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Getting help when you don’t know what to do about your symptoms

Debra Cadiente, RN,BC

Debra Cadiente, RN,BC
Nurse Navigator, Swedish Digestive Health Network

When you’re not feeling well, sometimes it’s hard to know where to turn. As the Nurse Navigator with Swedish Digestive Health Network, I get these calls every day.  Below are a few tips to help you advocate for yourself if you are not feeling well. (Remember to first and foremost get established with a primary care doctor before you become ill!)

1. If you’re not feeling well:

Tips for parents dealing with toddler’s diarrhea

Uma Pisharody, MD, FAAP

Uma Pisharody, MD, FAAP
Pediatric Gastroenterologist

Toddlerhood is a time when children are going through a lot of changes.  Children enter pre-school, toilet-training begins, diets change, and sometimes stooling patterns become different as well.  The latter issue often leads to parental worry.   One of the most common changes that parents of toddlers bring up during visits with me is that their toddler’s stools seem very loose or watery (“diarrhea”).  More often than not, the diagnosis ends up being “toddler’s diarrhea”, a harmless type of diarrhea that generally starts after a child is weaned.  (Other names for this condition include “functional diarrhea of childhood” or “chronic non-specific diarrhea of childhood”.)

Toddler’s diarrhea occurs due to a relative immaturity of the intestinal tract of young children.  Relatively speaking, sugars and some fluid get poorly absorbed.  The stools often contain undigested food particles (carrots and corn being the most commonly noticed).  The key differentiating factor that sets toddler’s diarrhea apart from other causes of diarrhea at this age is that except for loose stools, there are no other symptoms.  There is no malabsorption of nutrients, so children with toddler’s diarrhea have normal growth and weight gain.  Otherwise, they are perfectly healthy.  There won’t be anything abnormal found during their physical exam.  Tests are not generally needed, because those, too, will be normal.

Even though toddler’s diarrhea resolves on its own, I often tell families to follow the “4 Fs” as a guide to treatment:

Pediatric Experts Voice Concern Over Feeding Children Rice

Uma Pisharody, MD, FAAP

Uma Pisharody, MD, FAAP
Pediatric Gastroenterologist

A recent consensus statement written by international pediatric nutrition experts has recommended that infants and young children avoid rice-based drinks.  This is due to the fact that some types of rice contain large concentrations of inorganic arsenic, a first-level carcinogen.  There is no safe level of intake, because any exposure is risky.  The longer the exposure to inorganic arsenic, the more toxic its effects.

The newly published report reminds us that rice and derived products such as starch, flour and syrup are used to fortify different foods, including drinks, purees, and snacks.  These are foods often fed to infants and young children.  Since most of the inorganic arsenic in rice is concentrated in the outer bran layers, the report also highlights that potentially, the most harmful type of exposure is that which comes from products manufactured from brown rice.  

To reduce the harmful effects from arsenic exposure in rice-based foods, experts recommend the following:

FDA Questions Safety of Constipation Medication

Uma Pisharody, MD, FAAP

Uma Pisharody, MD, FAAP
Pediatric Gastroenterologist

On Monday the New York Times published an article about the FDA’s plan to research the safety of a very commonly prescribed medication, polyethylene glycol 3350 or PEG 3350 (most commonly known under the brand name, MiraLAX®).  As a pediatric gastroenterologist who often recommends this medication, I wanted to share my personal thoughts after reading the article.

First of all, although the news was certainly a surprise to me, it was a pleasant one. I was ...

No “window of opportunity” for celiac disease prevention

Uma Pisharody, MD, FAAP

Uma Pisharody, MD, FAAP
Pediatric Gastroenterologist

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

LuLu Iles-Shih, MD

LuLu Iles-Shih, MD
Gastroenterologist

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 ...

How to deal with gas and bloating

Margaret Gorham, ARNP
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?
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