What’s new in treating IBD?

FDA approves Entyvio, other drugs in development for treating IBD

86804105People with inflammatory bowel disease rely on medication to keep them feeling well. Because of the complexity of IBD, knowing what medication will work is often accomplished by trial and error.

Even then, many patients will find success with one medication for many years until the medication stops working for them.

The exciting news is that research is helping us better understand IBD, and has led to many new drugs in development which are now becoming available to patients. Continue reading

Supporting caregivers of patients with liver disease

Your needs are important too

Doctor and caregiverOne day last year, I walked into clinic to see a patient with end-stage liver disease. His health had been declining, with frequent admissions to the hospital for confusion and fluid overload. The patient was in the bathroom when I entered the room, so I stopped to ask his wife how things were going. She dutifully started listing his current medications, described his recent symptoms, and showed me a list of his daily weights.  Something about the frantic way she did this, made me stop and ask: “No, how are YOU doing?” Then she started to cry. Continue reading

Constipated? 5 ways to unblock yourself

First line of defense: Water, fiber, exercise

con21 fw.fwFeeling bloated and blocked can happen during times of stress, frequent travel or when we aren’t eating well, skipping sleep or aren’t exercising enough. Constipation is common.

Whether constipation is occasional, or happens over an extended period of time – not just for a few days but for periods of weeks to months – there are ways to find relief.

Start with simple solutions

If you have mild, intermittent constipation, the first line of defense is water, exercise and fiber. Water keeps stool soft and regular vigorous exercise accelerates movement of stool through the colon. Even though people with constipation typically drink the same amount of water and eat as much fiber as those without constipation, more fiber from supplements such as psyllium or ispaghula husk can help. If you’re constipated, aim for a total daily fiber intake of 20-25 grams. Continue reading

Bottoms up: “My doctor said I need what?!”

Screening for colorectal cancer: It’s time to stop avoiding the colonoscopy

colonscreen.fwWe’re all prone to the uncomfortable feeling that arises when a doctor mentions screening for colon or rectal cancers. Despite the unease surrounding this topic, it’s time to stop avoiding the colonoscopy and get screened! There are often no symptoms with colorectal cancer. You can’t feel a polyp, and very rarely will you see visible blood. For this reason, screening is the most effective way to be protected.

According to the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, colorectal cancer is the third-leading cause of U.S. cancer deaths in both men and women. Further, it is currently the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. That is why doctors recommend screenings, even though they may be embarrassing to discuss.

Colorectal cancer starts in the colon or rectum, most often as a polyp, or a small piece of tissue that protrudes from the inner wall. Screenings help prevent colorectal cancer by finding precancerous polyps so they can be removed before they progress. Everyone needs screening because we are all at risk for colon cancer. If everyone got screened we could prevent up to 90% of colorectal cancers. Continue reading