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Do You Need a Gastroenterologist?

Do you struggle with pain in your digestive system? Have you reported symptoms of abdominal pain, heartburn, constipation, or more? Dealing with consistent pain and discomfort in the lower abdomen can be a difficult experience all around. It’s important that, when you see the signs of consistent symptoms, it might be time to invest in professional Los Angeles Gastroenterology for the best treatment plans available.

 

But how do you know the difference between when the symptoms are manageable, and when you may need to see a gastroenterologist right away? Sometimes it isn’t clear if a discomfort can be cleared from a simple over-the-counter solution or if you might need the consult of a professional.

 

Our staff members at the office of Dr. Tabib can help you gain a better understanding of your symptoms to find the best source of relief for your gastrointestinal symptoms. Read the following information and schedule a consultation with us as soon as possible if you feel that these situations are applicable to you. Here are some of the biggest signs to indicate when you need a gastroenterologist.

You Need a Second or Long-Term Diagnosis

If your symptoms have already been diagnosed, but you have not been able to find a proper treatment solution for them, then you may need a gastroenterologist for further treatment. If you have been diagnosed with a long-term chronic illness or condition, you will be placed under the care of professional Los Angeles Gastroenterology for further treatment.

 

Some of these long-term or recurring diagnoses can include:

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Ulcerative Colitis
  • Pancreatitis
  • Hepatitis

This list is far limited. It’s important that your trusted gastroenterologist is in communication with the other physicians or specialists who are also treating your condition or diagnosis to provide the most comprehensive and successful treatment plan possible.

You are Dealing with Brand New Symptoms

On the opposite side of the coin, if you are experiencing pains and symptoms for the very first time, you may also need to seek the help of a professional. It is natural to feel concerned or confused about a symptom that has never been present until now. Some people prefer to make an appointment with their primary care physician as the first step towards assessing these new symptoms.

 

Some of these symptoms can include constipation, diarrhea, stomach pains, trouble going to the bathroom, nausea, and more. When you are working with your primary physician, they may conclude in requiring the help of a specialist.

Get in Touch with a Gastroenterologist ASAP

Gastroenterologists are professionally trained specialists that deal with conditions, diagnoses, and diseases of the digestive tract. The digestive tract goes all throughout the body, from the esophagus to the anus. There are many different types of conditions and illnesses that are treated by one of these professionals.

 

It is important to invest in our specialty if you have been diagnosed with one of the following:

  • Celiac Disease
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Gallbladder Disease
  • Cancer of the Digestive Tract
  • Pancreatitis
  • Polyps
  • Ulcers
  • Heartburn

When you are dealing with discomfort that just won’t quit, it’s important to seek medical help as soon as possible. Our professional staff members can assist you in finding a personalized process that works for you.

Los Angeles Gastroenterology

At the office of Dr. Tabib, we treat each patient with the individual attention they deserve to best diagnose the digestive tract issues and offer the best method of treatment. Whether you are dealing with a bad case of heartburn, polyps, or irritable bowel syndrome, it’s important not to wait any longer. Our Los Angeles Gastroenterology specialists are here for you today. To schedule a consultation, simply contact us online or give us a call at (310) 652-4472.

Should I be Concerned with Blood in the Toilet?

Because all bleeding is considered abnormal, if you are experiencing rectal bleeding, you need to be evaluated by a medical professional. Whether it is regular or infrequent, seeking medical attention is extremely important to establish that it is not symptomatic of a much larger issue.

 

We are predisposed to thinking of the worst-case scenario whenever anything like this occurs, but there is no need to do that immediately. However, the worst-case scenario when you are experiencing rectal bleeding is colon cancer, so it is still important to get a doctor’s assessment even if you think it is nothing to be worried about.

 

The amount of blood is something to note. If you see a small amount of blood, do not panic, but do contact your doctor. But, if there are clots and a significant amount of blood, you almost certainly have a medical emergency on your hands. Similar to the frequency of rectal bleeding, the amount of blood does not reveal that much in a diagnosis. Rather, all types of bleeding, frequent or not, are treated as a condition that needs to be assessed by a medical professional. So, whether you see a lot or a little, frequently or infrequently, you need to seek the attention of a doctor.

 

Unlike other medical emergencies, sometimes there are very few accompanying symptoms to an issue causing rectal bleeding. Though anal fissures will cause pain during bowel movements, many of the other issues that cause rectal bleeding will not cause pain and your only symptom will be the blood in your toilet. Therefore, it is important to check in with your doctor.

