October is Liver Cancer Awareness Month, making it a good time to talk about the symptoms and risk factors associated with liver cancer. Liver cancer incidence has more than tripled since 1980 with an estimated 33,000 patients diagnosed with liver cancer in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Liver cancer is also one of the most deadly cancers. Approximately 27,000 Americans die from the disease each year, making it the fifth most common cause of cancer death in men and the seventh most common cause of cancer death in women. A CDC study found that only 26% of liver cancer patients survived five years from diagnosis if the cancer had not spread beyond the liver. For those patients where it had spread, survival rates ranged from just 4% to 10%.
Who Is At Risk For Developing Liver Cancer?
There are a number of factors that increase the risk of primary liver cancer, which is cancer that begins in the liver rather than a cancer that spreads to the liver from another area of the body. These include:
- Viral Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C
- Genetic Metabolic Diseases
- Some Rare Diseases
- Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Heavy Alcohol Consumption
- Aflatoxins (long-term exposure to aflatoxins, which can form from fungal growth on nuts, soybeans, corn and rice)
While there are no guidelines for screening, many physicians will suggest regular evaluations for those at a high risk for developing liver cancer.
Signs & Symptoms of Liver Cancer
Unfortunately, the symptoms of primary liver cancer typically appear in the later stages of the disease, making early detection difficult. See your doctor if you notice any of the symptoms listed below:
- Unintentional weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Feeling of fullness with little food
- Nausea or vomiting
- Abdominal swelling
- Upper abdominal pain or near the right shoulder blade
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
- White, chalky stools
The earlier liver cancer treatment begins, the more likely it is to be beneficial. Although having one or more of the symptoms listed above may be caused by other conditions, it is important to schedule a checkup promptly for diagnosis.
Our Board-certified physicians have over 150 years of combined experience in providing quality care you can trust. To schedule an appointment, call (318) 631-9121 or click here.
For many people, liver health isn’t really on their radar. With 100 million Americans estimated to have Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) and rates of NAFLD doubling in children over the past 20 years according to the Liver Foundation, the condition needs to be on your mind.
About the size of a football, your liver filters everything you put into your body. Along with detoxifying your blood, the liver produces bile to help break down fat. It also produces, stores and releases glucose. The liver can usually take a lot of abuse before problems start to arise, but this also means serious damage can be done before you know your liver is in danger. Despite the liver’s resilience, you cannot live without one, which is why maintaining liver health is so important.
The earliest stage of liver disease is fatty liver. Although it is normal for the liver to contain some fat, you have a fatty liver when more than 5% to 10% of your liver weight is fat. It can be caused by excessive alcohol consumption or a wide range of conditions, such as obesity, metabolic syndrome, high cholesterol, diabetes, Hepatitis C and others. There is no medical treatment available for fatty liver. However, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic fatty liver are reversible with lifestyle changes.
Whether you have been diagnosed with fatty liver or you want to prevent it, here are 10 tips for keeping your liver in the best possible health.
1. Eat A Healthy Diet
Eat a nutritious, balanced, whole-foods diet. That means avoiding processed carbohydrates and sugars, and saturated fat and salt, as well as filling up on fresh fruit, vegetables, whole-grains, protein, dairy and healthy fats.
2. Avoid Weight Gain
Maintaining a healthy weight will help decrease your risk of developing fatty liver disease. A good rule of thumb is a body mass index in the normal range (18 to 25), but speak to your doctor for guidance on a healthy weight for your body type.
3. Get Regular Exercise
Exercise not only helps to keep you in shape, but it also burns triglycerides, which can reduce the amount of fat stored in liver cells.
4. Limit Your Alcohol Consumption
Watch how much you drink. The U.S. government guidelines recommend no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. Although, recent global studies suggest there are no safe levels of alcohol consumption.
5. Be Careful With Medications
Some prescription medications (like statins or steroids) can cause liver damage, while over-the-counter medications (such as acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can also cause liver damage if you take too much or if you drink alcohol while taking them. Always read the warning labels, and speak with your pharmacist if you have concerns.
