Call GI North Today!

(404) 446-0600

View the GI North Facebook Page!


View the GI North Twitter Page!


View the GI North YouTube Page!


View the GI North Blog!


GI North Blog

photo of a tablet with the diagnosis colon cancer on the display | GI NorthFamily medical history can be an invaluable tool in assessing one’s own risk of similar conditions. With Lynch syndrome, a condition also known as hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC), knowing your family history is not only helpful, it may be life-saving.

Understanding Lynch syndrome

HNPCC is the most common form of hereditary colon cancer, accounting for up to 5 percent of all cases each year. This equates to around 7,500 new cases of HNPCC in the United States annually. HNPCC is caused by a mutation in one of the genes that help DNA to repair itself.

Some genetic disorders are autosomal recessive, meaning that they require two copies of a defective gene (one from each parent) in order for the disease to occur. HNPCC is an autosomal dominant disorder, meaning that inheriting the mutated gene from only one parent is enough to cause the condition to develop. This also means that, in a family with one affected parent, about one-half of the children will also be affected.

Cancer screening and HNPCC

Oftentimes, the development of colon cancer is preceded for many years by the formation of polyps. These serve as a kind of ‘red flag’ that can be detected and removed during routine or diagnostic tests such as colonoscopy. Removal of colon polyps prevents these areas of abnormal tissue from developing into cancerous lesions.

In HNPCC, polyps do not form, leaving no early warning signs to find or treat. Furthermore, colon cancer develops at a much younger age and progresses far more rapidly for people with HNPCC, making awareness of a family history of HNPCC of utmost importance for early screening and prevention. Whereas colon cancer does not tend to arise in the general population until around the age of retirement, people with HNPCC should expect to begin regular colon cancer screening exams in their 20s.

Living with Lynch syndrome

Regular cancer screening is essential to living with Lynch syndrome. People with HNPCC have a 70-80% lifetime risk of developing colon cancer. People with HNPCC who have already been diagnosed with a metastatic colon cancer, are at a significantly increased risk of developing another primary colon cancer. HNPCC also carries with it an increased risk for other forms of cancer, such as endometrial, pancreatic and stomach cancer.

With early cancer detection and treatment, people living with Lynch syndrome can expect to lead healthy and full lives. Initiation of regular colorectal and other forms of cancer screening drastically reduces the morbidity and mortality rates associated with HNPCC. Anyone with Lynch syndrome should undergo a colonoscopy every 1-2 years from the age of 20-25 years or 5 years before the first diagnosed colorectal cancer in the family, whichever is earlier. After the age of 35-40 years, colonoscopy should be performed every year.

Finding your HNPCC healthcare team

While this article is intended to be informative, it cannot take the place of professional medical advice. If you have concerns regarding your risk of HNPCC-associated health conditions, please contact a healthcare provider near you.

Consider making GI North your Lynch syndrome support team. Specialists in the diagnosis and treatment of gastrointestinal conditions, Dr. Cofrancesco and Dr. Quijano make GI North your neighborhood destination for information, treatment and support for any issue related to HNPCC or other GI disorders. For appointments in Spanish, please ask for Dr. Quijano. The GI North location makes GI health services readily accessible to the Cumming, Alpharetta, Milton, Roswell, Canton, and Suwanee, Georgia areas.

© 2017 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

photo of kale salad in white bowl on wooden table | GI NorthKale is an increasingly popular vegetable that can be used in a variety of ways such as in salad, soup or steamed. As well, this hearty vegetable can be found in chips and crackers. With thorough research, studies show that kale is not a “new” food after all. In fact, has been a food served in many cultures since Roman times. And conferring too many health professionals, kale is a great superfood that is rich in vitamins and health giving properties. According to WebMD, the dark and leafy green has just 33 calories per cup and offers a plethora of benefits:

  • About 3 grams of protein
  • High in vitamins A, C, and K
  • A lot of fiber content that keeps you feeling full
  • Contains alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid)
  • Rich in folate (an important nutrient for brain development)
  • Has zeaxanthin and lutein to guard against macular degeneration
  • Nearly 2.5 grams of fiber (helps with digestion and managing blood sugar)
  • High in minerals such as calcium, potassium, phosphorus, manganese and zinc

High in Digestive Fiber

Kale is very rich in fiber making it easy to digest. This healthy green can also help combat irregular bowel movements and constipation. And since it has minimal calories and high nutrition, it is a great food to add to any weight-loss diet plan. In addition, kale improves your metabolism and help hydrate the body.

