It’s the most common blood condition in the U.S. Nearly 3.5 million Americans are affected and women are at the greatest risk. It’s caused by a range wide of conditions and can cause a heart attack if left untreated.
Anemia is the lack of enough health red blood cells or hemoglobin in your blood stream. Without enough red blood cells or hemoglobin, your cells don’t get enough oxygen, which means your organs, muscles and tissues don’t get enough oxygen either.
Symptoms of anemia include:
• Fatigue and quick loss of energy
• Rapid heart beat, shortness of breath or headache, especially when exercising
• Difficulty concentrating
• Pale, pasty skin and cold hands and feet
• Leg cramps
These symptoms begin mildly and, if anemia is left untreated, worsen over time. Because it’s mild to begin with, anemia can initially go undetected.
Because anemia can be caused by a variety of conditions, it’s important to discuss these symptoms with your physician and identify the cause. For many women, it could be heavy menstrual periods or a Vitamin B12 deficiency. In teens, it is often the result of a poor diet, low in iron-rich foods. Anemia can also be the result of infection or lead poisoning.
Anemia can also be a symptom of intestinal disorders such as celiac disease, gastritis, hemorrhoids, stomach ulcer, Crohn’s disease or colorectal cancer.
Celiac disease is an auto-immune disorder affecting the small intestine. Gastritis is the irritation, inflammation or erosion of your stomach lining. A hemorrhoid is a varicose vein outside of or near the opening of your anus. A stomach ulcer is a sore inside your stomach or the beginning of your small intestine that is slow to heal, or will not heal. Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammation that can affect the digestive tract anywhere from mouth to anus. Colorectal cancer occurs in the colon or rectum and may also be known as colon cancer or rectal cancer. The two are closely related.
If you have symptoms of anemia, a simple blood test and physical exam will confirm the diagnosis. Finding the cause of your anemia may require further tests, including a colonoscopy or endoscopy.
If anemia is left undiagnosed and untreated, you may experience arrhythmia, an irregular heart beat that puts you at greater risk of Sudden Cardiac Death. Anemia can cause your heart to pump harder and faster to make up for the lack of oxygen in your blood cells. Overworking your heart leads to an enlarged heart or heart failure.
Do you have questions about the cause of your anemia? Dr. Gaston is here to help! Call 773-238-1126 or click here to make an appointment to discuss your condition, necessary testing and treatment.
Would you know the warning signs of hepatitis if you saw them?
Hepatitis is an infection that causes liver inflammation. There are five different kinds of hepatitis: A, B, C, D and E. There are many ways that you can become infected with hepatitis, from contaminated food to sexual contact (this depends on the type of hepatitis you contract). From the office of our Chicago gastroenterologist, Dr. Darrien Gaston, discover the symptoms of hepatitis and when you should seek medical attention.
The Symptoms of Hepatitis
Within the first few weeks of being infected, you won’t even know that you have hepatitis. At this point it’s too early to see symptoms. Over time, you may start to notice symptoms such as jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes), loss of appetite, nausea, fatigue, stomach pains, muscle or joint pain, and a mild fever. These are symptoms that should not be take lightly, as liver damage can occur if hepatitis is left untreated.
When to See a Gastroenterologist
If you are noticing any of the symptoms above, it’s important that you see our Chicago GI doctor right away for treatment. If you don’t get treatment for your condition then you could develop cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver.
How Hepatitis Spreads
There are different ways that you can get hepatitis, depending on what form you have contracted:
- Hepatitis A: You can get it from infected food or water. Most commonly affected foods include vegetables, fruits or undercooked meats and seafood.
- Hepatitis B: You can get it if you have contact with bodily fluids from an infected person. It can also be contracted through unprotected sex, as well as sharing a toothbrush or someone’s shaving equipment.
- Hepatitis C: Just like hepatitis B, this type is also contracted through the blood of someone infected with hepatitis.
- Hepatitis D: Only those who have hepatitis B are prone to developing hepatitis D. Just like B, this form can also be contracted through exposure to infected bodily fluids.
- Hepatitis E: Just like hepatitis A, this form can also be spread through contaminated food or water.