6. Hepatitis Prevention
Learn how to prevent hepatitis, and get vaccinated. If you think you may have come in contact with the virus, get tested. There are several types of viral hepatitis that can cause liver disease.
7. Drink Coffee
Research shows that drinking coffee reduces your risk of liver disease. The protective benefits increase with each cup for up to four cups daily, regardless of whether you drink regular or decaf.
8. Avoid Toxins
Limit direct contact with toxins, such as cleaning products, insecticides and chemicals. Wear gloves when handling toxins, and wear a mask or ensure that you are in a well-ventilated area.
9. Consider Supplements Cautiously
Some dietary supplements can harm your liver. Conversely, some supplements claim to help restore liver health. Always discuss usage of supplements with your doctor, especially if you are on prescription medication.
10. Get Regular Checkups
Prevention is the key when it comes to liver disease, so take advantage of annual wellness exams. A simple blood test is often the first step to identifying liver disease even before any symptoms develop.
To schedule an appointment with GastroIntestinal Specialists, A.M.C. or to learn more about other GI conditions treated by GastroIntestinal Specialists, call (318) 631-9121 or click here.
August is Gastroparesis Awareness Month, making it a great time to talk about this condition that affects millions of people. Although the number of people with gastroparesis is rising according to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD), much of the population is unaware of the condition, and most cases of gastroparesis remain undiagnosed.
Gastroparesis is a condition that affects the normal, spontaneous contractions of the stomach that propel food through the digestive tract. In a healthy person, the contractions quickly move food through the stomach and into the small intestine. For patients with gastroparesis, the normal contractions are slowed or absent, preventing the stomach from emptying properly.
The cause of gastroparesis in the majority of patients is unknown. Although, there are a number of conditions, procedures and medications that may increase your risk for gastroparesis, including:
- Diabetes, particularly if poorly controlled
- Nerve damage from abdominal or esophageal surgery
- Viruses impacting the nerves of the stomach
- Other conditions such as neurological diseases, connective tissue disorders and hypothyroidism
- Medications that slow the rate of stomach emptying, including some allergy and high blood pressure medications, antidepressants, and narcotic pain relievers
When the stomach doesn’t empty properly, food and liquids stay in the stomach for prolonged periods of time. This can result in a range of symptoms that can greatly impair quality of life. The signs and symptoms of gastroparesis include:
- Early satiety (feeling full after consuming a very small amount of food)
- Lack of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Acid reflux
- Weight loss
- Blood sugar level changes
A potential complication from gastroparesis can occur when undigested food stays in the stomach and hardens into a solid mass. This mass is called a bezoar, which can be life-threatening if it prevents food from passing into the digestive tract.
The good news is that gastroparesis can be treated with lifestyle and dietary changes, by controlling blood sugar and with medication, if needed. Gastroparesis is diagnosed with the combination of an upper endoscopy and imaging studies in a gastric-emptying study. If you are experiencing symptoms of gastroparesis, are concerned about risk factors or have other gastrointestinal concerns, contact your doctor.
GastroIntestinal Specialists, A.M.C., treat multiple conditions and diseases of the GI tract. Our Board-Certified physicians have over 150 years of combined experience in providing quality care that you can trust. To schedule an appointment, call (318) 631-9121 or click here.
What is Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux is caused by the weakening of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The LES is a muscular ring located at the entrance of the stomach that opens and closes as food passes to the stomach. When weakened or damaged, the LES will remain open, causing stomach acids and other contents from the stomach to move back up through the esophagus. This is generally accompanied by a burning sensation in the chest and throat, called heartburn.
Heartburn is the most common symptom of acid reflux, but other symptoms may include:
- Dry cough
- Sore throat
- Difficulty swallowing
- Tightness in the throat
- Bitter taste in the throat and mouth
Acid reflux is non-discriminatory in that it affects people of all ages, sometimes for unknown reasons. While there are several risk factors that can be linked to acid reflux, the most common factor is eating a large meal. A large meal causes increased pressure in the stomach, which overpowers and consequently weakens the LES to cause reflux.
