Common Disorders Associated With the Digestive System

The digestive system is a collection of organs that work together in getting food in and out of your body. These organs include the mouth, salivary glands, esophagus, stomach, gallbladder, pancreas, small intestine, liver, colon, rectum and anus. Symptoms associated with the digestive system include the occasional nausea, upset stomach and heartburn, to more severe, life-threatening disorders. Such disorders usually have unknown causes and are complex with subtle symptoms. While some may be generic, they may also develop due to a number of different factors including fatigue, stress, diet, smoking and alcohol abuse. Diagnostic testing, including laboratory tests, medical imaging and endoscopic procedures may be necessary to diagnose certain disorders.

Digestive System
Digestive System

Below, Vancouver physician Dr. Ali Ghahary gives further insight into some of the common disorders that are associated with the digestive system.

Appendicitis
As written about in a previous article by Dr. Ali Ghahary, appendicitis occurs when the appendix becomes inflamed, resulting in abdominal pain and other symptoms, and can be a life-threatening condition if not treated immediately.

For more information on appendicitis, visit http://alighahary.blogspot.ca.

Cirrhosis
Cirrhosis is a chronic disease and potentially life-threatening condition that occurs as a result of scarring, also known as fibrosis, to the liver. The scarring replaces otherwise healthy tissues which then prevents the liver from being able to function normally. Cirrhosis has many possible causes; however, the most common causes include excessive consumption of alcohol and viral hepatitis (mainly hepatitis B and hepatitis C.) Symptoms include edema, fatigue, jaundice, bruising, weight and muscle loss, and frequent infections. Oftentimes, symptoms of cirrhosis will not present until the disease has progressed.

Colitis
Colitis is inflammation of the large intestine that can be caused by chronic infections, impaired blood flow or other inflammatory disorders such as Crohn’s disease. Symptoms of colitis include abdominal pain and/or bloating, bloody stools, dehydration and diarrhea. It can be identified by a colonoscopy.

Colorectal Cancer
This is cancer of the colon, otherwise known as the large intestine which is located in the lower part of the digestive system. In most cases, colorectal cancer begins with small, benign polyps that turn cancerous over time. Because these polyps are usually small, they initially produce very little, if any, symptoms. However, you may notice a change in your bowel habits, have blood stools, persistent cramps and abdominal pain. It is important to go for regular screening as this can dramatically reduce your risk of colorectal cancer, and early detection is also important.

Other common disorders of the digestive system not mentioned here include diverticulitis, hernia, GERD, peptic ulcer disease, and irritable bowel syndrome.

For more information on any of these conditions, follow Dr. Ali Ghahary on social media.

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How to Prevent Kidney Stones

In yesterday’s articles we discussed how the kidneys function. Today, we are going to continue that conversation by discussing kidney stones, how they occur, the symptoms associated to them, and how they can be treated.

Kidney Stones
Kidney Stones

Kidney stones form as a result of your urine containing (and being unable to dilute) crystal-forming substances such as calcium, oxalate and uric acid. In addition, your urine may also lack the substances that prevent these crystals from forming, which then creates an ideal environment for kidney stones to develop. While kidney stones do not have one definitive cause, there are several factors that can increase your risk of developing kidney stones. These risk factors include having a family history of kidney stones, dehydration, having an unhealthy diet, obesity, digestive disorders and other medical conditions such as metabolic disorders, which can increase the concentration of calcium or oxalate found in urine.

An individual suffering from kidney stones usually presents with severe pain in the back that can spread to the abdomen, nausea and vomiting, painful urination, and urine that is cloudy and/or has a foul odor. It is also not unusual for pain to fluctuate in intensity.

There are three different types of kidney stones:

1. Calcium Stones
Calcium oxalate is a naturally occurring substance that is found in certain foods such as fruits and vegetables, nuts and chocolate. Your liver also produces oxalate.

2. Struvite Stones
These kinds of kidney stones are formed as a result of an infection, such as a UTI (urinary tract infection). Struvite stones can grow rapidly and become large. These stones sometimes come on with little warning and have very few symptoms.

