The Link Between Seasonal Allergies and Reflux

While many may think of seasonal allergies happening in the spring along with blooming flowers, fall can also be a difficult time for those who are allergic. Ragweed, dust, mold, mildew, and the removal of fall crops are just some of the possible fall triggers for allergy sufferers. What many people don’t know is that allergies can be a big issue for people dealing with acid reflux disease. Separate from food allergies, seasonal allergies can also play a role in exacerbating the symptoms of acid reflux.

The link between seasonal allergies and acid reflux disease is that as allergic response becomes more active, one has more nasal drip, and more nasal drip leads to more acid, and that acid can then reflux up into the nasal passages and make the whole cycle even worse. In addition, one of the ways that seasonal allergies can aggravate acid reflux disease is the pressure from coughing or sneezing. This pressure can temporarily weaken the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) and allow stomach contents to splash into the esophagus. In order to get the added acid reflux pain under control, suffers also need to get the drainage, sneezing and coughing under control.

The first line of defense in the seasonal allergy arsenal is generally the use of antihistamines. Medications provide a way to lessen the reaction the body has to the histamines produced by allergies. These medications can help many people deal with their allergies without any further treatments.

Senior man with reflux

If you do need antihistamines in the pollen season, remember that they can dehydrate and cause constipation. The latter is also a huge reflux trigger. Be sure to drink plenty of water and gradually increase your fiber intake to counteract any unpleasant side effects. You don’t want to trade one reflux trigger for another.

There are a few things that you can do this time of year to help lessen your increased acid reflux symptoms due to allergies:

  • Even though the weather this time of year can be gorgeous, keep the windows closed in at least one room of your house. Spending time in this room throughout the day will give your entire bodily system a break from the environmental stress being placed on it.
  • Shower and change clothes after working or being outside. Most aller
    gens cannot be seen. Especially on a windy day, just assume that if you have been outside, you are wearing allergens when you come inside.
  • Be proactive with your reflux medication and your allergy medication this time of year. Reflux comes in waves. One of the best ways to manage reflux is to understand ahead of time when your reflux may be troublesome and manage accordingly. An antihistamine can be helpful. It works by blocking a certain natural substance (histamine) that your body makes during an allergic reaction. This medication can also slow down your runny nose and nasal drip whichin turn can help your reflux symptoms.
  • Do not experiment with new foods. Keep your eating very simple and reflux friendly until at least the first frost in your area.
  • Avoid raw fruits and vegetables. Allergens can be found in our environment and also in raw fruits and some vegetables. These same foods can often be better tolerated cooked. When foods are heated, the proteins are distorted and the immune system no longer recognizes the food as a problem.

If you live in the Las Vegas area and are suffering from acid reflux. Schedule a consultation at VIP Surg. We can help find the right treatment for you.

 

Eating in Moderation: What Does that Really Mean?

“Everything in moderation,” says a co-worker, dipping the tines of her fork into her low-fat salad dressing.

“Everything in moderation,” says a friend helping himself to a third scoop of ice cream.

What is moderation? If this concept of moderation confuses you, you’re not alone. Everyone appears to define it differently. Eating in moderation is a subjective term, meaning something slightly different depending on your perspective. Individual perception of reasonable limits opens the door to a wide variety of complex answers for a seemingly simple question.

On one end of the spectrum, there are those who don’t put much thought into eating a healthy and well-balanced diet. Convenience and taste are the main factors influencing their dietary decisions.

On the opposite end, one may find those who label food as either wholesome and pure or downright evil, with seldom anything in between. Typical “bad” foods such as sugar, carbs, dairy, and processed or refined foods are avoided at all costs.

Both extremes can have detrimental effects on health. Eating calorie-dense foods high in sugar, fat, and salt on a regular basis, combined with a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.

However, cutting out entire food groups without replacing missing nutrients can also pose problems. While “clean eating” might come in an attractive package, severe restrictions can lead to cycles of binge eating, feelings of guilt and shame, and further restriction.

Toward which end of the spectrum do you tend to lean? Where is the fine middle ground?

Eating in moderation means you do not consume more calories than your body needs to function properly. A person who does not eat a moderate number of calories gains weight, risking obesity and its associated illnesses.

The quality of the food is also an important factor when talking about eating in moderation. Consuming food your body does not need or want, such as excess sugar and fat has a detrimental effect on your body.

Eating in moderation means consuming nutritionally dense food so your body gets all the vitamins and minerals it needs without harmful or needless substances. According to the MyPlate scheme from the USDA, a healthy dinner plate contains lean protein, whole-grain foods, fruits and vegetables.

Plan your plate to ensure you are eating the proper foods in moderation. Draw an imaginary line down the middle of your plate. Fill the left half your plate with fruits and vegetables. Draw another imaginary line to cut the right half of your plate into two quarters. Fill one section with lean meat and put whole-grain products in the other section.