 

Obviously, seeing blood in your toilet can be a very alarming situation, and it is important to remember that a lot of causes of rectal bleeding are not severe or life threatening, and can be simply treated by your physician or gastroenterologist. Hemorrhoids, anal fissures, constipation and hard stools are all common causes of rectal bleeding.

 

Generally, if you are seeing bright red blood in your toilet, it is likely from somewhere in the last part of your colon called the rectum. This type of bleeding is typically caused by an anal fissure or hemorrhoids. If you are seeing lots of blood with clots, then it could have come from anywhere in your colon and might be signaling a medical emergency. If you see black, tar-like stools, this could mean bleeding from the right side of the colon, your stomach or small bowel and is also considered an emergency. Since all bleeding is considered abnormal, it is in your best interest to get a doctor’s attention as quickly as possible.

 

You might be wondering what you should do if you see blood in your toilet aside from reaching out to your doctor. You can also take steps like documenting how frequently you are seeing blood and how much you see, changing in your bowel movements, changes in your diet, stressful events in your life, and investigating your family history with colon cancer, colon polyps, or other gastrointestinal issues.

Gastroenterologist in Los Angeles

If you are experiencing rectal bleeding or any other issues that you would like to address, we provide everyone a personalized treatment plan to meet your unique needs and improve your quality of life. Thousands of loyal patients have experienced Dr. Tabib’s attention to detail, his compassion and realized his paramount goal of improving his patient’s quality of life. Contact our center Gastroenterology in Los Angeles to schedule a private consultation with Dr. Tabib.

Your Guide to Pancreatitis

Inflammation of the pancreas due to digestive enzymes is known as pancreatitis. Your pancreas produces digestive enzymes that become active when they get to the small intestine. They help your body to break down fats, proteins and carbohydrates during the process of digestion. Sometimes the enzymes become active in the pancreas and this will cause acute or chronic bouts of inflammation.

Symptoms

If you are experiencing abdominal pain that is anywhere from mild to severe then you may have pancreatitis. The pain may radiate through your abdomen to your back. It is also possible that you will experience nausea and vomiting. Chronic and acute pancreatitis may both produce these symptoms.

Acute Pancreatitis

Other possibilities that can be experienced with acute pancreatitis is a swollen and tender abdomen, fever, and increased pulse rate. Dehydration and low blood pressure can be caused by this. In severe cases, heart, lung, or kidney failure could occur. Acute pancreatitis may also result in bleeding which can be fatal.

Chronic Pancreatitis

Symptoms can be different if you suffer from chronic pancreatitis because of the long-term nature of the condition. Chronic pancreatitis can cause you to lose weight as the body is unable to digest properly. This can also result in fatty stools. Eventually the pancreas will stop producing digestive enzymes completely and you may stop having abdominal pain. Diabetes can develop if the pancreas stops producing insulin.

Causes of Pancreatitis

There could be various contributing factors but the most common cause of pancreatitis is the consumption of too much alcohol. Drinking too much can cause both acute and chronic pancreatitis however, there can also be other factors besides alcohol consumption.

 

Gallstones can cause acute cases of pancreatitis. There are approximately 80, 000 cases of acute pancreatitis reported every year and as many as 20% of the cases are severe. Blocked pancreas ducts can contribute to chronic pancreatitis. Blocked ducts can be hereditary, caused by alcoholism, or caused by unknown factors.

Diagnosis of Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis can be diagnosed through blood tests that measure the levels of glucose, calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium and bicarbonate in the bloodstream. A blood test will detect irregularities in the levels. An accurate diagnosis can be done by a hepatologist.

 

To check for inflammation, obstruction, or other damage, an abdominal ultrasound or CAT scan may be conducted.

 

It is more difficult to diagnose chronic cases but there are various methods to see if your pancreas is doing its job. Signs of pancreatitis can be detected using ultrasonic imaging, endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) and CAT scans. If the disease has progressed it may be diagnosed through blood, stool, and urine tests.

Treatment Recommended by a Hepatologist

The nature and severity of the condition will determine the treatment that is recommended. Acute pancreatitis may get better on its own. Even if you are no longer experiencing symptoms it is a good idea to see a doctor to determine the cause so you can prevent reoccurrence. If you have pancreatic pseudocysts or gallstones you will have to have them removed. Once pancreatitis is treated it is important to avoid alcohol and large meals.