If you are concerned that you may have hepatitis, give Metropolitan Gastroenterology Consultants in Chicago, IL, a call today to schedule an appointment. Some forms of hepatitis can be cured, while others can easily be managed with medication. Know how to care for your condition.
It happens to everybody.
Gas is just a fact of everyone’s life. Bloating, burping and passing gas happens as your stomach and intestines digest the food you’ve eaten. During a meal, burping can happen as you swallow air along with your food. Flatulence, or passing gas, can be a little more embarrassing.
First - you are not alone. Although you may think you have an excessive amount of gas, most people pass gas between 6 and 20 times a day - and that’s perfectly normal.
Gas is caused by a variety of issues:
- swallowed air that did not get “burped up”, but made its way all the way through your digestive system.
- some medicines, vitamins and herbal supplements.
- changes in hormone levels, especially right before a women’s menstrual cycle.
- lactose, a natural sugar found in milk and dairy that is difficult to digest in some people.
- food and beverage choices.
Remember that most “harsh” incidents of gas will go away by themselves. Over a period of time, you will see a decrease in flatus events as your body eliminates it.
If it’s uncomfortable, or just embarrassing in a public location, there are some non-prescription methods to alleviate the symptoms:
- drink water, avoiding alcohol and any carbonated beverages like soft drinks or seltzers
- for unpleasant odor, try over-the-counter charcoal tablets
- take an antacid or a food enzyme (Beano, for example) with your food
To avoid excessive gas, start a diary, tracking what you eat and when you experience the most uncomfortable or unpleasant episodes. Different foods trigger gas in different people, but broccoli, cabbage, beans and bran are common causes. Keep track especially of the relationship between milk and dairy and your episodes that may indicate lactose intolerance.
To avoid swallowing air, eat slowly and chew thoroughly. Don’t use straws and avoid talking while chewing. Refrain from chewing gum and hard candies.
Achieve a healthy weight and exercise regularly to keep your digestive system in top form.
If you’ve tried all this and still feel that your bloating, burping and flatus is uncomfortable and excessive, make an appointment with Dr. Gaston. You may need a non-invasive screening to exam your digestive system and determine if there are any physical issues contributing to your challenges.
Any questions about your digestive system? Just click the yellow "Book An Appointment" button at the top right or call 773-238-1126. We are always happy to help!
Eating lots of waffles, pancakes, white bread, cold cereals, crackers and Cream of Wheat not only contributes to weight gain, it also contributes to the development of diverticulosis, which can cause painful and often dangerous diverticulitis.
Consuming this low-fiber diet means your colon must work harder to move food, causing pouches to develop along its walls. These pouches are very small, 5 to 10 mm, about the size of an aspirin to a pea, but can be larger. These pouches are called diverticula.
About 80% of the people who develop diverticula never experience diverticulitis - and doctors aren’t sure why. In these cases, diverticula is often only discovered through a colonoscopy screening or barium enema X-ray, and these people will never have adverse symptoms.
For the other 20%, it’s a completely different story. Bacteria begin to grow in the pouches and the pouches become inflamed or infected. You may feel bloated, swollen or gassy, with either diarrhea or constipation, sometimes nausea or vomiting. You may experience tenderness, cramps or pain in your abdomen that may become worse when you move. There may be fever, chills and loss of appetite.
While a cramped gassy feeling can be normal after eating certain foods, if these symptoms persist after a bowel movement, call your doctor. If your situation appears straightforward, your physician will prescribe antibiotics and a liquid diet to heal the infection and take pressure from your colon. Complications and escalating pain levels may require a hospital stay and IV antibiotics and nutrition, with nothing by mouth to allow the bowel to completely rest.
Nearly half of patients who experience diverticulitis will never have a second attack.
When you experience repeated diverticulitis attacks, or if you’ve developed a fistula, an opening between your colon and your bladder, uterus or vagina, you will need surgery to remove the diseased portion of your colon.
If you have a sudden, unbearable, intense pain while experiencing symptoms, get to an emergency room or call an ambulance immediately. You may have suffered a rupture of an inflamed diverticula and require immediate surgery to avoid life-threatening peritonitis.