Moderation is about a healthy relationship with food – balancing the pleasure of eating with our basic need for sustenance. It is realizing that eating one piece of cake a week probably won’t kill you, but that doing so everyday just might.

If you live in the Las Vegas area and are fighting obesity and metabolic disease, schedule a consultation at VIP SURG. We can help you find the right treatment for your unique situation.

The True Size of the American Obesity Epidemic

To understand the true magnitude of the American obesity epidemic, we first need to understand what it really means to be overweight. Doctors and nutritionists classify people as either underweight, healthy weight, overweight, or obese. These different classifications are determined by body mass index (BMI), or a measure of body fat based on your height and weight.

To get a basic idea, this chart from the CDC approximates what that means for someone who is 5’9” tall.

Height Weight Range BMI Considered
Source: CDC      
5′ 9″ 124 lbs or less Below 18.5 Underweight
  125 lbs to 168 lbs 18.5 to 24.9 Healthy weight
  169 lbs to 202 lbs 25.0 to 29.9 Overweight
  203 lbs or more 30 or higher Obese

As for what is driving America’s chronic weight problem, there are no definite answers. Scientific studies often reach conflicting conclusions. Many theories are out there, but the preponderance of evidence points to the two causes most people already suspect: too much food and too little exercise.

Bigger portions, confusing “diet” for “nutrition,” and lack of exercise are a deadly combination. Today, each American puts away an average of 195lbs of meat every year, compared to just 138lbs in the 1950’s. Consumption of added fats also shot up by around two thirds over the same period, and grain consumption rose 45% since 1970.

Research published by the World Health Organization found that a rise in fast food sales correlated to a rise in body mass index, and Americans are notorious for their fast-food consumption. It is not just how much we eat, but what we eat.

The role of diet in the obesity epidemic is obviously major, but it’s also complex. Consumers are sent mixed messages when it comes to what to eat and how much. Larger portions, processed packaged food, and drive-thru meals are branded as almost classically American — fast, cheap, filling, and delicious, but yet we spend billions of dollars annually on weight loss schemes.

Lack of exercise is also a major culprit in the obesity epidemic. A far greater majority of us are sitting throughout our workday. According to one study, only 20% of today’s jobs require at least moderate physical activity, as opposed to 50% of jobs in 1960. Other research suggests Americans burn 120 to 140 fewer calories a day than they did 50 years ago. Add this to the higher number of calories we are packing in, and we get a perfect recipe for weight gain.

A number of other factors are thought to play a role in the obesity epidemic, such as the in- utero effects of smoking and excessive weight gain in pregnant mothers. Poor sleep, stress, and lower rates of breastfeeding are also thought to contribute to a child’s long-term obesity risk. Of course, these factors are not explicit or solitary causes of obesity, but they are reliable indicators of the kinds of systemic problems contributing to this crisis.

In the end, though, we can’t lose sight of the big picture. Over the past years, diet fads have come and gone, with people rushing to blame red meat, dairy, wheat, fat, sugar, etc. for making them fat, but in reality, the problem is much simpler. Genetics and age do strongly influence metabolism, but as the CDC points out, weight gain and loss is primarily a formula of total calories consumed versus total calories used.

If you are looking for answers to debilitating obesity and the health issues that often accompany the extra weight, contact VIP Surg at (702) 487-6006. We can help you find the right treatment for your unique situation.

A pair of female feet on a bathroom scale

Normal Heartburn or GERD?

Acid reflux is a serious disorder that can and must be treated to prevent symptoms and stave off potentially life-threatening consequences. Known medically and commercially as GERD, the acronym for gastroesophageal reflux disease, repeated bathing of the soft tissues of the esophagus with corrosive stomach acid can seriously damage them and even cause esophageal cancer, which is often fatal.

Acid reflux is more than just a nuisance. It involves the backward flow of stomach acid into the tissues above it. It results when the lower esophageal sphincter, a ring of muscle between the esophagus and the stomach, fails to close tightly enough to prevent the contents of the stomach from moving up instead of down. Sometimes the upper sphincter, between the esophagus and the throat, malfunctions as well.

Contrary to what many believe, heartburn is but one of the many symptoms of GERD, and failure to recognize the others when heartburn is not among them can result in harmful untreated reflux. In addition to indigestion, GERD can cause:

  • persistent dry cough
  • sore throat
  • frequent throat clearing
  • hoarseness
  • burping or hiccups
  • bloating
  • difficulty swallowing
  • a sensation of a lump in the throat

If, when faced with such an otherwise unexplainable symptom, your doctor fails to thinkhand holding stethoscope with GERD word. medical concept of GERD as a possible reason, you might suggest it yourself. An examination of the esophagus may be the only way to find out if someone without obvious heartburn has acid reflux but doesn’t know it.