Gastrointestinal Problems

Kale contains glucosinolate isothiocyanate (ITC) which fights the growth of helicobacter pylori; bacteria in the stomach lining that may cause gastric cancer. However, some researchers suggest that consuming high amounts of kale may cause gastrointestinal problems. Specialists feel this is because the vegetable contains sorbitol which is a type of sugar that is hard to digest. Some of the issues associated with the over consumption of kale include gas, diarrhea, bloating and stomach cramps.

On the contrary, Medical News Today stated that kale far surpasses spinach when it comes to nutrients. In fact, it supports healthy skin and bones plus a healthy digestion system. Not only does kale prevent constipation but it aids in regularity. So if you have difficulty digesting kale, slightly steam it instead of eating it raw. This may eliminate any digestive problems that can be caused by kale. For other concerns, contact a specialist.

GI North

If you have any questions or concerns about your digestion tract, contact GI North. We have a highly trained staff and two leading gastroenterologis, Dr. Cofrancesco and Dr. Quijano.

Affiliated with Northside Hospital Forsyth, GI North utilizes the latest diagnostic technology in the area like screening for colon cancer, colonoscopy and upper endoscopy. Open five days a week and conveniently located in the metro Atlanta communities of Georgia including Alpharetta, Canton, Dahlonega, Dawsonville, Duluth, Johns Creek, Milton and Suwanee.

Whether you suffer from digestive issues or have concerns about digestive symptoms such as stomach ulcers, abdominal pain or heartburn, the professional team at GI North can help. In fact, both Dr. Cofrancesco and Dr. Quijano are renowned for their academic achievements as well as being recipients of several prestigious medical awards. Dr. Quijano has won the American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy Crystal Award for both or both Gender Research and Diversity Minority Research. Dr. Cofrancesco earned the Springfield Academic Achievement Award plus gained entrance into the Beta Beta Beta Biological Honor Society

If you suffer from any type of digestive or gastric distress, contact GI North at 404.446.0600 to schedule an appointment.

Note: This article is not intended to take the place of professional medical advice. If you have any concerns or questions about digestive issues, contact GI North or your physician.

© 2017 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

medical illustration showing gallstones | GI NorthIn ancient medicine, gall (or bile), was described as one of the four humours. The apparent importance of bile led to the development of expressions like “he has a lot of gall!” to describe someone with ample self-confidence. While its actual role is slightly more humble, bile only comes to attention for most people when it causes the formation of gallstones.

The gall and its bladder

Bile is a digestive fluid produced by the liver that helps to breakdown fats and other lipids. Compounds called bile salts play a primary role in the function of bile. Bilirubin, a pigmented compound released during the natural breakdown of old red blood cells, is also found in bile and provides its distinctive yellow-green color. Bile also contains some fats and cholesterol released from the liver.

Bile is collected and concentrated in the gallbladder, a small pear-shaped pouch that sits nestled under the liver. Lipid-containing meals stimulate the release of bile from the gallbladder into the digestive tract to help ensure proper digestion.

Gallstone formation

Changes in the function of the liver or gallbladder can lead to an over-accumulation of normal bile components. Just as an excess accumulation of moisture in the air causes rain to fall, excess bile compounds can begin to clump and precipitate out of the bile as small ‘stones.’

Gallstones are described as either pigmented, because they are comprised of bilirubin, or cholesterol stones. Factors such as obesity or drugs that cause the overproduction of cholesterol by the liver increase the risk of cholesterol stone formation. Decreased activity of the gallbladder, termed hypomobility, leads to super concentrated bile, also referred to as biliary sludge, an important step toward the development of gallstones.

Symptoms of gallstones

Most often, gallstones are asymptomatic. As many as 85% of people who have gallstones do not have any symptoms. For those who have symptoms, one of the most characteristic gallstone symptoms is a sharp pain in the upper right portion of the abdomen that radiates to the back, the right shoulder or shoulder blade.

As gallstone formation progresses; the frequency, nature and severity of symptoms can evolve. In addition to the characteristic location of the abdominal pain, gallstones can be associated with nausea, vomiting, and indigestion that is often worst for several hours after high-fat meals.