 

For chronic cases, treatment will focus on pain relief and dietary changes. You will have to increase your intake of carbohydrates and decrease your fats. You may be prescribed pancreatic enzymes if the pancreas has stopped producing digestive enzymes.

 

If other pain relieving techniques are not working then surgery may be needed to drain an enlarged pancreatic duct or to remove part of the pancreas. If you suffer from pancreatitis it is important to stop drinking and adjust your diet appropriately as well as to take prescribed medication.

 

If you suffer from acute or chronic pancreatitis, schedule an appointment with Dr. Tabib for a complete diagnosis and treatment plan. Dr. Tabib has extensive knowledge of the stomach and digestive tract and will be able to recommend the treatment that will be best for you.

Living with Reflux

While it is normal to experience some Gastro-esophageal Reflux (GER), Gastro-esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is something that needs to be addressed. GER is normal and occurs during and immediately after meals in infants, children, and adults. It is when the contents of the stomach wash up from the stomach into the esophagus and possibly even into the throat. This is why knowing the proper acid reflux diet is so important.

 

Acid reflux can be a painful condition and over time, it could be harmful to the esophagus and possible lead to esophageal cancer.

What is Actually Happening?

Acid reflux occurs when the esophageal sphincter, the circular muscle that closes off the esophagus from the stomach, loosens too easily and does not maintain its tone. This will allow gastric acid to flow back into the esophagus which can cause difficulty swallowing, wheezing, shortness of breath, persistent dry cough, hoarseness, and the feeling that there is a lump in your throat.

Acid Reflux Causes & Trigger Foods

Contrary to popular belief, it is not acidic and spicy foods that are the culprits for reflux. Because people have different tolerance levels for certain foods, acid and spice may exacerbate the condition for some but for the most part, they are not to blame.

 

There are fewer than 12 substances that have been scientifically proven to trigger GERD. Mint and anything containing mint oil, chocolate, deep-fried foods, coffee, and alcohol are among the foods that should be avoided if you suffer from GERD.

 

Chocolate and mint cause a chemical reaction that will cause the lower esophageal sphincter to loosen and this will trigger reflux. Foods that are greasy or high in saturated fat will slow down digestion which can also cause heartburn. Deep-fried foods are very hard to digest so they are the most likely to cause an issue with reflux.
Though spicy meals are not a cause of reflux, if you are experiencing reflux eating spicy food is not recommended during a reflux attack. Because the esophagus is irritated, the spicy food will burn on the way down.

Get Lots of Fiber

There is not a comprehensive list of foods you should or should not eat but if you experience reflux, including extra fiber in your acid reflux diet can help. Fiber aids in digestion so eat fruits and vegetables that are high in fiber as well as nuts and whole grains.

Ginger and Fennel

Ginger and fennel are also great for your acid reflux diet digestion. Research has shown that the ginger speeds up the passage of food from the stomach to the small intestine. Ginger can be eaten in a variety of forms – fresh, dried, candied, or pickled. Fennel, thought to relieve bloating, is a high-fiber vegetable that can be eaten raw or cooked.

Food Preparation

Remember that food high in fat can contribute to the problem. Instead of frying food consider roasting, grilling, or poaching. If you do want to fry some things, use extra-virgin olive oil rather than butter or margarine.

Be Cautious with Dairy

Goat’s milk contains less fat and is easier to digest than cow’s milk. Take this into consideration when consuming milk or cheese in your acid reflux diet. If you love your cow’s milk dairy products, try to consume the reduced-fat and fat-free options.

Eat and Italian Diet

Italian’s seem to experience GERD far less than anyone else. The incidence is only 14.8% compared to 38% in most of northern Europe and 42% in the United States. Italians tend to eat smaller portions which means they will have less food in their stomach. Too much food in the stomach at one time can trigger an attack.

 

Italians coat their pasta lightly with sauce as opposed to piling it on and they also begin most meals with a serving of vegetable (there’s that fiber they need). For dessert, they will eat fresh fruit and after that they will enjoy a stroll around the neighborhood. Research shows that a slow walk after a meal will aid digestion.

 

For more information on GERD and how to deal with your acid reflux diet, you can contact the office of Siamak Tabib, M.D. who is a gastroenterologist and hepatolgist.