One characteristic often associated with acid reflux — being overweight, especially with abdominal obesity — largely explains why the condition has become so common in Western countries. Someone with a body mass index in the overweight range is almost twice as likely to have GERD as a person of normal weight. Losing weight is one of the best ways to find relief without having to rely on medication. Other ways to relieve GERD symptoms include:

  • quitting smoking
  • limiting alcohol
  • avoiding carbonated drinks
  • eating five or six small meals a day rather than one or two big ones
  • avoiding eating within three hours of bedtime
  • Raising the head of the bed by six inches or more

If you suffer from GERD and are looking for treatment, schedule an appointment with Dr. Shawn Tsuda. Among other procedures, Dr. Tsuda specializes in a revolutionary treatment for GERD called LINX. Find out if it’s right for you.

 

Most Common Surgical Treatments for Clinically Severe Obesity

The obesity epidemic continues to grow in our country, and with obesity comes a whole host of additional health risks, like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis and stroke. Those looking to reduce these obesity-related health risks are turning to bariatric or medical weight-loss surgeries like gastric bypass.

With weight-loss surgery, your surgeon makes changes to your stomach or small intestine, or both. The procedure resolves diabetes 80 percent of the time, and patients lose an average of 70 percent of extra weight. However, gastric bypass isn’t the only choice. Learn about your options:

Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Band – The surgeon puts a small band around the top of your stomach. The band has a small balloon inside it that controls how tight or loose the band is. The band limits how much food can go into your stomach. This surgery is done using a laparoscope. Advantages include:

  • Minimally invasive with small incisions
  • Short hospital stay
  • Adjustable without additional surgery
  • Can support pregnancy
  • Removable at any time

Laparoscopic Gastric Sleeve – This surgery removes most of the stomach and leaves only a narrow section of the upper part of the stomach, called a gastric sleeve. The surgery may also curb the hunger hormone ghrelin, so you eat less. Advantages include:

  • No cutting, bypassing, or stapling of the intestine
  • Little concern about vitamin and calcium absorption
  • No adjustments or artificial devices put into place
  • Most foods are possible

Laparoscopic Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass Surgery – The surgeon leaves only a very small part of the stomach (called the pouch). That pouch can’t hold a lot of food, so you eat less. The food you eat bypasses the rest of the stomach, going straight from the pouch to your small intestine. This surgery can often be done through several small incisions using a camera to see inside (laparoscope). Doctors can also perform a mini-gastric bypass, which is a similar procedure also done through a laparoscope. Advantages include:

  • Tiny incisions, resulting is less scarring and easier healing
  • Excellent cosmetic result
  • Little pain
  • Few wound complications
  • Fast recovery
  • Short hospital stay
  • Resuming physical activity soon
  • Little risk of hernia formation

Duodenal Switch- This is complicated surgery that removes most of the stomach and uses a gastric sleeve to bypass most of your small intestine. It limits how much you can eat. It also means your body doesn’t get as much of a chance to absorb nutrients from your food, which could mean you don’t get enough of the vitamins and minerals you need. Advantages include:

  • Results in greater weight loss than other methods, i.e. 60 – 70% percent excess weight loss or greater, at 5 year follow up
  • Allows patients to eventually eat near normal meals
  • Reduces the absorption of fat by 70 percent or more
  • Causes favorable changes in gut hormones to reduce appetite and improve satiety
  • Is the most effective against diabetes compared to other methods

If you’re considering bariatric surgery, schedule an appointment with Dr. Shawn Tsuda. He can help you decide which, if any, of these treatments is right for your unique situation.Fat man running

 

Does your Diet Support your Warm-Weather Exercise Regimen?

Spring is here, and you might be changing up your fitness routine with warm weather in mind. However, just taking your exercise outside and hydrating more might not cut it for your new regimen. You need to properly fuel your body for the exercise you are doing.

Whether you’re training for fat-loss, a race personal best or just fun, how you fuel your body around the clock – not just immediately before or after exercise – affects your workouts. Try to avoid starving and then feasting; just stay fed by regularly eating while you’re awake. By eating regularly throughout the day, you can largely eliminate the need to worry about dedicated pre- and post-workout meals. Just schedule your workout between your regular meals.

Americans are notorious for getting the bulk of their protein intake at dinner. However, 2014 research published in the Journal of Nutrition shows that simply distributing your regular protein intake more evenly throughout the day improves the body’s ability to build lean muscle. Whatever your sport or workout goal, having healthy levels of muscle will help you reach it. Eat at least 25 to 30 grams of protein per meal. And, remember, those meals should be frequent.

