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Gastroenterology | Private Healthcare | LivingCare Medical Services

Gastroenterology

You may have been referred to see a  Gastroenterologist at LivingCare because:

  • You may have Dyspepsia symptoms e.g. heartburn, reflux, epigastric pain, bloating, nausea and fullness
  • You may have unresolved gastrointestinal symptoms
  • You may need an endoscopic examination (Small camera inserted through throat/back passage) or treatment trial but would benefit from seeing a Gastroenterologist first
  • Irritable bowel syndrome type symptoms
  • Suspected malabsorption e.g. coeliac disease, lactose intolerance

See below further information on what LivingCare’s Gastroenterology service can offer:

Heartburn is a burning sensation behind the breastbone that results from the reflux (back flow) of acid and other stomach contents from the stomach into the esophagus (swallowing tube). Normally, acid should remain in the stomach when a meal is eaten. Heartburn arises when the "valve" (called the lower esophageal sphincter) between the esophagus and the stomach relaxes abnormally.

How can I control my heartburn?

The control of heartburn varies greatly among individuals. If heartburn is mild and occurs only intermittently, it is important for each person to determine what precipitated it. For example, if heartburn occurs only when eating late at night, one should avoid eating within three hours of going to bed. In addition, if heartburn occurs only after eating certain foods or after consuming large quantities of coffee, these foods should be avoided. In general, we recommend the following measures to relieve heartburn:

  • Use brick blocks to elevate the head of the bed between 4 and 6 inches. Extra pillows should not be used as they may actually aggravate heartburn. If bricks become uncomfortable for you or your partner, the use of a firm wedge to elevate your trunk and head can be substituted. 
  • Avoid coffee of any type (including decaffeinated), tomatoes and tomato products, citrus fruits and juices, chocolate, mints, caffeinated beverages, alcoholic drinks and fatty foods. 
  • Do not lie down for at least 3 hours after eating a meal. 
  • Stop smoking. 
  • Lose weight if you are overweight and avoid wearing tight fitting garments. 
  • Use various over-the-counter medications according to the severity of your heartburn. In general, mild intermittent episodes of heartburn can be treated effectively with antacids. Liquid antacids work more rapidly and more effectively than tablets. Antacids include Mylanta, Maalox, Tums or any product in a local pharmacy that contain a mixture of magnesium hydroxide and aluminum hydroxide or calcium carbonate. If heartburn occurs more frequently, the use of over-the-counter H2-blockers such as Pepcid-AC, Tagamet-HB or Zantac-75 can be used. H2-blockers work most effectively if taken before heartburn occurs. If heartburn occurs less than two or three times a week, the episodes can also be treated with a combination of an antacid and an H2-blocker. This combination provides immediate and sustained relief. If heartburn is occurring more frequently than two or three times a week, it is important that you consult a gastroenterologist to determine the severity of your heartburn and whether or not further tests may be indicated.

What can LivingCare offer?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder of the intestine that leads to crampy pain, gas, bloating and changes in bowel habits. Some people with IBS have constipation, others have diarrhea and some people experience both. Sometimes a person with IBS has the urge to move the bowels but cannot do so. The cause of IBS is unknown and while there is no cure, effective treatment is available.

What can LivingCare offer for IBS?

 

Coeliac disease is a common digestive condition where a person has an adverse reaction to gluten. Eating foods containing gluten can trigger a range of symptoms, such as:

  • diarrhoea, which may smell particularly unpleasant
  • bloating and flatulence (passing wind)
  • abdominal pain
  • weight loss
  • feeling tired all the time as a result of  malnutrition (not getting enough nutrients from food)
  • children not growing at the expected rate

Symptoms can range from mild to severe.

Coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition. This is where the immune system – the body's defence against infection – mistakenly attacks healthy tissue. 

Coeliac disease isn't an allergy or an intolerance to gluten. 

In cases of coeliac disease, the immune system mistakes substances found inside gluten as a threat to the body and attacks them.

This damages the surface of the small bowel (intestines), disrupting the body's ability to absorb nutrients from food.

Exactly what causes the immune system to act in this way is still not entirely clear, although a combination of a person's genetic make-up and the environment appear to play a part.

What can LivingCare offer?

Lactose intolerance is a common digestive problem where the body is unable to digest lactose, a type of sugar mainly found in milk and dairy products.

Symptoms of lactose intolerance usually develop within a few hours of consuming food or drink that contains lactose. They may include:

  • flatulence (wind)
  • diarrhoea
  • bloated stomach
  • stomach cramps and pains
  • stomach rumbling
  • feeling sick

The severity of your symptoms and when they appear depends on the amount of lactose you've consumed.

Some people may still be able to drink a small glass of milk without triggering any symptoms, while others may not even be able to have milk in their tea or coffee. 

What can LivingCare offer? 

Endoscopy

An Endoscopy is a procedure that allows a doctor to look inside your oesophagus (the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach), your stomach and the first part of your small intestine (duodenum).

It’s performed using a narrow, flexible, telescopic camera called a gastroscope or endoscope. The gastroscope is swallowed and passed down your oesophagus into your stomach and then into the duodenum.

An endoscopy can help find out what is causing symptoms such as:

  • indigestion
  • heartburn
  • repeated vomiting or vomiting blood
  • long-term abdominal (tummy) pain
  • difficulty swallowing
  • weight loss
  • anaemia 

It's also used to help diagnose certain gastrointestinal conditions such as:

  • coeliac disease
  • reflux oesophagitis (inflammation and damage to your oesophagus usually caused by stomach acid)
  • ulcers
  • Barrett's oesophagus
  • cancer of the oesophagus and stomach

An endoscopy can be used to see if there are any growths or ulcers in your oesophagus, stomach or duodenum, and can be used to take a biopsy, remove any blockages and to stretch or widen a narrowed segment of your oesophagus.

What can LivingCare offer?

Click here to be redirected to LivingCare’s Endoscopy information page where we will explain what to expect when having an Endoscopy with us.