Risk factors include:
- eating a low-fiber diet
- a family history of diverticulosis or diverticulitis
- taking aspirin and other anti-inflammatory drugs such as naproxen (Aleve) and ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil)
Eating nuts, popcorn or seeds has not been shown to have any impact on the development of diverticulitis.
To prevent diverticula from forming:
- eat a high-fiber diet, including vegetables especially beans and peas, fruits like pears, berries and apples and whole grains like brown rice, bran and quinoa.
- restrict fat and red meat
- drink about a half gallon of water each day to keep stool soft
- exercise consistently
Everyone should know when to get a colonoscopy and how often they should be getting one.
Getting a colonoscopy is probably not something you think about often until changes in your gastrointestinal tract seem to warrant it. Of course, getting a colonoscopy is something that everyone will need to do at some point during their lifetime to screen for colon cancer. This is one of the most effective ways to detect colon cancer and it could just save your life. Here is when you should be visiting our Chicago, IL, gastroenterologist, Dr. Darrien Gaston, for a colonoscopy.
At the age of 50, both men and women should start getting regular colon cancer screenings. If your colonoscopy comes back normal and our Chicago GI doctor doesn’t find a precancerous polyp (also known as an adenoma) and you don’t have any risk factors for colon cancer than you probably won’t need to come back for a routine colonoscopy for another 10 years (typically, colonoscopies are recommended up until the age of 75).
When you come in for your colonoscopy we will sit down and discuss your medical history with you to determine whether you have any risk factors that could predispose you to colon cancer. Common risk factors include:
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- A family history of adenomas or colon cancer
- A personal history of adenomas or colon cancer
- Having a diet that is low in fiber but high in fat
- Being African American
- Being an older adult
- Leading a sedentary lifestyle
When you come into our office talk to us about any risk factors you may have so we can determine how often you should be coming in for a routine colonoscopy. Also, if you notice blood in your stool or any changes to your bowel movements then it’s time to schedule an appointment with us. We may recommend getting a colonoscopy to help us diagnose the symptoms you are experiencing if we are unable to determine the cause of your issues.
A colonoscopy might seem a bit intimidating but it is honestly the best way to screen for colon cancer because it gives our Chicago gastroenterology specialists a chance to visibly look at the rectum and the lower intestinal tract to detect cancerous and precancerous growths and remove them in one simple procedure.
If it’s time to schedule your routine colonoscopy, or if you are noticing any GI symptoms that have you concerned, do not hesitate to turn to Metropolitan Gastroenterology Consultants in Chicago, IL, for the care you deserve.
Chicagoland Brother and Sister Team Win $10,000 for Achieving Weight Loss Goals
Dr. Darrien Gaston’s SlimSmart Balloon helps shed 140 pounds.
Chicago - A brother and sister from Chicagoland, Jamie Bedolla and Christina Bedolla, have won the opportunity to be national Success Stories for the Orbera Weight Loss Procedure. The announcement came after an online contest held during February.
Dr. Darrien Gaston of Metropolitan Gastroenterology Consultants in the Beverly neighborhood of Chicago recommended the brother-sister team after being notified of the contest by Apollo Endosurgery, the makers of Gaston’s SlimSmart Balloon. “Jamie and Christina have an incredible story and their weight loss has been remarkable with the SlimSmart Balloon,” said Gaston.
Both Jamie and Christina had struggled with weight issues their whole lives. Christina said, “I tried every diet out there. And every single time I stopped eating the diet, I gained the weight back. I’ve been on a roller coaster since I was a teen.”
In June of 2016, Gaston performed the SlimSmart procedure on Jamie. “It’s non-invasive and non-surgical, with no cutting, no stitches and no staples. The SlimSmart balloon is placed using an endoscope into the stomach and then filled with a sterile saline solution, to about the size of a grapefruit.” Because SlimSmart took up space in Jamie’s stomach, it was easy for him to control his portion sizes, the recognized key to losing weight and keeping it off.