Other factors that weaken the LES and cause reflux are:
Lifestyle: pregnancy, smoking (nicotine), being overweight or obese, certain prescription medicines
Eating Habits: snacking close to bedtime, lying down within 2 to 3 hours of eating, overeating
Diet: alcohol, caffeine, diet low in fiber, fried or fatty foods, citrus fruits and juices, spicy foods, chocolate
Treating Acid Reflux with Diet and Lifestyle Changes
Knowing what foods and beverages trigger your acid reflux and eliminating them from your diet are key for controlling the condition. The foods you eat affect the amount of acid the stomach produces. Foods that can help reduce acid reflux symptoms include:
- Green vegetables
- Lean meats and seafood
- Oatmeal (great source of fiber)
- Healthy fats: avocados, nuts, olive oil
- Ginger: anti-inflammatory properties help ease heartburn symptoms
You can also manage symptoms with lifestyle changes.
Try these tips:
- Eat smaller portions, more often.
- Eat slower, and stop before you get too full.
- Wait 2 to 3 hours after eating before lying down.
- Drop a few extra pounds to ease pressure on the stomach.
- Avoid tight clothing or belts that can add extra pressure around your stomach.
In most circumstances, a change in lifestyle and diet with the assistance of over-the-counter medications, such as antacids, are all you need to control the symptoms of acid reflux. Antacids provide short-term relief by neutralizing stomach acid.
Occasional acid reflux is no cause for alarm. If you are experiencing acid reflux symptoms occurring twice a week or more, this may be indicative of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and you should consult your physician for an evaluation. GERD can lead to serious complications in the long-term, including an increased risk of cancer.
To schedule an appointment with GastroIntestinal Specialists, A.M.C. or to learn more about Acid Reflux (GERD) or other GI conditions treated by GastroIntestinal Specialists, call (318) 631-9121 or click here.
What are hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids, also known as piles, are enlarged blood vessels that swell and cause discomfort around the lower rectum or anus. They can be both painful and unpleasant. Roughly 10.4 million people in the U.S. are affected by hemorrhoids, with only 3.4 million seeking treatment. Hemorrhoids are nothing to be embarrassed of, and they are easily preventable and treatable. When left untreated, they can grow in both size and number over time.
What causes hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are the result of excessive strain in the rectum, which can be due to various factors. These factors include:
- Chronic Constipation
- Anal Intercourse
- Straining During Bowel Movements
- Low-Fiber Diets
- Sitting for Long Periods of Time
- Laxative or Enema Overuse
- Heavy Lifting
Self-help measures to help combat these factors and prevent hemorrhoids include adding more fiber to your diet, exercising, drinking 8 glasses of water a day, and remembering to take your time when using the restroom. DON’T STRAIN.
Types of Hemorrhoids
There are 4 types of hemorrhoids:
External Hemorrhoids – Form under the skin around the anus. Due to the location, they can cause extreme pain and discomfort.
Internal Hemorrhoids – Form in the lining of the anus and lower rectum; generally painless and invisible, and tend to heal over time.
Prolapsed Hemorrhoids – Internal hemorrhoids that begin to swell and stick out from the anus; can be extremely painful due to stress on nerve ending.
Thrombosed Hemorrhoids – External or internal hemorrhoids that have formed a clot; most noticeable in external hemorrhoids, creating a bluish color around the swollen extremity.
Hemorrhoids can be very painful, but not in all cases. Depending on the severity and type, you may experience the following symptoms or none at all.
- Rectal Bleeding
- Itchiness, Burning or Irritation
- Malodorous Bowel Movements
- Pain and Discomfort Around the Anus
Don’t wait to seek diagnosis and treatment. When caught early, hemorrhoids can be treated with noninvasive, quick, painless treatments.
For many, ointments and creams will only mask symptoms to provide temporary relief. They do not address the root of the problem that is causing the pain, itching, bleeding and overall discomfort.