The Difference in Gastric Balloons for Weight Loss Treatment

 

Orbera and ReShape gastric balloon procedures are effective weight loss programs designed to help patients lose weight and keep the weight off by living a healthier lifestyle. Both of these procedures are non-surgical and offer very similar results in weight loss, but are there any differences?

 

Dr. Tabib performs gastric balloon procedures with both of these weight loss treatments and can testify to their individual successes, however taking a look at the details as well as giving them a side by side overview may help you in deciding your choice in program. Results also depend on the individual’s weight and the lifestyle choices in their diet and exercise. If you are someone looking to change in how you live, a gastric balloon procedure can be exactly what you’ve been looking for.

What is a Gastric Balloon?

Before understanding the difference in types of gastric balloons, learning about the procedure itself is crucial information. The gastric balloon or endoscopic intragastric balloon procedure places a silicone balloon inside the stomach for 6 months as a way to prevent room for food. This outpatient procedure is performed by a highly trained and experienced physician and lasts roughly 20 minutes. The patient is first sedated to ensure maximum comfort by a light anesthesia and an endoscope is then used to insert a deflated balloon through the mouth, down the esophagus, and to the stomach where it is expanded. The expanded balloon causes patients to have feeling of fullness which will then allow them to experience proper portion control and simultaneously lose weight. The amount of weight loss from the procedure varies from person to person, on majority of occasions one-third of excess weight is lost in the first 6 months and after those months it is deflated and removed. In many cases, gastric balloon procedures can also bring a variety of health benefits such as improving diabetes, cardiac issues, and joint/bone health.

What are the Similarities Between Orbera and ReShape?

Beside the very basic benefits of the gastric balloon procedure, which is a nonsurgical weight loss treatment, there are other comparable similarities between both programs. One of the many perks to choosing either of these gastric procedures over traditional weight loss procedures are their personal aftercare. These 12-month aftercare programs provided to patients help ensure that weight loss and healthy living are maintained. Both programs give a comprehensive guide and personalized coaching to assist patients in adjusting into their new and improved lifestyles. Both procedures are also required for patients to be within 30 to 40 BMI range before they begin the process.

 

What are the Differences Between Orbera and ReShape?

While both of these procedures have great levels of weight loss success and are created with the same mission in mind, the technicalities are really what makes the difference. Orbera is an FDA approved system that has been helping patients for 20 years. According to Orbera, it has helped over 220,000 people worldwide. The procedure follows the basic idea of the gastric balloon, a single balloon that can hold 55cc in volume takes shape in the stomach to assist patients in weight loss and healthy living. It’s extensive success stories and history demonstrate a tried and true gastric balloon procedure.

 

ReShape takes the classic gastric balloon procedure and adds another level of intricacies with its dual balloon design. Each balloon is filled with 450cc of fluid and has the potential to assure greater weight loss. It’s two balloon design also positions to the natural shape of the stomach and because they are individually sealed if one were to deflate the other would still stay intact. ReShape has been said to be revolutionizing the gastric balloon industry because of its new design and its great success also speaks volumes.

 

The differences between these two procedures can mean a great deal to how you envision your weight loss treatment. Perhaps you gravitate more towards Orbera’s long history of success or want to undergo the newest methods of weight loss with ReShape. Discussing the best options for you with a specialist is the first real step to take in your journey to a healthy lifestyle.

 

Discuss the Benefits with Dr. Tabib

Whether you’re still having trouble deciding which gastric balloon procedure is right for you or if either are right for you at all take some time to think about their benefits. The non-surgical element to both Orbera and ReShape provides patients with the ability to change their lives without the risk and body altering effects of surgery. The after-care programs also provide a way to ensure that the weight loss is maintained by guiding patients to live a healthy lifestyle. Orbera is well tested with history of success and ReShape is a new redesign of the procedure. Both have their mutual and exclusive merits and discussing those benefits with a certified physician such as Dr. Tabib will help make the decision much easier and put you on the fast track to weight loss and healthy living.

 

To learn more about the gastric balloon procedure visit our websites dedicated to Orbera and ReShape and make a consultation with Dr.Tabib today.