“When Christina saw the success Jamie had in just two months, she came in for the procedure,” said Gaston. The SlimSmart Balloon stays in place for six months and is then removed via the same non-surgical procedure.
Assisted by regular visits to Dr. Gaston, information from a nutritionist and support from each other, the brother and sister team lost over 140 pounds in just six months, Jamie losing 73 lbs. and Christina losing 68 lbs. Both siblings have now had the Balloon removed and are successful in keeping the weight off.
Christina said, “I love the smaller me. I love shopping in the regular clothing departments now. No more plus sizes! I’m more active, which makes me feel even better. I love my confidence, I love myself and am more willing to put myself out there.”
When Gaston informed them about the contest, they both agreed it would be a fun thing to try. “We are very proud of our weight loss,” said Jamie. “We worked together and achieved very substantial results. Our story, that we’re siblings and we both used this procedure, is unique.”
Their names, weight loss achievement and story were posted on the Orbera website and the voting began.
“I shared it everywhere, everyday,” laughed Christina. “My Facebook friends are so glad the contest is over. It also helped that Dr. Gaston shared it on his social media pages.” Links to vote were posted on both the SlimSmart Balloon page and the Metropolitan Gastroenterology page.
Voting ended February 12th and the siblings were informed of their win on February 24th. Gaston was thrilled. “I am so happy for the both of them. They achieved substantial weight loss goals without surgery, and they won $10,000. How great is that!”
Along with the $10,000 prize, Apollo Endosurgery is flying Jamie and Christina to Austin, Texas in April. There, they will enjoy a free shopping trip, photography and infomercial shoot with Apollo Modeling Agency and other media opportunities.
Jamie is looking forward to the trip. “We have cousins out there who have been telling me to visit. I’ve never been to Austin before, so it will be nice to be in the warm weather, spending time with the family after all the events.” At the idea that he may become a national celebrity, he just chuckles, “Oh, I don’t know about that.”
“I just did this for me,” said Jamie. “I did not expect we’d win. I’m just happy to have lost so much weight and to feel so much better about my health and my life. Winning thousands of dollars is just icing on the cake.”
Losing weight depends greatly on the amount of commitment you have to your diet and exercise routine. However, if you have spent vast amounts of time eating well and exercising regularly and still have not reached the results you desire, you may need help from your gastroenterologist. Learn about weight loss treatment and what it can do for you with Dr. Darrien Gaston at Metropolitan Gastroenterology Consultants in Chicago, IL.
Do I qualify for weight loss treatment?
Weight loss treatment is not for everyone who simply wants to lose a few pounds. Good candidates for weight loss treatment have lost weight through and understand the importance of healthy diet and exercise and have hit a plateau which keeps their body mass index, or BMI, around 30-40. Most patients who undergo weight loss treatment must first lose a certain amount of weight before their doctor will perform their treatment. Dr. Gaston can help you determine if you qualify for weight loss treatment.
Stomach Balloon Weight Loss Treatment
Available at Metropolitan Gastroenterology Consultants, stomach balloon weight loss treatment is a minimally-invasive way to help you lose excess weight by minimizing the size of your stomach. Your doctor inserts the deflated balloon during a fast and easy outpatient procedure which takes about 30 minutes. Once inserted into the stomach, your doctor inflates the balloon and it remains in your stomach over the course of treatment. You will feel fuller faster, resulting in smaller portion sizes and, eventually, weight loss. After treatment, your doctor will remove the balloon.
Weight Loss Treatment in Chicago, IL
The stomach balloon weight loss treatment will help you lose excess weight, but it is up to you to keep it off after treatment ends. Without a healthy diet and an active lifestyle, the weight will come back. Weight loss treatment should be seen as a jump-start to a healthy lifestyle, not a miracle cure for obesity. Stomach balloon weight loss treatment has proven to be a safe, low-risk procedure.
For more information on weight loss treatments in the Chicago, IL area, please contact Dr. Gaston at Metropolitan Gastroenterology Consultants. Call (773) 238-1126 to schedule your consultation with Dr. Gaston today!