Cholecystitis: a serious potential complication

If a gallstone becomes lodged in the duct connecting the gallbladder to the intestines, the resulting block of bile flow can cause inflammation or infection of the gallbladder, a condition referred to as cholecystitis that can be a medical emergency. Symptoms of cholecystitis can include worsening of gallstone symptoms, abdominal tenderness and fever.

Some patients who develop cholecystitis also develop jaundice, a yellow discoloration of the skin caused by the deposition of excess biliary bilirubin in the skin and sclera, the whites of the eyes. Restoration of the flow of bile is key to the treatment of jaundice and other symptoms of gallstone disease.

The right gallstone advice at the right time

While intended to be informative, this article cannot replace professional medical advice. If you are concerned about the potential symptoms of or treatments for gallstones, please contact GI North or a healthcare professional in your area.

Consider turning to GI North for more information on gallstone symptoms and treatments. At GI North, Dr. Simon Cofrancesco and Dr. Sergio Quijano offer comprehensive diagnostics as well as a variety of treatments for gallstones.

Dr. Simon Cofrancesco and Dr. Sergio Quijano lead the GI North team from their office in Cumming, GA and are proud to also serve the Alpharetta, Milton, Roswell, Canton, and Suwanee areas. For medical services in Spanish, please ask for Dr. Sergio Quijano.

© 2017 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.


Close up view of female hands holding blue ribbon for colon cancer awarenessMarch is Colon Cancer Awareness Month. Many people don’t realize that colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer affecting people living in the United States. It’s also the second leading cause of cancer-related fatalities.

Colonoscopy: Who Should Have One?

Colon Cancer Awareness Month exists in order to raise awareness of this highly preventable disease that can be diagnosed and cured when caught in time through colorectal cancer screenings.

The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons recommends that adults begin getting colonoscopy screenings starting at age 50 or even earlier for those with a family history of colon or rectal cancer, or polyps. This procedure is done in an outpatient setting. There is some home preparation involved and very little discomfort. The important aspect of this screening is that your gastroenterologist can identify and remove potentially harmful polyps or take biopsies if necessary during the procedure, making this screening a highly therapeutic and possibly life-saving event. If nothing of any consequence is found, your next colonoscopy is usually planned for 10 years from that screening.

Symptoms That May Indicate the Need for Colon Cancer Screening

If you are not yet 50 years old and have no family history of rectal- or colon-related cancer or polyps, you should still consider contacting your Georgia gastroenterologist if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Blood found in bowel movements or coming from rectum
  • Abdominal pain that is unexplained
  • Weight loss that is unexplained

If you are nearing the age of 50, or if you have any symptoms worrying you, such as those listed above, you may contact the team at GI North. Their two physicians, Dr. Cofrancesco and Dr. Quijano, are highly experienced gastroenterologists. Dr. Quijano speaks fluent Spanish, which is helpful for some patients for whom English is a second language. GI North accepts patients five days a week from all over the north Georgia area including Dahlonega, Dawsonville, Johns Creek, Alpharetta, Milton, Suwanee, Duluth, and Canton. Here at GI North, we take Colon Cancer Awareness Month seriously, and we encourage everyone to take advantage of our advanced technological care and treatment by scheduling your colonoscopy screening.

This article is not meant to take the place of professional medical advice. Please make an appointment to see either Dr. Quijano or Dr. Cofrancesco at your earliest convenience. We diagnose and treat all aspects and conditions that are gastroenterology-related.

© 2017 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

Types of ulcers

Peptic ulcers can occur in several areas of the gastric region: the stomach, the duodenum, or small intestine; or the esophagus, the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach.

  • Gastric and duodenal peptic ulcers can occur at the same time
  • Peptic ulcers can reoccur

Stress and spicy foods do not cause peptic ulcers, but both can make ulcer symptoms worse. Smoking and drinking alcohol also can worsen ulcers and prevent healing.


medical illustration showing diseases of the stomach | GI NorthHelicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria- Experts are not certain how H. pylori is transmitted, although they think it may be spread through contaminated food or water. Studies also suggest that having contact with the stool or vomit of an infected person or even the saliva can spread H. pylori infection. H. pylori has been found in the saliva of some infected people, which means infection can be spread through direct contact with saliva.