The Louisiana Hemorrhoid Center, a division of GastroIntestinal Specialists, is now offering the CRH O’Regan System®, a simple, painless and effective way to treat hemorrhoids. 95% of hemorrhoids can be treated using this system. The sooner you seek treatment, the lower your chances are for surgery.
To schedule an appointment with Louisiana Hemorrhoid Center or to learn more about the CRH O’Regan System® and the GI conditions treated by GastroIntestinal Specialists, call (318) 631-9121 or click here.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), 10.4 million people in the U.S. suffer from hemorrhoids. Only 3.5 million people, or 1 in 3, seek medical treatment each year for their hemorrhoids. If left untreated, hemorrhoids can get progressively worse over time, growing in both size and number. The Hemorrhoid Center of Louisiana, a division of GastroIntestinal Specialists, is the largest and most trusted provider of non-surgical hemorrhoid treatment in the Shreveport-Bossier area. Treat your hemorrhoids with the latest banding technology and the most experienced doctors.
1. What is the Hemorrhoid Center of Louisiana?
A division of GIS, the largest and most experienced Gastroenterology Group in Northern Louisiana, LHC is dedicated to the non-surgical treatment of symptomatic internal hemorrhoids by trained providers.
2. What are hemorrhoids and what causes them?
Symptomatic hemorrhoids are swollen blood vessels inside the anal canal (internal hemorrhoids) or outside the anal canal (external hemorrhoids) caused by pressure on those blood vessels.
3. Who gets hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are very common. Generally speaking, over 50% of people over the age of 50 will experience hemorrhoid issues. In particular, Women who have had traditional childbirth often experience hemorrhoids. Symptomatic hemorrhoids result from several causes including straining with bowel movements (constipation), prolonged occupational sitting (i.e. truck drivers, secretaries, etc.) or extended toilet time.
4. What are the main symptoms of hemorrhoids?
Symptoms of internal hemorrhoids typically includes itching, swelling, bright red blood per rectum often described as blood dripping after a bowel movement or blood smeared on wiped toilet tissue. Internal hemorrhoids may protrude or cause seepage of stool (fecal incontinence).
5. Do hemorrhoids increase the risk of colorectal cancer?
No. But rectal bleeding may be an alarm symptom for colon or rectal cancer and should be investigated for at-risk individuals. Following updated guidelines from the American Cancer Society, screening for colon cancer begins at age 45.
6. Do I need hemorrhoid surgery?
With non-surgical banding and modification of some aggravating habits, most people will not need hemorrhoid surgery. Conservative measures like eating more fiber and drinking more water each day are recommended.
7. What is the CRH O’Regan System?
The CRH O’Regan System is only available to patients through specially trained medical providers. The procedure is effective and is performed in the office in less than 60 seconds. No sedation is needed. This method offers a significant advance in conventional rubber band ligation (RBL), a “surgical” procedure performed roughly 50 million times each year. Unlike other RBL techniques that use a metal clamp to grasp hemorrhoid during banding, the CRH O’Regan System uses a smaller plastic device and gentle suction, minimizing discomfort and complications. For patients having a colonoscopy, their first treatment can be completed during their procedure.
8. Does banding hurt? Will I have to miss work or other activities?
The new and improved method applies the band above (and away from) the nerve pain area rendering the procedure virtually painless. With no post-procedure pain, patients may immediately return to work or other activities after the 5 minute office procedure. A simple precaution is to avoid heavy lifting the day of the procedure. Full daily activity may be resumed the day following the procedure. The procedure is also covered by most insurance carriers.
GastroIntestinal Specialists, home of the Hemorrhoid Center of Louisiana, specializes in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases of the esophagus, stomach, small and large intestine, liver, pancreas and related organs. GastroIntestinal Specialists provides consultations in office locations in Shreveport, Bossier City and Minden. In addition to hemorrhoid treatment, they perform endoscopic procedures, including colonoscopy and upper GI endoscopy (EGD) and treatment of all types of gastroenterological conditions.