Difference Between Acute vs Chronic Pancreatitis

 

While not exactly the biggest priority in people’s minds the pancreas is an important gland that produces several hormones, including insulin, glucagon, and somatostatin, as well as secretes pancreatic juice that contains digestive enzymes and then passes to the small intestine. The enzymes created and transferred to the small intestine help your body break down fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. Although not the star of the show the pancreas remains a fundamentally crucial part of the human body because it generates so many nutrients for us. This vital organ unfortunately is susceptible to illness and disease as the enzymes that travel from the pancreas to the small intestine can instead build up and become active in the pancreas. This is commonly known as pancreatitis and although the name and even the symptoms may seem familiar to many, the difference from acute and chronic can be life-saving knowledge.

 

The Misconception about Pancreatitis

The causes for pancreatitis can be many and often not what people think of when the topic comes to mind. There are misconceptions that mainly revolve around alcohol consumption as the one and only cause for pancreatitis. While it is common to develop the disease due to excessive drinking in both acute and chronic cases, other causes can rise and start the inflammation of pancreatitis. RMPancreatitis points to cancer, types of medications, infections, genetics, gallstones, even the result of a car accident that injures the abdominal section as other causes for pancreatitis. It’s good to stay aware of these factors and not categorize pancreatitis under one condition, but instead multiple causes that at times cannot be avoided just by healthy living.

 

The Similarity and Difference in Symptoms

The symptoms for acute and chronic pancreatitis can be very similar and difficult to tell apart initially. The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) breaks down the symptoms.
For acute pancreatitis some symptoms may include:

  • A sudden attack of pain in the upper abdominal area that can last for hours or days.
  • Pain radiating from the abdomen to the back.
  • Nausea or vomiting, with pain increase following a meal.
  • Fevers and changes in skin color, often a yellowish appearance in the skin.

 

Chronic pancreatitis can have the following symptoms:

  • Persistent attacks over a period of times, usually more than 6 months.
  • Pain radiating from the abdomen to the back.
  • Nausea or vomiting, with pain increase following a meal.
  • Excessive thirst and fatigue.
  • Fevers and changes in skin color, often a yellowish appearance in the skin.
  • Weight loss, in the later stages of chronic pancreatitis, the longer you live with the disease the less likely you have of eating a normal diet because the pain may be too great to eat normally.

 

As you can see it may be difficult to determine which type of pancreatitis is affecting your body just by looking at the symptoms, especially early on. The crucial difference one can make to tell the difference is in the longevity of the pain. Acute pancreatitis starts with a sudden attack of pain that peters out after a few hours to days while chronic pancreatitis remains persistent for months. However, even then that symptom might not be as reliable as it seems. While not well defined recurrent acute pancreatitis has been estimated to occur to roughly 15% of patients who experience a first acute attack. Meaning that although acute is known for only a short sudden burst of pain it is not impossible for it to have chronic-like symptoms in some cases. Another factor to think about is age and sex, it is more common for people between the ages of 40 and 60 to develop chronic pancreatitis with a higher rate of occurrence in the male population which is usually attributed in alcohol consumption. On the other hand women are more likely to have gallstone related pancreatitis.

 

The Difference in Complications

If left untreated or ignored until later on both acute and chronic pancreatitis can develop from mild to serious conditions.

 

Acute pancreatitis may result in a number of issues:

  • Red swollen, tender abdomen
  • Rapid pulse
  • Heart, lung, or kidney failure
  • Pancreatic cell death, or pancreatic necrosis
  • If pancreas begins to bleed, condition could be become fatal

 

Chronic pancreatitis may result in these issues:

  • Diabetes can develop
  • Malabsorption or malnutrition, the diminished ability to secrete enzymes thus leading steatorrhea, bloating, indigestion, dyspepsia, and diarrhea
  • Irreversible scarring of the pancreas, resulting from prolonged inflammation
  • Internal bleeding
  • Intestinal blockage

 

The Difference in Diagnosing

Because acute and chronic have striking similarities in their symptoms the best way to tell is from a diagnosis from a hepatologist.
For acute pancreatitis diagnosing usually begins by looking at one’s medical history, a physical examination, and a blood test (amylase or lipase) for the enzymes in the pancreas. The blood amylase or lipase will usually be elevated 3 times the normal level and that would be a sign of acute pancreatitis. In some cases the blood does not elevate and other measures are taken to diagnosis it such as a CAT scan. After diagnosis is confirmed more tests are run to determine the cause as they will usually vary in how best to treat them. The Pancreas Foundation finds that the most common tools used are transabdominal ultrasound (which can help find gallstones) and computerized tomography (CT) (which is normally used if a patient is experiencing abnormal pancreatic damage).

