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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

16 Apr

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What is IBS?
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a group of symptoms that occur together, including repeated pain in your abdomen and changes in your bowel movements, which may be diarrhea, constipation, or both. With IBS, you have these symptoms without any visible signs of damage or disease in your digestive tract.

IBS is a functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorder. Functional GI disorders, which doctors now call disorders of gut-brain interactions, are related to problems with how your brain and your gut work together. These problems can cause your gut to be more sensitive and change how the muscles in your bowel contract. If your gut is more sensitive, you may feel more abdominal pain and bloating. Changes in how the muscles in your bowel contract lead to diarrhea, constipation, or both.

What are the symptoms of IBS?
The most common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are pain in your abdomen, often related to your bowel movements, and changes in your bowel movements. These changes may be diarrhea, constipation, or both, depending on what type of IBS you have. Other symptoms of IBS may include bloating, the feeling that you haven’t finished a bowel movement. IBS can be painful but doesn’t lead to other health problems or damage your digestive tract. To diagnose IBS, your doctor will look for a certain pattern in your symptoms over time. IBS is a chronic disorder, meaning it lasts a long time, often years. However, the symptoms may come and go.

What causes IBS?
Doctors aren’t sure what causes IBS. Experts think that a combination of problems may lead to IBS. Different factors may cause IBS in different people. Functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorders such as IBS are problems with brain-gut interaction—how your brain and gut work together. Experts think that problems with brain-gut interaction may affect how your body works and cause IBS symptoms. For example, in some people with IBS, food may move too slowly or too quickly through the digestive tract, causing changes in bowel movements. Some people with IBS may feel pain when a normal amount of gas or stool is in the gut.

How do doctors treat IBS?
Doctors may treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) by recommending changes in what you eat and other lifestyle changes, medicines, probiotics, and mental health therapies. Your doctor can help you find the right treatment plan.

Changes in what you eat may help treat your symptoms. Your doctor may recommend trying one of the following changes:

• Eat more fiber

• Avoid gluten

Article Published from: MedlinePlus

Stomach Disorders

9 Apr

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Your stomach is an organ between your esophagus and small intestine. It is where digestion of protein begins. The stomach has three tasks. It stores swallowed food. It mixes the food with stomach acids. Then it sends the mixture on to the small intestine.

Most people have a problem with their stomach at one time or another. Indigestion and heartburn are common problems. You can relieve some stomach problems with over-the-counter medicines and lifestyle changes, such as avoiding fatty foods or eating more slowly. Other problems like peptic ulcers or GERD require medical attention.

You should see a doctor if you have the following:

• Blood when you have a bowel movement

• Severe abdominal pain

• Unintended weight loss

• Ongoing vomiting or diarrhea

NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

National IBS Awareness Month

2 Apr

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Did you know April is National IBS Awareness Month? 

This month HAWA wants to educate you on a few common digestive issues like IBS and acid reflux, while teaching you how to prevent and treat them. 

Acid Reflux (GER) happens when your stomach contents come back up into your esophagus causing heartburn. You can prevent or relieve your symptoms from acid reflux by changing your diet. 

Avoid eating or drinking the following items that may make GER or GERD worse:

• Chocolate
• Coffee
• Peppermint
• Greasy or spicy foods

What Should I Do If I Can’t Sleep

26 Mar

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It’s important to practice good sleep hygiene, but if your sleep problems persist or if they interfere with how you feel or function during the day, you should seek evaluation and treatment by a physician, preferably one familiar with assessing and treating sleep disorders. Before visiting your physician, keep a diary of your sleep habits for about ten days to discuss at the visit.

Include the following in your sleep diary, when you —

• Go to bed.
• Go to sleep.
• Wake up.
• Get out of bed.
• Take naps.
• Exercise.
• Consume alcohol.
• Consume caffeinated beverages.

Content source: National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Population Health

Tips for Better Sleep

19 Mar

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Good sleep habits (sometimes referred to as “sleep hygiene”) can help you get a good night’s sleep. Some habits that can improve your sleep health:

• Be consistent. Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning, including on the weekends

• Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature

• Remove electronic devices, such as TVs, computers, and smart phones, from the bedroom

• Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime

• Get some exercise. Being physically active during the day can help you fall asleep more easily at night.

