Archive for the 'Gastrointestinal Disorders' Category

New blood test for irritable bowel syndrome on the horizon

Woman examining bloodThere is a new a blood test to aid in the diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome, but the test’s accuracy is far from perfect.  The sensitivity of the test was only 50% with specificity of 88%.   In other words, if you have irritable bowel syndrome, the test will detect it 50% of the time.  The blood test is still in early-stage development, even though Prometheus Laboratories in San Diego is already offering it clinically.

via Bruce Neri, Ph.D., of Prometheus Laboratories in San Diego, American College of Gastroenterology meeting, October 2008 
via MedPage Today, October 2008

Wheezing can be due to reflux (GERD)

Child and a womanPeople of all ages can have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and it can be the cause of wheezing, rather than asthma.  A new study from Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington confirms the growing body of literature surrounding reflux as a cause for wheezing. 

Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) occurs when the sphinctor between the esophagus and stomach either relaxes inappropriately or is weak. This allows stomach juices to back up, or reflux, into the esophagus, creating heartburn. When the stomach fluid backs up into the esophagus and overflows into the breathing tubes, this can result in airway blockage which can lead to wheezing that can be misdiagnosed as asthma.  Wheezing from GERD often occurs at night when a person is lying down.  

When asthma-medication doesn’t resolve the wheezing, the question of potential underlying GERD should always be raised.  

The symptoms of GERD include one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Heartburn, chest pain Frequent or constant heartburn is the most common symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).  When refluxed stomach acid touches the lining of the esophagus it may cause a burning sensation in the chest or throat called heartburn or acid indigestion. Heartburn is a common condition experienced by millions of Americans. Anyone experiencing heartburn twice a week or more may have GERD. An occasional episode can be insignificant, but regular episodes of heartburn can be a sign of a serious problem and deserves medical attention.  The burning and pressure symptoms of heartburn can last for several hours and often worsen after eating food. Many people describe their symptoms as burning discomfort which is localized behind the breastbone.  You can actually have GERD without having heartburn.
  • Bitter or sour taste of acid in the back of the throat especially when bending over or lying down. This can occur due to acid reflux which can be tasted in the back of the mouth.
  • Throat symptoms: persistent sore throat, burning of the throat, chronic hoarseness, excessive clearing of the throat, problems swallowing, or a feeling of a lump in the throat
  • Lung or airway symptoms: chronic cough or asthma (Lung problems can develop when reflux causes stomach fluid to overflow into the breathing tubes. This often occurs at night when a person is lying down and may cause wheezing, bronchitis and pneumonia.)

Persistent reflux that occurs more than twice a week is considered GERD.  The condition is treatable and most people find relief if they follow a consistent plan, but it is important to see your doctor or health care provider for diagnosis, treatment, and to rule out a more serious underlying condition.  Ignoring persistent heartburn symptoms can lead to severe consequences, even cancer. 

via Bay Area Medical Information, Reflux–GERD
via MedPage Today, October 7, 2008
via Medline Plus, GERD,
 

Nuts and corn might be harmless in diverticular disease

PeanutsA new study of nearly 48,000 men found no truth to the commonly held belief that people with diverticular disease should avoid eating nuts, corn, and popcorn.   

It is commonly recommended that patients with diverticular disease avoid eating these foods because they are believed to increase the risk for complications by damaging the intestinal mucosa or by lodging in the diverticula, according to the researchers. However, there is little evidence to support this, the researchers say, and these recommendations should be reconsidered.  

If you have diverticular disease, and have been avoiding these foods, ask your doctor before adding them back into your diet.

via Strate L, et al “Nut, corn, and popcorn consumption and the incidence of diverticular disease” JAMA 2008; 300: 907-914.

via MedPage Today, August 26, 2008