 

Chronic pancreatitis is more difficult to determine initially with blood tests. Usually they are not used to diagnose it, but can find determine how many pancreatic enzymes are in the blood. A hepotologist may also ask for a sample of your stool for levels of fat, a fatty stool could be a sign that your body is no longer absorbing nutrients properly. Using imaging test is the preferred way to diagnose chronic pancreatitis, usually with Ultrasound imaging, X-Rays, CAT scans, and Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) scans. During the endoscopic scan the doctor will insert a flexible tube into your mouth down to your small intestine. The tube contains an ultrasound probe attached to it that sends sound waves that creates a detailed visual of the pancreas.

 

The Difference in Treatments

In some cases acute pancreatitis can subside within a few days, but it’s recommend to make a doctor’s visit to determine the cause for the illness. People with a mild condition resolves with therapy, while those with a severe condition will need to be treated quickly. Early fluid resuscitation is vital to stop dehydration and insures that blood flow is adequate for the rest of the body, nutritional support that halts nutrition for the first 24 to 48 hours is also necessary, and intravenous medications is used for pain relief. Causes such as gallstones will need a surgical removal.

Unfortunately for those with the chronic pancreatitis the damage to the pancreas cannot be undone, but with the right treatment many of the symptoms can be managed appropriately. Medications that may be prescribed are artificial enzymes if the levels are too low to digest food naturally, pain medication, and dietary changes such as no alcohol consumption and limited amount of fat in the diet. In some cases endoscopy is performed to reduce the pain and remove blockage. The doctor will insert a long flexible tube down the mouth and remove pancreatic stones to improve flow and decrease leaks. Surgery, although not necessary for a lot diagnosed with this disease, can bring welcomed relief to those still experiencing pain despite using medications. Removing part of the pancreas or unblocking the pancreatic duct can be a beneficial pain reliever for severe cases.

 

For Both Cases of Acute and Chronic

 

Acute and chronic pancreatitis may have their fundamental similarities and differences, but one thing that is unquestionably certain for both is looking for a prompt diagnosis and treatment. Whether you believe the symptoms point to acute or chronic both can be life altering and permanently damaging if left untreated. Looking for the difference however still remains an important part to help identify the right treatment options or how best to prevent them. Knowing your family’s medical history for the type of pancreatitis is also a beneficial way to know to stay away from certain foods or drinks or when to go for a consultation with a trusted physician. Looking at the symptoms and determining which pancreatitis you have on your own can be detrimental to your health. Many who categorize it is as acute may tend to ignore more pressing issues because they believe the problem will solve itself within a few hours or days. And while acute pancreatitis can resolve on its own an estimated 80,000 cases of acute pancreatitis are reported each year, with as many as 20 percent of them being severe. The best judgement call is to make a call with your doctor.

If you are interested in learning more about pancreatitis and the differences between acute and chronic, or if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms stated above contact our pancreatic center. Consulting with an experienced hepatologist with knowledge of the stomach and digestive tract can recommend the best treatment options for your individual symptoms.

 

How to Prevent Foodborne Illness (Food Poisoning)

The holidays are a time of giving and being with one’s family. Most of the time that consists of sitting around the table sharing a great meal together. Whether you have a large group to feed or it’s just a few; good food preparation is vital to keeping a happy and healthy family together for years to come. A possibly dangerous, but preventative public health problem is contracting a foodborne illness or infection in your very own kitchen. Symptoms can vary from a mild upset stomach to serious problems involving vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, dehydration and in some extremely serious cases abortion and death. Treating for food poisoning varies on the type of infection, if any of the serious symptoms have become apparent it is important to contact a doctor right away, it could save you or a loved one’s life.

 

HOW DOES FOOD BECOME CONTAMINATED?

There are many ways that food can become contaminated, as The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there are 3,000 annual deaths and 48 million sickened by foodborne disease. These opportunities for food contamination can happen throughout the food-making process when it is being produced, prepared, and processed.

 

As it is being produced and prepared these issues can arise:
 

  • Healthy animals may have intestinal issues which contaminate the carcass during butchering.
  • Vegetable and fruits become contaminated when rinsed with water that has been mixed with manure or human sewage.
  • Salmonella can contaminate hen’s ovaries and thus contaminate the egg.