H. pylori still remains somewhat of a gastrointestinal mystery. Most people infected with H. pylori never develop ulcers, but some do. Doctors are still searching for the reason why some are afflicted by the virus and others are not.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs):

NSAIDs such as aspirin and ibuprofen are another common cause of peptic ulcers. When used for weeks or months, NSAIDs can irritate or damage the lining of the stomach and digestive tract, and cause an ulcer or make an existing ulcer worse. Experts believe that NSAIDs may interfere with prostaglandins, which help to regulate the protective lining of the stomach. NSAID Ulcers and their complications can be prevented by not taking NSAIDs or by only taking them occasionally and in small doses.

Typical Symptoms

1) Nausea & vomiting
Pain Description – Pain when the stomach is empty, briefly relieved by eating
Emergency Symptoms – Sharp, sudden, persistent, and severe stomach pain
Alarm Symptoms – Bleeding

2) Poor appetite with weight loss
Pain Description – Pain comes and goes for several days or weeks
Emergency Symptoms – Bloody or black stools
Alarm Symptoms – Perforation

3) Bloating or Burping
Pain Description – Pain lasts for minutes to hours
Emergency Symptoms – Bloody vomit or vomit that looks like coffee grounds
Alarm Symptoms – Obstruction


If you have peptic ulcer symptoms, Dr. Simon Cofrancesco or Dr. Sergio Quijano will first ask about use of over-the-counter and prescription medications to rule that out as cause for concern Then tests may be performed to check for H. pylori bacteria. These tests are important because H. pylori-induced ulcers are treated differently from ulcers caused by NSAIDs.
H. pylori can be detected using a blood test, a urea breath test, or a stool antigen test.
The Upper Endoscopy (EGD) or an upper GI Series is recommended for folks around age 50. Both tests are painless and allow doctors to look closely at the stomach and duodenum.


Peptic Ulcers caused by H. pylori are treated with antibiotics to kill the bacteria, reduce stomach acid, and protect the stomach and duodenal lining. Medicines that reduce stomach acid include Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) and Histamine Receptor Blockers (H2 blockers). Both acid-reducing medicines help relieve Peptic Ulcer pain after a few weeks and promote Ulcer healing. While PPIs cannot kill H. pylori, research shows they do help fight the H. pylori infection. Research also shows that after 4 weeks of treatment, patients taking PPIs had earlier pain relief and better healing rates than those taking H2 blockers.

  • Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs): suppress acid production by halting the mechanism that pumps acid into the stomach.
  • Histamine Receptor Blockers (H2 blockers): work by blocking histamine, which stimulates acid secretion.

Dr. Simon Cofrancesco or Dr. Sergio Quijano will prescribe Antibiotics or other medication according to your symptoms and individual diagnosis. Although Antibiotics can cure 80 to 90% of Ulcers caused by H. pylori, eliminating the bacteria can be difficult. You must take all medicines exactly as prescribed, even when the peptic ulcer pain is gone. If infection is still present, ulcers could recur or, less commonly, stomach cancer could develop. Thus, you may need to take more than one round of medication to kill the H. pylori bacteria.

GI North is open five days a week, treating patients from all over north Georgia including Dahlonega, Ga; Dawsonville, GA; Johns Creek, GA; Alpharetta, GA; Milton, GA; Suwanee, GA; Duluth, GA; and Canton. GA. At GI North, you can expect the latest in advanced technological care and treatment as well as personalized attention from Dr. Cofrancesco and Dr. Quijano. If you suffer from peptic ulcer disease, need a colonoscopy, or suffer from gastric distress, contact us at 404.446.0600 to schedule an appointment.

© 2017 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

image of pregnant woman touching her belly with handsDuring your pregnancy, you will likely find that you are experiencing more gastric issues than usual. This is a common occurrence for women, but the fact that it’s normal doesn’t make it any less embarrassing or uncomfortable.

Why Gas Problems Occur During Pregnancy

Pregnancy causes your body to go through many changes. Some of these changes occur in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract and can cause excessive flatulence and gas discomfort. So why are these issues specific to being pregnant?

During the early stages of your pregnancy, your body increases its release of progesterone, a hormone that can slow down digestion, giving gas more time to be produced. Your body’s response is to try and get rid of this excess gas by burping and farting, often up to 18 times a day.