With New Year resolutions and exciting life events all around us, January is the perfect time to implement changes. Perhaps you’re in a wedding (or having one yourself), going to a reunion or just have had enough of breaking your own promises about your health. Whatever the reason, getting off to a positive start, with inspiration and support, can help make your weight loss goals a reality.
January is the perfect time for the SlimSmart Balloon. With the help of this temporary, non-surgical weight loss procedure, Dr. Gaston’s patients have lost hundreds of pounds, with individuals losing between 50 and 75 lbs in just six months. Patients have been able to discontinue medications to treat obesity-related illnesses such as diabetes because of their dramatic weight loss.
The SlimSmart Balloon is a device placed in your stomach and filled with saline solution, salt water, via a gastroenterological procedure. There are no incisions, no stitches, no staples and no scars. The procedure takes just minutes and is performed under mild sedation here in our clean, comfortable offices, recently awarded the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval. You’ll be home within hours, ready for real change in your life.
The SlimSmart Balloon takes up space in your stomach, making you feel fuller faster. While you learn to visually identify correct portion sizes, your body adapts to those portions, helping to eliminate your desire to overeat, even after the SlimSmart Balloon is removed.
Studies prove that people lose 3 times the weight with the SlimSmart Balloon than with just dieting and exercise alone. With an additional six months of nutrition, exercise and follow-up support, you’ll find that this full year of weight loss assistance will result in long-term weight management, keeping you healthy and happy for decades to come.
Throughout January, Dr. Gaston is offering a $500 discount on the SlimSmart Balloon. If you’ve been frustrated by years of unsuccessful dieting - and especially if you want to feel and look healthy and fit on The Big Day - call our office at 773-238-1126 or schedule an appointment online by clicking here.
January is about changing your life for the better - improving your everyday health or feeling fantastic and confident for once-in-a-lifetime celebrations. With the SlimSmart Balloon, you’ll accomplish all your resolutions.
When the United States FDA approved the Orbera Managed Weight Loss System in Spring 2015, the non-surgical procedure had already helped thousands of people in Europe lose weight, and keep it off.
However, for Americans who suffer from the crush of obesity and related health issues like diabetes, joint problems and heart disease, Orbera was an unknown. Many news outlets and physicians, including Dr. Darrien Gaston, have worked diligently to educate patients about this minimally-invasive, reversible procedure that helps you learn proper portion control. Still, people considering Orbera have many questions.
Next week, those questions will be answered!
On Wednesday, December 7 at 6:00 pm Chicago time, Orbera Systems will be presenting a webinar to explain how the Orbera Managed Weight Loss System works (and it does!), and why it is three times as successful than diet and exercise alone.
Dr. Gaston is inviting you to attend. This webinar is completely confidential. You can access it from the privacy of your own home, on your computer, laptop, tablet or phone.
The webinar will explain how, with Orbera, there are no incisions, no stitches and no extensive recovery from major surgery. You’ll see details of how the balloon is placed endoscopically - best done by a qualified and precise gastroenterologist like Dr. Gaston - in minutes and how you’ll go home the same day. Orbera will explain how this saline-filled balloon is temporary, removed after about 6 months of weight loss. If you are between 50-100 pounds overweight, you’ll discover how Orbera can change your life.
After you’ve watched the webinar, call Metropolitan Gastroenterology Consultants at 773-238-1126 to schedule your free consultation. Dr. Gaston can answer your unique and personal questions, helping you decide if Orbera is the correct choice to meet your weight loss goal.
Dr. Gaston has already helped dozens of people lose hundreds of pounds. His patient who had his Orbera device removed a week ago lost 73 pounds. In just 5 months, another patient lost 54 pounds. With the Orbera device, supported by exercise, you will lose the weight that’s been holding you back from the life you want to lead!
Please register for December 7, 6:00 pm webinar by clicking here.
Weight loss is not only essential for your health, but also helps you feel good about your appearance. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, it's difficult to see a difference in the scales. Luckily, there's a minimally invasive way to lose weight and look great. Dr. Darrien Gaston, your Chicago, IL gastroenterologist, shares some information about the innovative stomach balloon weight loss procedure.
How does the balloon help me lose weight?