 

When the food is processed, there are more opportunities for foodborne illness to take place:
 

  • Unwashed hands while handling food can introduced hepatitis A and norovirus.
  • In the kitchen, microbes (a bacterium that causes disease or fermentation) can move from one food to another by using the same knife or utensils to handle them.
  • If cooked food touches anything raw it can become re-contaminated.
  • Microbes can multiply at 17 million in 12 hours, leaving food out overnight is extremely dangerous.

 

For more information on causes for food poisoning visit: https://www.tabibmd.com/symptoms-conditions/foodborne-illness/

 

HOW DO YOU PREVENT FOODBORNE ILLNESS?

After seeing all the varying causes for foodborne illnesses, it may seem difficult to know where to start in protecting yourself and your family. When food is being produced, and prepared it is out of our hands on just how it is being treated and it’s even harder to see if the meat or vegetables we pick out at the supermarket are healthy or not.

 

Taking Action at the Grocery Store

Here are some tips from the FDA (US Food & Drug Administration) on being vigilant outside of the kitchen:
 

  • Buy from a retailer who follows proper food handling. Look around the facility and get a general impression of its cleanliness. Reading reviews online can also be helpful indicators on the store’s or restaurant’s health code.
  • When at the grocery store separate the meat, poultry, and seafood from other foods. It’s best to put them in separate plastic bags and keep them away during checkout and when placing them in grocery bags.
  • Be mindful and check for dents, cracks or loose lids when by buying cans and jars. While food in cans will keep for a long time any tampering or damage can expose the food inside and contaminate it.
  • When buying frozen food check also for damaged or torn bags. Avoid food that is above the frost line and if the bag is transparent check if the food has been crystallized. This can mean it’s been frozen for a long period of time, thawed, or refrozen.
  • Check off your grocery list by buying frozen and perishable foods last as they’ll have less time to contaminate any of other food in your shopping cart.
  • Look at the eggs you buy carefully. Make sure all the eggs are not cracked and clean.
  • After buying groceries it’s important to get perishable foods refrigerated ‘within 2 hours’ food experts say. Adjust to 1 hour if the temperature is 90 degrees and over. If the temperature is warm in your car keep your food in the passenger seat instead of the trunk. As said before microbes can multiply very quickly in a short amount of time and heat quickens the process.

 

While these tips are great and will help fight against food poisoning in the initial stages of the food-making process it’s important to have peace of mind when you’re buying food and knowing if it was handled properly before it makes it to your shopping bag. There are many food safety consumer organizations that could benefit from your interest. Non-profits like The Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention (CFI) and STOP Foodborne Illness are organizations that focus on educating public awareness. For more information and more organizations visit this link. It’s imperative that we stop food poisoning from starting at the source so that we can focus on protecting from it once in the kitchen.

 

Food Safety Techniques in the Kitchen

Once you make it to your kitchen the most apparent thing on your mind is probably getting your recipe right. No one wants to think about the possibility of getting sick especially during this time of year when cooking can bring the family together. While making food with a cautious eye is ideal, don’t let the fear of foodborne illnesses get to you. Many of the tips for keeping food from being contaminated comes naturally to many cooks and they’re most likely practices you already implement in your daily life. However, it’s good to keep them in mind or keep a reminder for yourself as you prepare your holiday meal or any meal in general.

 

  • Wash your hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds minimum before handling meat, fruit or vegetables.
  • Wash utensils, counter tops and surfaces before and after use.
  • Keep marinated food in the refrigerator, do not let it out at room temperature.
  • Do not over pack food in the refrigerator, cold air should be able to circulate and keep all food cold.
  • Assist children with washing their hands before eating.
  • Use clean towels and sponges to clean surfaces, if dirty they spread bacteria. To keep a clean sponge, microwave for 1 minute to kill bacteria and replace frequently.
  • Rinse fruit and vegetables before preparing, but do not rinse raw meat, poultry, or seafood as the raw juices can splash and contaminate other food and surfaces.
  • In the fridge, separate types of food from one another. Many fridges have compartments for keeping food. Remember to keep poultry, seafood, and raw meat in the bottom compartment or shelf so juices do not spill onto other foods.
  • Labelling your cutting boards can help in keeping the meat separated from the vegetables and lessen the confusion.
  • Use a food thermometer to determine how cooked your meat is. Different foods cook at different temperatures, check this link to see what your meal temperature should be at: https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/mintemp.html
  • Keep a clean thermometer for testing food and make sure to put it into the thickest part of the meat so as not to touch the bone.
  • Temperatures between 40°F and 140°F are dangerous and cause rapid bacterial growth. Remember to keep cold foods 40°F and below and hot food 140°F and above.
  • Keep refrigerator 40°F or below and freezer at 0°F for safe food consumption.
  • Reheat leftovers to 165°F minimum.

