Overcoming anxiety about the colonoscopy

Learning the facts can reduce your fear factor of this important cancer detection tool

colonoscopy anxietyFor many, the thought of having a colonoscopy can cause dismay and distress. I’ve known people who have procrastinated having a colonoscopy for years because of the fear and anxiety surrounding this procedure. The following are some concerns and myths, along with the facts about this important screening test.

Concern: I’m afraid I will be awake or in pain for this procedure.

FACT: The vast majority of patients are adequately sedated for this procedure and experience no pain or memory of the procedure. Something called conscious sedation is given. These medicines are given through an intravenous injection and they relax you and block pain. It’s not general anesthesia; therefore, you recover quickly from its effects. Continue reading

A better (more comfortable) colonoscopy

Small switch minimizes gas and cramping after the exam

Northville MPU colonoscopy.(blogpic)jpg

Dr. Leslie Aldrich uses a simulator to demonstrate what doctors look for during colonoscopy. Procedure rooms at Northville Health Center are among those equipped with CO2 delivery systems.

It’s the exam that’s made colon cancer one of the most preventable cancers yet. Most people don’t remember colonoscopy when it’s done, but for those age 50 and over it can be life-saving.

Digestive health specialists are taking action to make the process easier – from simpler instructions on prepping for a colonoscopy to medical advances that patients never see.

One switch:  using carbon dioxide during the exam. Rather than air, University of Michigan gastroenterologists use carbon dioxide to inflate the colon to help get a better look at its lining.

Resulting in less gas and cramping later — it’s a small change that can make a big impact when patients are ready to go home. 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

Are your genetics putting you at risk for colorectal cancer?

cancer geneticsColorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, trailing only lung cancer in the number of deaths each year. The American Cancer Society estimates 50,310 people will die from colorectal cancer in 2014 alone. Unlike lung cancer, however, there are ways to successfully screen for and prevent this common disease.

In conjunction with Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, I have outlined some factors health care providers consider in assessing an individual’s risk for colorectal cancer and determining the best approaches for screening and prevention.

Screening = Prevention

Colon cancer screening has been very effective in reducing the number of colorectal cancer diagnoses and deaths in the United 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