symptoms of excessive gas do not produce more gas than the average person, but are more aware of normal amounts of gas.
 
Where does the gas come from?

Kids and lactose intolerance

Do you wonder if your child might have “lactose intolerance”?    Have you ever thought of removing dairy from your child’s diet?  If the answer to either of these questions is yes, here are a few things to remember when it comes to lactose intolerance in kids:

  • Lactose is broken down by lactase.

While lactose is the carbohydrate (sugar) found in milk, lactase is the enzyme that digests the sugar. This enzyme is found in the lining of the small intestine, breaks down lactose into simpler molecules that are easier to absorb.  When there isn’t enough lactase, the sugar isn’t properly absorbed, which leads to the symptoms of “intolerance”, which include gas, bloating, pain and diarrhea.

  • True lactose intolerance is rare in young children.

Although children as young as infants can “transiently” have less lactase in their digestive tracts (most often, this happens for a week or two after an infection), lactase production remains ...

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