It is important to boost your hydration factor. Most of us are chronically dehydrated, which can take a toll on your ability to focus and concentrate when exercising, and it can impair your strength and power. Research in the Journal of Athletic Training also shows that dehydration can worsen post-exercise muscle soreness. During exercise, aim to drink 6 to 8 ounces of water every 15 to 30 minutes. Ideally, when you finish your workout, your weight should be no more than 2 percent less than your starting weight. Any additional losses in weight point to significant dehydration.

Cutting down on packaged foods and focusing on nature-made foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy and meats is also important. Put junk in, and you can expect to get junk out.

Whatever your exercise goals or routines, know that you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. After all, food is fuel. Without the right fuel in the tank, you’re not going to get where you want to go.

If you’re in the Las Vegas area and are interested in weight-loss surgery, schedule an appointment with Dr. Shawn Tsuda. He can help you find the perfect treatment for your situation.Screen Shot 2017-04-10 at 11.19.07 AM

Gallstones and Gallbladder Disease

Some people think of their gallbladder as being “expendable”. Not that anybody wants any of their organs to be removed, but since many people live a seemingly normal life after getting their gallbladder removed, many people don’t think their gallbladder plays an important role in their overall health. After all, how important can your gallbladder be if you can do just fine after it’s surgically removed? The gallbladder actually plays a very important role in your body. It is an essential part of the digestive system.

In the United States, about a million new cases of gallstone disease are diagnosed each year, and some 800,000 operations are performed to treat gallstones, making it the most common gastrointestinal disorder requiring hospitalization. Gallstones or gallbladder disease can quickly turn a great meal into a period of misery.

Gallstone disease is the most common disorder affecting the body’s biliary system, the network of organs and ducts that create, transport, store, and release bile. Bile is a thick fluid, made in the liver and stored in the gallbladder, which acts in the small intestine to digest fat. Bile contains cholesterol, water, proteins, bilirubin (a breakdown product from blood cells), bile salts (the chemicals necessary to digest fat), and small amounts of copper or other materials. If the chemical balance of bile contains too much of any of these components, particularly of cholesterol, crystals form and can harden into stones.

Bile is stored in the Gallbladder and is concentrated up to five times by the removal of water. Gallstones form when liquid stored in the gallbladder hardens into pieces of stone-like material. Bile contains water, cholesterol, bilirubin and other substances. Ideally these minerals remain in liquid form until they are passed out of the body. However, excessive amounts of these minerals in bile can cause them to crystallize.

These small crystals that form out of the saturated bile may begin to clump together. Any existing crystals makes it easier for other crystals to form. If they stay in the gallbladder too long, the crystals gradually grow larger until they become a gallstone so large that it cannot pass through the biliary ducts.

In terms of size, gallstones can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball. A person can form one large stone in his or her gallbladder, or hundreds! About 10 percent of the population has gallstones, but the vast majority experiences no symptoms and need no treatment. However, in 1 percent to 2 percent of these people, gallstones can cause problems by lodging in bile ducts, stopping the flow of bile or digestive enzymes, and leading to severe abdominal pain, vomiting, inflammation, and even life-threatening infection.

Gallstone attack has some classic symptoms:

The most agonizing pain is experienced in the upper right part of the abdomen under the ribs. Usually it appears suddenly, sometimes an hour or two after eating a fatty meal. The pain may get worse quickly, and then last for several hours. Many times the pain may radiate to the back between the shoulder blades or under the right shoulder. Inhaling deeply, or moving, often makes the pain worse. The primary therapy for gallstones that are causing pain, inflammation, or infection is removal of the gallbladder.

A number of factors put people at higher risk of gallstones:

  • Gender: Women between the ages of 20 and 60 are 3 times more likely to develop gallstones than are men in the same age group. By age 60, 20 percent of American women have gallstones.
  • Age: The incidence of gallstone disease increases with age.
  • Genetics: Family history and ethnicity are critical risk factors in development of gallstones, though no gene responsible for gallstone formation has yet been discovered. African-Americans seem to have lower rates of gallstone disease than American Indians, whites, or Hispanics.
  • Obesity: Obesity is a significant risk factor, particularly for women. Obesity also slows down the emptying of the gallbladder.
  • Location of body fat: Belly fat, that spare tire around the middle, dramatically increases the chance of developing stones.
  • Diabetes: People with diabetes often have high levels of triglycerides in their blood, and these fatty acids tend to increase the risk of gallstones.

Even if you’re not at risk for gallstones, it is wise to maintain a healthy body weight, by among other things, sticking to a diet that is low in fat and cholesterol and high in fiber.

If you are in the Las Vegas area and suffering with gallstones or gallbladder disease, schedule a consultation with Dr. Shawn Tsuda.

Gallbladder Disease - Doctor with chalkboard on white background