To schedule an appointment with the Hemorrhoid Center of Louisiana or to learn more about the CRH O’ Regan System and the GI conditions treated by GastroIntestinal Specialists call (318) 631-9121 or click here.
What is Hepatitis?
Hepatitis is a general term used to describe inflammation of the liver. The liver carries out many vital tasks, which include the distribution of nutrients within the bloodstream as well as filtering the blood of harmful waste and toxins. When the liver is inflamed, it is unable to do these tasks effectively. This can lead to complications, such as cirrhosis or liver cancer.
Hepatitis can be caused by a range of conditions, such as autoimmune disease, excessive alcohol and drug usage, or by the Hepatitis virus. Viral Hepatitis is often the main cause of hepatitis, with Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C being the most common in the United States. Though Hepatitis A, B and C share similar symptoms, they are caused by different factors. Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B are both vaccine-preventable, unlike Hepatitis C.
- Hepatitis A is transmitted person-to-person through fecal-oral route or consumption of contaminated food.
- Hepatitis B is transmitted through contact with infectious blood, semen and other bodily fluids.
- Hepatitis C is transmitted through contact with infectious blood.
(For more information on the difference between Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/abc/index.htm )
The CDC estimates that there are over 2.4 million people in the United States living with the Hepatitis C virus, with only 50% of those infected aware of their condition. Hepatitis C, when left untreated, can lead to severe liver damage. It is a leading cause of liver transplants and liver cancer. The disease can be devoid of symptoms for years, making it very difficult to detect early. Symptoms usually present themselves once the disease has progressed into developing liver problems.
Hepatitis C symptoms may include:
- Loss of Appetite
- Joint Pain
- Dark-Colored Urine
The only way to know for sure if you have been infected is to get tested. This can be done by taking a simple blood test.
Who Should Get Tested for Hepatitis C?
Approximately 75% of people living with Hepatitis C were born between 1945 and 1965, the Baby Boomers generation. Adults born between these years are five times more likely to be infected and account for 73% of all deaths associated with the disease. The CDC recommends those born between those years to get tested. Other individuals at risk include:
- Intravenous and intranasal drug users
- HIV-infected persons
- Recipients of blood transfusions or organ donations prior to June 1992
- Infants of HCV-infected mothers
Hepatitis C Treatment
Though there is not yet a vaccine available for Hepatitis C, there is a cure. Treatment has drastically improved through the years with new medicines now having fewer side effects and shorter treatment periods. New, direct-acting antiviral drugs (DAAs) have shown through research to be highly effective in curing patients with a 95% to 100% cure rate.
Treatments that can cure this disease are available at GastroIntestinal Specialists. The Liver Center at GastroIntestinal Specialists, A.M.C., is the No. 2 prescriber of hepatitis medicine in the country. Our comprehensive team of providers is dedicated to evaluating, treating and caring for patients with Hepatitis C, along with many other liver conditions.
Get Tested. Get Treated.
Call (318) 631-9121 to make an appointment.
According to the American Cancer Society, esophageal cancer affects approximately 17,000 people annually in the United States. The disease is commonly diagnosed in older adults, occurring four times as often in men than in women. Though rare (accounting for only 1% of cancers diagnosed in the U.S.), esophageal cancer is among one of the deadliest forms of cancer. This is largely due to the fact that it is too often caught in the late stages. Early detection is the key to a successful outcome. This starts by knowing the risk factors, and early signs and symptoms, associated with the disease.
What is Esophageal Cancer?
Esophageal cancer can develop anywhere along the length of the esophagus, a narrow muscular tube that transports food and liquid from the mouth to the stomach. There are two types of esophageal cancer: Adenocarcinoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma. Both are titled after the type of cells that grow into cancer.
• Adenocarcinoma is usually the result of ongoing reflux disease. This form of esophageal cancer is generally found near the lower part of the esophagus near the stomach. Adenocarcinoma is more common in the western world, and it is rapidly increasing in number of diagnoses.
