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Gastrointestinal (GI) Tips

Diarrhea

Dangerous Diarrhea
If diarrhea last longer than two days, produces severe abdominal cramps, causes extreme weakness, or contains blood, mucus or pus, you should see a doctor immediately.


Diarrhea Diet
Eat a clear liquid diet: broth, Jell-O, water, ginger ale, 7-Up. If tolerated, gradually introduce BRATTY: Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Tea, Toast and Yogurt.


Diarrhea, Antibiotics and Yogurt
Eating yogurt may help prevent diarrhea in people taking antibiotics. Live, active yogurt cultures -- especially acidophilus and bifida -- colonize the lower intestines with beneficial bacteria while muscling out disease-causing bacteria.


Fluid Replacement
Drink at least two quarts of fluid per day; more if you can. Gatorade is highly recommended to prevent dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.


Foods to Avoid
The following foods may worsen diarrhea: beans, any food from the cabbage family, bread, pasta, prunes and bran. Avoid them until diarrhea subsides.


Honey vs. Diarrhea
Adults can treat diarrhea effectively by giving a teaspoon or two of honey three to four times per day until diarrhea stops.
*** DO NOT GIVE HONEY TO INFANTS. IT CAN BE FATAL! ***


Lactose Intolerance
One of the biggest causes of diarrhea is lactose intolerance. Test yourself by eliminating milk products from your diet for a couple days. If your diarrhea stops, you're lactose intolerant.


Diverticular Disease

Complications of Diverticulosis
Complications of diverticulosis include:
* Bright red rectal bleeding with clots
* Diverticulitis


Diverticular Disease
Diverticulosis is a condition with pouch-like protrusions in the colon:
* Rare before age 30
* Common after age 60
* Usually no symptoms


Diverticulitis
Diverticulitis is a serious complication in which pouches become inflamed or infected.
Symptoms of diverticulitis include:
* Pain in left lower abdomen
* Fever
* Sudden change in bowel habit
See your doctor immediately if you have any of these symptoms.


Diverticulitis Treatment
Treatment of diverticulitis may include:
* Antibiotics
* Special feeding
* Surgery


Prevent and Manage Diverticulosis
Ways to prevent and manage diverticular disease include:
* Increasing dietary fiber to keep bowel movements soft
* Avoiding stimulant laxatives


GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease)

What Is GERD?
GERD stands for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. Gastroesophageal reflux describes a backflow of acid from the stomach into the swallowing tube or esophagus. Almost everyone experiences gastroesophageal reflux at some time. The usual symptom is heartburn, an uncomfortable burning sensation behind the breastbone, most commonly occurring after a meal. In some individuals this reflux is frequent or severe enough to cause more significant problems, that is a disease. Thus, gastroesophageal reflux disease is a clinical condition that occurs when reflux of stomach acid into the esophagus is severe enough to impact the patientís life and/or damage the esophagus.


GERD vs. Hiatal Hernia
Hiatal hernia refers to a slippage of the top portion of the stomach through the "hiatus" of the diaphragm and into the chest. This is a common condition that increases in frequency with age. It may or may not be associated with GERD (GastroEsophageal Reflux Disease). When GERD is severe enough to be complicated by erosive esophagitis, seen as breaks in the lining of the esophagus, a hiatal hernia is usually present. However, most patients with a hiatal hernia do not have GERD.


Heartburn Drug Now OTC
The popular heartburn medicine Prilosec is now available over-the-counter.
Unlike antacids such as Tums or acid reducers like Pepcid, Prilosec takes a few days to build up strength and inhibit acid. For instance, it's not ideally used after a spicy meal, but is instead recommended for a 14-day period for people who suffer frequent or persistent heartburn.


Worsening GERD Symptoms
The major factor is meals. Meals stimulate the stomach to produce more acid that can reflux up into the esophagus. In some patients, lying down or taking certain medications can worsen acid reflux.


IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)

IBS - Inflammatory Bowel Disease
IBS is characterized by abdominal pain associated with a change in bowel function and is relieved by defecation. The pain relates more to low pain threshold than to abnormalities in motility.


IBS and Stress
Sensitivity to pain and associated symptoms increase with stress. Chronic gastrointestinal inflammation in post-inflammatory IBS can be prolonged by emotional stress.


IBS vs. GI Motility Disorder
30% of IBS patients have generalized motility disorder that includes small bowel and gastric motor dysfunction.


Psychology and IBS
Psychological treatments (e.g., cognitive-behavioral therapy, hypnosis and relaxation) can lead to sustained improvement in IBS symptoms. When choosing a doctor, consider finding one with a PsyD in psychology.


The Latest on Lotronex
The government is allowing Lotronex, a once-popular drug for irritable bowel syndrome, back on the market, but with new restrictions aimed at mitigating side effects blamed for killing seven people. Lotronex may be prescribed only by certain doctors enrolled in a special program, and given only to the sickest patients -- fewer than five percent of sufferers -- who have failed other therapies.


