Raising awareness about Wilson Disease

Sara Racine, shown here with her children, was very ill and with proper care has gone on to lead a very happy and successful life.

Sara Racine, shown here with her children, was very ill and with proper care has gone on to lead a very happy and successful life.

All of us need some copper to survive, however some people are born with a genetic disorder that eliminates the body’s ability to remove excess copper. This is called Wilson Disease and it affects about 1 in 30,000 people worldwide. If left untreated, copper levels can become dangerously high and cause severe tissue damage in the liver and brain. In some cases, it can be fatal.

Sara Racine, of North Branch, was born with Wilson Disease, but she did not know it until much later as a college student in her 20s.

“My primary doctor had been running some blood work on me for annual physicals, and my liver function levels were always elevated. I started not feeling well. I was tired all the time. I had no energy to really do the daily tasks of going to college. My doctor couldn’t really explain what was going on. My gallbladder had signs of not working well, so they thought that if I had it removed that I would be feeling better.

However, when it came time for the procedure to remove her gallbladder, Sara’s blood work showed that her liver function and enzymes were far from normal and the surgeon would not operate.

“By that time I was feeling defeated and upset because I just wanted to feel better. I remember feeling scared at that time because nobody knew what was going on with me and had no clue how to make it better. With my energy even more depleted, I had to drop out of school because I knew I wasn’t going to be able to function. I had no energy to do anything.” Continue reading

A Gentler Colonoscopy Prep

Gentler Colonoscopy PrepMany people will tell you that the worst part of a colonoscopy is the prep. Preparation is critical, though, to help your doctor identify any polyps — it also helps the colonoscopy go faster. Some colonoscopy prep involves drinking up to four liters of a prep solution to help cleanse your colon. Even for someone who typically drinks a lot of fluids, that’s a large amount and you have to drink a few ounces every 15 minutes, which makes the prep almost a full-time job.

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Best Nap Ever!

Colonoscopy is a quick procedure and a guaranteed day of rest

Best Nap Ever blogSure, a colonoscopy isn’t on anyone’s list of favorite things to do, but look at the bright side — you’ll get an awesome nap. Most people receive what is known as “conscious sedation” during their colonoscopy. Anesthesia is delivered via an IV and you’ll feel drowsy almost immediately. You’ll nod off and when the procedure is over, you will be woken up. Most patients feel nothing during the procedure nor do they remember anything about the procedure.

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A Better (More Comfortable) Colonoscopy

Better Colonoscopy blogA colonoscopy cannot only detect colon cancer, it can also prevent it. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the United States, so it’s important to follow screening and prevention guidelines. Unfortunately, many people are so anxious about getting a colonoscopy that they avoid this potentially lifesaving procedure. With medical advances, today’s colonoscopy is a much better experience than those in the past.

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Colorectal cancer risk and genetics

colon cancer blogEveryone is at risk for colon cancer, but that risk is not the same for everyone. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer affecting men and women and each year, there are about 93,000 new cases of colon cancer and 39,610 new cases of rectal cancer diagnosed in the United States. The average person has a 5 percent chance of developing colon cancer, but some people are at a higher risk.

The most common risk factors for colon cancer are:

  • Age
  • Lifestyle
  • Race/ethnic background
  • Personal medical history
  • Family medical history

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When the burn becomes unbearable

Some heartburn can be caused by structural or biochemical abnormalities, but other individuals with heartburn have no such abnormalities — those individuals may have what is called functional heartburn. In addition to the burning pain in chest and throat, other symptoms include belching, regurgitation and bloating. HeartburnPeople with functional heartburn typically do not respond to medications used to treat GERD.

Advances in the field, such as esophageal pH-impedance testing, now allow for better diagnosis and characterization for patients presenting with heartburn. These advanced have highlighted the inadequacy of one-size-fits-all treatments such as modifying diets and trial PPI therapy.  Seventy-five percent of patients with functional heartburn also have esophageal hypersensitivity, which means they experience the symptoms more strongly than most people — making the symptoms even more frequent and painful.

Studies have also shown a link between stress and functional heartburn. Continue reading