Your uterus, of course, grows larger as your pregnancy progresses. As this happens, your intestines lose room and shift a bit to avoid being too crowded in your abdomen, slowing down digestion even further. Now your ever-larger uterus is pushing on your stomach, giving you an uncomfortable, bloated feeling, especially after eating a big meal.

Controlling embarrassing flatulence becomes especially difficult because the increase in progesterone relaxes your muscles, giving you less control over holding in your gas, as you may want to do in social situations.

What You Can Do About Gas When You’re Pregnant

Do some daily exercise to speed up your digestion and help things move along. Before beginning any exercise plan, however, first consult with your physician. You can do something as simple as taking a walk every day or take an exercise class at a gym that is safe for someone who is pregnant.

Tweak your diet a bit. Certain foods are known to trigger gas whether you’re pregnant or not. Watch out for the foods that cause you gas and try to stay away from them. Some of these foods include:

  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Whole grains
  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • Cabbage

These foods may not make you, in particular, gassy, so track what you eat and note how certain meals affect you.

Keep in mind that carbonated drinks make you gassy, as do fatty, fried foods.

Eat smaller meals and eat them more frequently throughout the day rather than having one huge meal in the evening.

Drink a lot of water to avoid constipation, another GI-related issue with pregnancy.

When To Consult a Doctor

If you are experiencing continued gastric issues, including constipation, diarrhea, or bloody stools during pregnancy, be sure you are drinking enough water during the day and consult the physicians at GI North for an evaluation. The gastroenterologists at GI North are located in Cumming, Georgia and also serve the surrounding areas of Alpharetta, Milton, Roswell, Canton, and Suwanee.

Dr. Simon Cofrancesco and Dr. Sergio Quijano are dedicated to the care and comfort of their patients. Dr. Quijano, a native of Lima, Peru, who grew up in New York City, speaks fluent Spanish. Dr. Cofrancesco opened GI North in 2011. Call the friendly staff at GI North to set up an appointment or request more information.

© 2017 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

medical illustration showing stomach ulcers | GI NorthGastric ulcers are open sores located in your stomach. Duodenal ulcers are found in the upper section of your small intestine. Both types of ulcers can cause heartburn and stomach pain, but they can become more dangerous if they begin to bleed.

Causes of Bleeding Ulcer

A bleeding ulcer can be the result of inflammation of the stomach lining caused by H. pylori, a bacterial infection. You can also suffer from this type of ulcer if you take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) on a regular basis. NSAIDs can be hard on your stomach because they make it more difficult to protect that area and your small intestine from stomach acids. Other medications, such as steroids, anticoagulants, and low-dose aspirins can also increase your chances of developing ulcers. Factors that can affect the development of a bleeding ulcer include smoking, excessive drinking, excess stomach acid production, and radiation therapy.

Treatment for a Bleeding Ulcer

The underlying cause of an ulcer will determine the treatment methods for your condition. If you have untreated ulcers that have worsened over time, serious health complications can arise, such as a bleeding ulcer. A bleeding ulcer is causing an internal loss of blood that can become significant.

If H. pylori tests come back positive for that infection, your physician may prescribe a combination of antibiotics for the infection and proton pump inhibitors to lessen the amount of acids in the stomach, allowing your ulcer to heal.

An upper endoscopy procedure can be conducted to diagnose and treat a bleeding ulcer. Surgery may be necessary if a bleeding ulcer has caused a hole in the stomach lining or if the bleeding cannot be stopped with an endoscope.

Listen To Your Body

If you are concerned about bleeding in the digestive tract or have any other digestive system concerns, please call the staff at GI North, conveniently located in Cumming, Georgia, to make an appointment with one of our specialists. Dr. Cofrancesco and Dr. Quijano are highly experienced gastroenterologists who specialize in diagnosing and treating digestive issues.

Dr. Cofrancesco is a board certified gastroenterologist who founded GI North in 2011. Dr. Quijano is double board certified in internal medicine and gastroenterology, and he speaks fluent Spanish. Both physicians at GI North are pleased to be able to serve the residents of Cumming in addition to the surrounding areas of Alpharetta, Roswell, Canton, and Suwanee.

The information in this article is not meant to take the place of professional medical advice. Please make an appointment with your physician or call us at GI North for more information.