Content source: National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Population Health

Key Sleep Disorders

12 Mar

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Sleep-related difficulties affect many people. The following is a description of some of the major sleep disorders. If you, or someone you know, is experiencing any of the following, it is important to receive an evaluation by a healthcare provider or, if necessary, a provider specializing in sleep medicine.

Insomnia
Insomnia is characterized by an inability to initiate or maintain sleep. It may also take the form of early morning awakening in which the individual awakens several hours early and is unable to resume sleeping. Difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep may often manifest itself as excessive daytime sleepiness, which characteristically results in functional impairment throughout the day. Before arriving at a diagnosis of primary insomnia, the healthcare provider will rule out other potential causes, such as other sleep disorders, side effects of medications, substance abuse, depression, or other previously undetected illness. Chronic psychophysiological insomnia (or “learned” or “conditioned” insomnia) may result from a stressor combined with fear of being unable to sleep. Individuals with this condition may sleep better when not in their own beds. Health care providers may treat chronic insomnia with a combination of sedative-hypnotic or sedating antidepressant medications, along with behavioral techniques to promote regular sleep.

Narcolepsy
Excessive daytime sleepiness (including episodes of irresistible sleepiness) combined with sudden muscle weakness, are the hallmark signs of narcolepsy. The sudden muscle weakness seen in narcolepsy may be elicited by strong emotion or surprise. Episodes of narcolepsy have been described as “sleep attacks” and may occur in unusual circumstances, such as walking and other forms of physical activity. The healthcare provider may treat narcolepsy with stimulant medications combined with behavioral interventions, such as regularly scheduled naps, to minimize the potential disruptiveness of narcolepsy on the individual’s life.

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)
RLS is characterized by an unpleasant “creeping” sensation, often feeling like it is originating in the lower legs, but often associated with aches and pains throughout the legs. This often causes difficulty initiating sleep and is relieved by movement of the leg, such as walking or kicking. Abnormalities in the neurotransmitter dopamine have often been associated with RLS. Healthcare providers often combine a medication to help correct the underlying dopamine abnormality along with a medicine to promote sleep continuity in the treatment of RLS.

Sleep Apnea
Snoring may be more than just an annoying habit – it may be a sign of sleep apnea. Persons with sleep apnea characteristically make periodic gasping or “snorting” noises, during which their sleep is momentarily interrupted. Those with sleep apnea may also experience excessive daytime sleepiness, as their sleep is commonly interrupted and may not feel restorative. Treatment of sleep apnea is dependent on its cause. If other medical problems are present, such as congestive heart failure or nasal obstruction, sleep apnea may resolve with treatment of these conditions. Gentle air pressure administered during sleep (typically in the form of a nasal continuous positive airway pressure device) may also be effective in the treatment of sleep apnea. As interruption of regular breathing or obstruction of the airway during sleep can pose serious health complications, symptoms of sleep apnea should be taken seriously. Treatment should be sought from a health care provider.

Content source: National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Population Health

Sleep and Chronic Disease

8 Mar

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As chronic diseases have assumed an increasingly common role in premature death and illness, interest in the role of sleep health in the development and management of chronic diseases has grown. Notably, insufficient sleep has been linked to the development and management of a number of chronic diseases and conditions, including:

• Diabetes– Research has found that insufficient sleep is linked to an increased risk for the development of Type 2 diabetes.

• Cardiovascular disease– Persons with sleep apnea have been found to be at increased risk for a number of cardiovascular diseases, notably, hypertension, stroke, coronary heart disease and irregular heartbeats.

• Obesity– Laboratory research has found that short sleep duration results in metabolic changes that may be linked to obesity.

• Depression– The relationship between sleep and depression is complex. While sleep disturbance has long been held to be an important symptom of depression, recent research has indicated that depressive symptoms may decrease once sleep apnea has been effectively treated and sufficient sleep restored.

Content source: National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Population Health