• Squamous cell carcinoma is largely caused by heavy alcohol consumption and tobacco use. This form of esophageal cancer is generally found near the upper and middle part of the esophagus.
Risk Factors, Signs and Symptoms
Esophageal cancer doesn’t usually exhibit any signs or symptoms in the early stages. Knowing the risk factors is key in early detection and prevention.
Risk factors include:
- Tobacco use
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Older Age
- Male Gender
- Barrett’s esophagus
- On-going acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Obesity – There is a strong correlation between countries with high rates of esophageal cancer and high rates of obesity.
Signs and symptoms may include:
- Painful or difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
- Indigestion and heartburn
- Unexplained Weight loss
- Chest pain
- Hoarseness or coughing
Esophageal cancer is typically diagnosed after patients have experienced prolonged signs and symptoms. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or are concerned about risk factors that may affect you, contact your doctor.
At GastroIntestinal Specialists, A.M.C., our Board-Certified physicians treat multiple conditions and diseases affecting the GI tract from the esophagus, stomach, small and large intestines, liver, pancreas and rectum, as well as cancer screenings. With over 150 years of combined experience, you can trust us to provide quality care with a gentle touch
The Hemorrhoid Center of Louisiana, a division of GastroIntestinal Specialists, is now offering the CRH O’Regan System®. A simple, painless and effective way to treat hemorrhoids!
Hemorrhoids are nothing to be embarrassed about – in fact, about 50% of the population will suffer from them by the age of 50.
For many, ointments and creams will only mask symptoms to provide temporary relief. They do not address the root of the problem that is causing the pain, itching, bleeding, and overall discomfort.
If you’re serious about getting rid of hemorrhoids once and for all, it’s time to consider a definitive treatment.
The CRH O’Regan System®
The CRH O’Regan System® offers patients a painless, proven effective solution to the problems associated with hemorrhoids through a unique take on a procedure called hemorrhoid banding, or rubber band ligation.
Much less invasive than a surgical hemorrhoidectomy, hemorrhoid banding with the CRH O’Regan System®, is a simple treatment that can be performed in just minutes with little to no discomfort. There isn’t any prep or sedation and most patients are even able to return to work the same day.
How it Works
Gentle suction is used to place a small rubber band at the base of the hemorrhoid in an area where there aren’t any nerve endings. This only takes about 60 seconds. After a few days, the hemorrhoid will begin to shrink and fall off – you probably won’t even notice when it does!
Watch a video to learn more about the CRH O’Regan System®
To read more about how the CRH O’Regan System® can take care of your hemorrhoids once and for all, visit their website at www.crhsystem.com and call the Hemorrhoid Center of Louisiana at (318) 631-9121 to schedule an appointment and get back to living a more comfortable life!
GastroIntestinal Specialist is please to announce the addition of the FilmArray® Gastrointestinal (GI) panel. The FilmArray panel tests for common GI pathogens including viruses, bacteria and parasites that cause infectious diarrhea. Symptoms of chronic diarrhea include:
- Watery stools for more than 4 weeks
- Abdominal cramps and pain
- Nausea, vomiting or both
- Occasional muscle aches or headache
- Low-grade fever
1 test. 22 GI pathogens. Faster Results.
GI Panel Menu
- Campylobacter (jejuni, coli, and upsaliensis)
- Clostridium difficile (toxin A/B)
- Plesiomonas shigelloides
- Yersinia enterocolitica
- Vibrio (parahaemolyticus, vulnificus, and cholerae)
- Vibrio cholerae
DIARRHEAGENIC E. COLI/SHIGELLA:
- Enteroaggregative E. coli (EAEC)
- Enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC)
- Enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC) lt/st
- Shiga-like toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) stx1/stx2
- E. coli O157
- Shigella/Enteroinvasive E. coli (EIEC)
- Cyclospora cayetanensis
- Entamoeba histolytica
- Giardia lamblia
- Adenovirus F40/41
- Norovirus GI/GII
- Rotavirus A
- Sapovirus (I, II, IV, and V)