 

These practices and tips are many of the ways to keep your kitchen from foodborne illnesses. If you have more questions and concerns on these topics check out Dr. Tabib’s page on Foodborne Illnesses and Prevention. Sometimes even with all these precautions it’s impossible to know if the food you’ve prepared is safe and not contaminated and in some cases food poisoning can still arise. If you or a loved one is having symptoms that range from vomiting to fevers, chills, and severe dehydration do not hesitate to get in contact with a doctor. Anyone can be susceptible to getting foodborne illnesses, although some are likely to contract it than others and should be more aware, this includes: infants and children, pregnant women, older adults, and those with weaker immune systems. In many cases increasing fluid and electrolyte intake will be prescribed, but for others it’s best to detect and act early as it can lead to serious complications such as, but not limited to, arthritis and irritable bowel syndrome. Early treatment with antibiotics or even hospitalization for rare cases like HUS (Hemolytic uremic syndrome)can potentially save a life or prevent severe complications.

 

Dr. Tabib and his staff want to wish you happy and healthy holiday season especially while you sit and enjoy a meal with your family. Foodborne illness should be the last thing on anyone’s mind during this time of a year and by keeping these simple tips in mind and staying aware at the grocery store and at home you can stop any illness and infection in its tracks.

 

Understanding the Differences of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases: Crohn’s and Colitis

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis impact every component of the lives of those diagnosed with these digestive diseases. There are about 1.4 million people living with these illnesses around the United States, and many of us are unaware of just how physically and emotionally challenging they can be. Both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis fall under the universal term of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and both require management/treatment over the course of a patient’s lifetime.

In light of Chron’s and Colitis Awareness Month observed on the east coast we want to take the time to help patients understand the relation and differences between the two and help determine the treatment you need to live comfortably. We also want to remind patients that consulting with a Los Angeles gastroenterologist, you can stay on track with the latest treatment techniques and guidance programs from the experienced professionals patients choose most often.

Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis is confined to the colon (large intestine) and affects the top layers in an even distribution. Symptoms this condition include cramps and abdominal pain, loose, bloody stools and urgent bowels. Other effects of the disease include fatigue, loss of appetite, and anemia due to blood loss. About half of patients with ulcerative colitis experience mild symptoms, with some or no stress at all, but remission periods can last from weeks to years depending on the severity of the case. The good news is that most patients with ulcerative colitis will almost never require surgery.

Crohn’s Disease

There is no universal diagnostic test that diagnoses whether a patient has Crohn’s disease, especially since there are a number of possible symptoms that can occur. Generally, Crohn’s disease affects any part of the GI tract from the patient’s mouth to the rectum, but more often than not, the end of the small intestine and the beginning of the colon is where symptoms occur. The symptoms of Crohn’s disease include persistent diarrhea, abdominal cramps/pain, fever, rectal bleeding and fatigue. Since symptoms usually intensify after a meal, patients with Crohn’s may often experience weight loss as patients try to avoid food.

Epigenetic Changes

Not only are adults struggling with these diseases, but our children are also suffering from them. The constant stress and pain for both child and parent is excruciating. Recently, scientists discovered evidence of alterations in DNA of the genome in children with Chron’s disease. The report, published in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, the official journal of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America, finds that the ability to identify these biogenetic changes in children with Chron’s may make it simpler to determine what type of therapeutic techniques are needed to slow down the progression of this disease.

Get Evaluated from a Gastroenterologist in Los Angeles

This month-long observation hopes to spread awareness of not only New Yorkers, but all Americans living with these inflammatory bowel diseases. The incidence of pediatric bowel diseases of Chron’s disease and ulcerative colitis is increasing, but so are the advancements of modern therapeutic treatment. If you or a loved one is living with one of these bothersome digestive diseases, then now is the time to call on a gastroenterologist Los Angeles patients trust. Contact our gastroenterology specialist’s office at (310) 652-4472.