3. Uric Acid Stones
Uric acid stones can form in individuals who are not drinking enough fluids or are losing too much fluid, in individuals who have diets that are high in protein, as well as individuals diagnosed with gout. There are also generic factors that may increase the risk of uric acid stones.

Ali Ghahary
Dr. Ali Ghahary practices at Brentwood Medical Clinic in Burnaby, BC. Click here for clinic directions and contact information.

For individuals prone to developing kidney stones, Vancouver physician Dr. Ali Ghahary suggests controlling the intake of foods that are high in calcium and oxalate such as beets, chocolate, tea, coffee, cola, nuts, strawberries, and spinach.

For prevention of kidney stones, HealthLink BC also recommends drinking 10 to 12 cups of water per day and eating foods that come from plant-based protein sources such as dried lentils, peas, beans and tofu. You should also limit packaged foods and replace salt with things like herbs, lemon or lime zest/juice, garlic and ginger – and absolutely avoid alcohol! You should also use caution when taking calcium supplements as they can also lead to an increased risk of kidney stones.

While kidney stones are usually passed through urination (something that can cause severe discomfort), depending on the size and location of the stones you may require a procedure known as ESWL (Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy). This procedure uses sound wave vibrations to break the stones into tiny fragments, making them easier to pass in your urine. If this is unsuccessful, surgery may then be required.

If you would like more information on kidney stones, you can connect with Dr. Ali Ghahary on social media platforms such as Twitter  at http://twitter.com/dralighahary, and Linkedin.

For any questions you have about kidney stones, or if you suspect you may have kidney stones, Dr. Ali Ghahary is available to see walk-in patients every Monday and Wednesday from 2 PM to 8 PM, Fridays from 12 PM to 4 PM, and Sundays from 1 PM to 6 PM. Hours are dependent on patient volume, so make sure you take a look at the clinic’s walk-in schedule and contact them to ensure they are still accepting patients on the day you choose to attend.

How the Kidneys Function

The kidneys – two fist-sized, bean-shaped organs that are located just below the ribcage – are responsible for removing any excess fluid or waste from the body, in addition to keeping electrolyte levels stable and creating hormones that make red blood cells, regulate blood pressure, and even help make your bones strong.

First, we’ll take a look at how the kidneys function…

Each kidney is made up of filtering units known as nephrons that filter small amounts of blood. The nephrons include their own filter known as the glomerulus which allows waste to pass through it, with the final product turning into urine. Urine flows from the kidneys to the bladder through two thin tubes located on each side of the bladder known as ureters. The kidneys filter approximately 150 quarts of blood each day, producing 1 to 2 quarts of urine. When our kidneys don’t work properly, the production of urine can slow down and even stop completely, resulting in kidney failure and the need for kidney dialysis to help with the removal of leftover fluid from the body.

Kidney failure can occur from a number of acute or chronic situations. For example, if you have suffered direct damage to your kidneys, have been diagnosed with a condition that can significantly slow down blood flow to the kidneys, or blocked ureters where waste is unable to leave your body. Conditions that can slow blood flow and lead to kidney failure include blood loss, heart attack or heart disease, infections, liver failure and dehydration. Certain diseases, damage and other agents such as blood clots, lupus, and multiple myeloma can also lead to acute kidney failure, as well as toxins such as alcohol and drug use. You are at a greater risk of developing kidney failure if you are at an advanced age, have been diagnosed with heart failure, liver disease or peripheral artery disease. With acute kidney failure, the function of the kidneys is lost rapidly. However, for acute kidney failure to occur, both kidneys must be damaged. If only one kidney is damaged, it can be removed and you will still be able to have normal function with the remaining kidney. If both kidneys are damaged then a kidney transplant may be required.

It is important to note that acute kidney failure usually co-occurs with other medical conditions, both of which can rapidly worsen if not appropriately treated, hence why it is important to see your physician for annual checkups.

Dr. Ali Ghahary, who practices in the city of Vancouver, is available to see patients on a walk-in basis and is happy to answer any questions you may have about the kidneys and how they function. Dr. Ghahary currently practices at Brentwood Medical Clinic in Burnaby, British Columbia. For his complete schedule, visit the clinic website at http://brentwoodwalk-inclinic.com. Click here for directions to the clinic.