Placing a balloon in your stomach makes you feel fuller sooner and prevents overeating. The balloon is an important tool that will help you learn to adjust the size of the portions you eat. People who've taken advantage of this weight loss procedure have lost up to three times more weight than patients who used diet and exercise alone.
Is surgery required?
Recovering from surgery can be one of the most challenging aspects of bariatric surgery, but no surgery is needed when you receive your stomach balloon. Dr. Gaston will insert the deflated balloon into your mouth, then pass it through your esophagus into your stomach. Once the gastric balloon is in place, he'll use a syringe to fill it with saline until it's about as big as a grapefruit. The entire procedure only takes about 30 minutes.
Is the procedure permanent?
The stomach balloon is temporary and completely reversible. The balloon only remains in your stomach for six months before it's removed during another minor procedure.
How can I ensure I maintain my results once the stomach balloon is removed?
During your treatment, you'll receive information, support and coaching that will help you choose healthy foods, exercise good portion control and improve your physical fitness. The team in Chicago will continue to work with you after the balloon is removed to ensure that you continue to make good choices about food.
Are you ready to lose weight and improve your health? Find out how this weight loss procedure can help you by calling Dr. Gaston, your Chicago, IL gastroenterologist, at (773) 238-1126.
Portion Control Tool, Ongoing Support Is Critical To Successful Weight Loss
Beverly-area gastroenterologist offers non-surgical gastric balloon.
- Despite ever-growing awareness and messages about healthy eating and exercise hammering us every day, the obesity rate in the United States continues to rise. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that almost 35% of U.S. adults are obese; 78.6 million people. Healthcare professionals are constantly attempting to pinpoint causes, citing factors such as the proliferation of processed foods, stress and sleep deprivation. They are also seeking ways to reverse this condition in individuals and as a society.
Dr. Darrien Gaston, a board certified gastroenterologist here in Chicago, has seen this unfortunate trend in his own patients. “I’ve been in practice for over twenty-five years now and have definitely noticed that my patients struggle more and more with maintaining a healthy weight. Some have never been able to lose weight gained in college or while having a baby, some suffered from childhood obesity that is still a factor in adulthood and some have just put on 5 or so pounds each year, and suddenly woke up to realize that their weight is now a real health concern.”
Obesity is a real health concern, especially among African Americans, where almost half the population is obese, and Latinos, where over 42% are considered obese. About one-third of non-Hispanic whites are classified as obese as well. Obesity increases the risk of heart disease, certain cancers, stroke and type 2 diabetes. These challenges, and the decreased mobility that comes with being obese, can radically compromise quality of life and life span.
One of the most significant obstacles to weight loss is portion control. “We Americans are trained not to waste food from Day One,” said Dr. Gaston. “Being a member of the “Clean Plate Club” was important growing up and no matter how hard we try, that training is ingrained in our brains. We eat everything on our plates. However, over the years, those plates and the portions on them have grown significantly.”
Since 1960, the average dinner plate has grown from about 7 inches across to nearly 12 inches across, causing diners to add more and more to the plate itself - and getting used to those larger and larger portions through the years. In 1977, a “small” soft drink at a restaurant was about 10.9 ounces. Today, it’s 17.7. French fries used to be served in about a 2-ounce serving and are now over 3 ounces. A hamburger was just about 6 ounces and is now over 7. That’s an additional 254 calories in just that meal - and Americans are trained to eat it all.
Portion control is at the heart of bariatric surgery. This drastic approach may involve stapling, banding or partial removal of the patient’s stomach. Unfortunately, that option is only available for the morbidly obese, those with critically serious health problems. For the rest of the population, those who are 50 to 100 pounds overweight, there was no such intervention. Patients had to use only diet and exercise to achieve results, which is maddeningly difficult at best.
“Now, there is the Orbera procedure,” said Dr. Gaston. “This is really weight loss “for the rest of us.” It’s a portion control tool that is temporary and definitely not radical.”