Women and IBS
More than 2/3 of IBS sufferers are women and symptoms often worsen during menstruation.


Nausea and Vomiting

Acupressure Nausea Relief
To relieve nausea with acupressure, firmly and quickly massage the webbing between your thumb and index finger and/or the top of your foot between the tendons of the second and third toes for several minutes.


Anti-Nausea Drugs
Nausea and vomiting can be controlled with Coke syrup, Emetrol or Bonine, the only one safe for diabetics. Read the labels carefully.


Baking Soda as an Antacid
To use baking soda as an occasional antacid, mix 1/2 teaspoon in 4 ounces of water, and drink all at one time. It will cause you to 'burp', as it neutralizes stomach acid the same way it does other acids. DO NOT USE IF YOU ARE ON A LOW SODIUM DIET.


Chamomile Tea Eases GI Upset
Chamomile Tea:
For tasty and relief-giving chamomile tea, the Herb Research Foundation in Boulder, Colo., recommends the following ratio of chamomile to water: Steep one to two teaspoons of dried chamomile leaves, or one tablespoon of fresh leaves, in one cup of hot water for five to 10 minutes; sweeten as needed with honey; and drink in the morning and after dinner.


Cleaning Up Vomit
Dump baking soda onto acid spills/stains such as vomit (after you've picked up any solid matter). The baking soda will 'wick' the liquid up out of the carpet as well as neutralize the acid. Pick up the wet 'clumps' before vacuuming, though, or it will get clogged in the beater bar of your machine.


Clear Liquids
To prevent dehydration and electrolyte imbalance, replace fluids lost during vomiting with Gatorade, Pedialyte, clear broths, or bland juices like apple or cranberry.


Do Not Gulp
After vomiting it's vital to take fluids in small sips rather than large gulps. Drink no more than 1 to 2 ounces at a time or you may begin vomiting again.


Ginger Eases GI Upset
Ginger Tea:
Steep 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of dried gingerroot powder in one cup of hot water. Sweeten with honey and drink at night as a digestive aid, or prepare as needed to prevent motion sickness.

Fresh ginger is delicious and just as effective as the dried kind. Simmer three ľ-in. peeled slices of the root in one cup of water for 10 minutes, or to desired strength. Flavor with lemon and honey.

If you need immediate help on hand for your next trip to the amusement park, dried or candied ginger will do the trick. Also, don't forget about ginger ale.


Post-Vomiting Foods
Once you can hold down fluids, start out by eating Jell-O or other bland foods like unbuttered toast or crackers.


Relief from Nausea
Nausea can be relieved with flat, warm Coke, ginger ale, or 7-Up, and light carbohydrates such as toast or crackers.


Signs of Dehydration
Signs of dehydration are increased thirst, infrequent urination or dark yellow urine, dry mouth, eyes that appear sunken, and skin that has lost its normal elasticity.


Stomach Soother
Peppermint Tea
For a minty fresh herbal GI aid, the Herb Research Foundation in Boulder, Colo., recommends the following ratio of peppermint to water: Steep one to two teaspoons of dried peppermint leaves, or one tablespoon of fresh leaves, in one cup of hot water for five to 10 minutes; sweeten as needed with honey; and drink in the morning and after dinner.


Peptic Ulcer Disease

Cause of Ulcers
Bacterial infection is the most common cause of duodenal ulcers.


Drug Prevents Ulcers in Aspirin Takers
Giving a drug called a proton pump inhibitor (Prilosec, Prevacid, Nexium, etc.) can prevent stomach ulcers in people taking low-dose aspirin.


Ulcer Complications
Ulcers may hemorrhage (bleeding) into the gastrointestinal tract; this results in the passage of black ("tarry") stool. Very serious ulcer disease may also cause a blockage between the stomach and small intestine and this complication results in persistent vomiting. Severe pain results from the most urgent complication of ulcers - peritonitis caused by a tear through the wall of the stomach or duodenum.


Ulcer Symptoms
Upper abdominal pain is the most common symptom of ulcers, but many ulcers cause no symptoms at all.


Ulcer Treatment
Almost all ulcers can be treated successfully, usually without surgery. Many ulcers can be prevented.
Ulcer treatments include antibiotics, agents that neutralize gastric acid or reduce its secretion, and drugs that strengthen the resistance of the stomach and duodenum.


What Is an Ulcer?
Ulcers are "sores" that frequently affect the stomach and the first part of the small intestine (duodenum).


Ulcers and Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
Stomach ulcers are often a side effect of pain killers and anti-inflammatory drugs used primarily to treat arthritis.


Worsening Ulcer Symptoms
Alcohol ingestion, cigarette smoking and emotional stress may also influence the development of an ulcer or interfere with its healing.


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