© 2017 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

help with anal cancer | GI North | North Atlanta areaAs with other malignant diseases, early detection is an essential tool in treating cancers of the digestive tract. Fortunately, those portions of the digestive tract near the beginning and end can be more readily examined, making early detection for conditions such as anal cancer a real possibility. Understanding the risks for developing anal cancer can help make it clear why a visit to a gastroenterologist is a worthwhile and healthy habit.

Locating anal cancer

The anus is the final portion of the digestive tract where two ring-like sphincter muscles control the passage of solid waste from the body. Stool that has been stored in the rectum passes through the approximately 1½” anal canal before being released. As such, disorders of the anus or anal canal can cause symptoms during defecation. The anus is made of both skin and intestine, making conditions that affect both of these tissue-types relevant for the anus.

Risks for anal cancer

Risk factors increase the chance of getting cancer. Not everyone who develops cancer had specific risk factors nor does everyone with risk factors develop cancer. While this may inspire some to take chances with risk factors for cancer, a gamble on health is not a bet worth taking.

An important risk factor in the development of anal cancer is infection with the human papilloma virus (HPV). This is the same virus that causes cervical cancer in women, placing women with cancer of the cervix at an increased risk for also developing cancer of the anus. HPV can also cause cancer of the vagina, vulva, penis and throat.

Any type of skin-to-skin contact with an infected area of the body can cause HPV to spread to other parts of one’s body or to another person. Due to the body sites HPV infects, sexual and intimate contact is an important source of HPV infection. Due to the associated increased risk for HPV infection, multiple sexual partners and receptive anal intercourse are important risk factors in the development of anal cancer. The risk is also increased by cigarette smoking, being age 50 or older, anal fistulas or frequent anal redness, swelling and soreness from any cause.

Symptoms of anal cancer

Some strains of HPV cause the formation of papillomas, i.e. warts, but the strains most often associated with causing cancer are also likely to have asymptomatic infection. The potential to remain asymptomatic until an advanced stage in cancer development makes regular screening tests even more important in detecting anal cancer early.

Some important symptoms of anal cancer include anal bleeding, itching and abnormal discharge. A lump or feeling of fullness in the anal area or swelling of the lymph nodes in the groin can also indicate anal cancer. Changes in bowel movements including narrowing of the stool can be another important symptom.

Assessing your risk

While knowing and reducing your risk factors is an important step in cancer prevention, only a clinical examination and other diagnostic tests for anal cancer can confirm the presence or absence of cancerous cells.

While intended to be informational, this article does not take the place of professional medical advice. If you have questions about your risk for anal cancer or other GI concerns, please contact Dr. Simon Cofrancesco and Dr. Sergio Quijano at GI North or another healthcare professional near you for more information.

GI North is the gastroenterology clinic led by Dr. Simon Cofrancesco and Dr. Sergio Quijano located in Cumming, GA. GI North is also proud to serve the surrounding areas of Alpharetta, Roswell, Canton, and Suwanee. For appointments in Spanish, please ask for Dr. Sergio Quijano.

© 2017 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

image with icons showing causes of fatty liver disease | GI NorthA diagnosis of liver damage can come as something of a surprise, particular to those without a history of excess alcohol intake. While alcohol may be a well-known cause of liver disease, it is not the only one. Learning more about the sources of and treatments for fatty liver disease and steatohepatitis can help make facing and treating these conditions easier.

The many functions of the liver

The body’s largest internal organ, the liver sits in the upper right portion of the abdomen where it is mostly covered by the lower ribs. The functions of the liver are manifold and include vital processes related to the breakdown of toxins in the body. The liver also produces proteins needed for functions such as clotting and transport of nutrients in the blood. The production of bile to help digest fats and eliminate waste products is another important function of the liver.

Recognizing liver damage

Liver damage can include many signs and symptoms such as pain or tenderness in the right upper portion of the abdomen. Accumulation of waste products normally removed by the liver can lead to jaundice, a painless yellowing of the skin. Widespread itching can be one of the more distressing symptoms of liver damage, as it tends to be persistent and resistant to normal anti-itch therapies.

Not everyone with liver disease has apparent symptoms nor are these the earliest indicators of deteriorating liver function. Rather, blood tests to measure the level of liver-specific enzymes serve as an early and reliable measure of liver disease. Biopsy and ultrasound can also be important in determining the cause of liver function derangement.

NASH diagnosis and treatment

Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a type of Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a condition in which fat accumulates in the liver. In NASH, the fat in the liver has led to inflammation and liver cell damage. Left untreated, NASH can cause scar tissue formation, a condition referred to as fibrosis and that can lead to cirrhosis.

It has been estimated that about 5 percent of Americas have NASH. Prior NAFLD, a condition affecting between 10 and 45 percent of Americans, is an important risk for developing NASH. Other risk factors for NASH include central obesity, type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia, and metabolic syndrome.

Left untreated, NASH can result in severe and even irreversible liver damage. One of the most effective treatments for NASH is weight loss. Avoidance of liver-toxic substances such as alcohol and certain medications is also important during recovery from NASH. All the while, working closely with a healthcare professional to monitor liver function and disease regression is an indispensable part of disease management in NASH.

The road to recovery from NASH

Although intended to be informational, this article does not take the place of professional medical advice. Please call an M.D. in your area with any questions, or contact our staff at GI North to make an appointment with Dr. Cofrancesco or Dr. Quijano, who speaks fluent Spanish. Located in Cumming, GA; the GI North team serves the entire Atlanta metro area including Alpharetta, Roswell, Canton, and Suwanee. Set your mind at ease and find out today how GI North can get you and your liver on the road to better health.

© 2017 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

photo of young woman lying on couch holding her stomach in pain | GI NorthAt present, about 1 – 1.3 million people suffer from Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), affirms the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although the cause is unknown, there is an understanding how IBD affects some subpopulations more than others. For instance, Crohn’s disease is more common in woman than men and Ulcerative Colitis is a little more common in men that women. Studies also show that IBD occurs more in Caucasian and Ashkenazic Jewish origin than other ethnicities. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that there is no precise understanding of how many people suffer from ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. This is because there is a lack of standard criteria for diagnosing IBD. Quite often, IBD is identified as another condition.

Environmental conditions also play a factor in IBD statistics. For example, IBD is more prevalent in developed countries. As well, IBD is more prevalent in urban communities compared with rural areas. Many experts claim that is may be due to a “westernization” lifestyle. As well, Crohn’s disease is found more often in smokers and ulcerative colitis is more common with ex-smokers and nonsmokers.

There have also been studies on the relationship between socioeconomic factors and IBD. Some research showed that Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC) is more common in white collar occupations. Other studies revealed that ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease was less prevalent in groups with higher income and education. As well, other research found a slight connection between IBD and specific occupations.

Other factors that may be contributing to the increase of inflammatory bowl disease are perinatal and childhood infections, diet, atypical mycobacterial infections and oral contraceptives. However, these factors have not been proven to play a part in developing IBD.

Symptoms and Treatment

Inflammatory bowl disease symptoms depend on the area of the intestinal tract being affected. However, the symptoms are not always specific and can fluctuate from mild to severe. According to WebMD the symptoms of the IBD can include:

  • Fever
  • Sweats
  • Weight loss
  • Possible fatigue
  • Diminished appetite
  • Diarrhea with possible blood
  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Severe need to have a bowel movement
  • Iron deficiency (anemia) from blood loss
  • Arthralgias (non-inflammatory joint pain)
  • Bloody stools – common in UC, less common in CD
  • Perianal disease (abscesses, fistulas) – Fifty percent of CD patients

If you suspect that you have either Crohn’s disease (CD) or ulcerative colitis (UC), it is best that you seek the advice of a professional. At GI North, gastroenterologists Dr. Cofrancesco and Dr. Quijano are renowned for their expertise and outstanding patient care.

Combined, the two physicians bring numerous years of experience, specializing in the diagnoses and treatment of digestive issues such as IBD. As well, Dr. Quijano speaks fluent Spanish. Also, the highly trained, friendly professional staff is committed to providing the highest quality in service and personal care.

The staff’s expertise and passion for every patient’s well-being easily creates a trusting and warm environment for everyone. Moreover, the staff is more than happy to answers any questions or concerns you may have.

For easy accessibility, GI North serves Cumming, GA as well as the surrounding areas of Alpharetta, Canton, Dawsonville, Duluth, Milton, Johns Creek, Suwanee and Roswell.

Note: This article is not meant to replace professional medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns about Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), make an appointment at GI North with Dr. Cofrancesco, Dr. Quijano, or a physician in your area.

© 2016 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

Fill out my online form.