Dr. Gaston is referring to the Orbera Managed Weight Loss System, which he performs in his offices. He is the only gastroenterologist in Chicagoland performing this procedure. Because the non-surgical Orbera balloon is placed through the mouth, as an experienced endoscopist Dr. Gaston is most highly qualified to perform the procedure. Orbera is FDA-approved and has been in use for over 20 years, with over 220,000 people finding successful long-term weight loss with the device.
Using an endoscope, Dr. Gaston inserts the Orbera balloon through the mouth and into the stomach of the mildly sedated patient. Flexible and durable, the balloon is then filled with a safe, salt-based solution until it’s about the size of a grapefruit. “It’s like having an upper GI exam - quick and non-surgical. There are no incisions, no stitches and no staples - no hospital stay. The whole thing takes about 20 minutes.”
The Orbera balloon is kept in place for six months and helps control portion size by taking up room in the stomach. “The device is there to help you feel full, even as portion sizes change substantially and you learn what the proper size should be. There can be significant weight loss in those six months.”
Dr. Gaston doesn’t just insert the device and expect the patient to figure this out themselves. “There is usually some nausea in the first few days as the body adjusts to the balloon, and my patients can access me 24/7 to ask questions or address concerns. We partner patients with a wellness coach, so they learn from professionals what is needed to establish a healthy lifestyle and eating habits. Regular exercise amounting to at least 200 minutes per week is essential for successful weight loss with the balloon in place. We meet monthly so we can track results and ensure patients are making those changes.”
After six months, the balloon is removed just as easily, but the support continues. “For a full year after the procedure, we will meet each month to help. With this support, patients continue losing weight and they continue to practice the skills they’ve acquired to keep it off,” said Dr. Gaston.
Clinical studies back this up. Patients usually lose over three times the weight with a gastric balloon than with diet and exercise alone.
The obesity crisis is also costing the U.S. a mind-boggling amount of money. The CDC estimates that in 2008 alone, the annual medical cost of obesity was $147 billion. As obesity rates rise, that cost will continue to rise as well.
Dr. Gaston sees a way to halt this trend and change its course. He offers free initial consultations for those who are interested in finding out if their weight, BMI (body mass index) and medical fitness make them good candidates for the Orbera balloon procedure. “The Orbera system can be used with adults over 18 years of age. If we can reverse obesity in our young adults, they won’t develop all the problems and diseases that come with it - and ultimately have a shorter life span. In older people, we can see the significant health improvements that come with weight loss at any age. They will live to see - and actually enjoy - their grandchildren.”
“Portion control is a critical key to healthy, sustainable weight loss. Supported by informed food choices and balanced exercise, losing weight and maintaining a proper weight become attainable. This balloon and the guidance offered for a full year makes that happen.”
For more information, visit www.metrogichicago.com or call 773-238-1126.
If you’re over age 50 or have ever been pregnant, chances are very good you suffer from some hemorrhoid pain. About 75% of men and women will experience hemorrhoids and the pain, burning, itching and bleeding that accompanies them.
When you have chronic hemorrhoids, you know how life-altering they can be.
What are hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the rectum and anus. Internal hemorrhoids usually don’t cause pain, but they do bleed. They can get bigger and protrude from your body, at which time they can be painful. External hemorrhoids are painful and can be potentially dangerous when blood clots form inside them, causing thrombosis.
What causes hemorrhoids?
Pinpointing the cause of your hemorrhoids can be difficult. There are many factors involved including:
• genetically weak veins
- straining during bowel movements or when engaged in physical activity
- coughing, sneezing or vomiting
- standing or sitting for extended periods
Is there a pain-free way to get rid of them?
Yes! Dr. Gaston offers painless, non-surgical hemorrhoid treatment! The minimally invasive procedure is overwhelmingly effective for the long term. A small rubber band interrupts the blood supply to the hemorrhoid, shrinking and then eliminating it.
How long does it take?
Dr. Gaston will perform the procedure in minutes, right in the office. Your hemorrhoid will disappear in a matter of days.
Can any hemorrhoid be removed this way?
Most hemorrhoids can be treated with banding, but Dr. Gaston will do a thorough examination and history with you to make sure banding is appropriate for you. If not, other treatments can be discussed.
If you’ve rejected surgery but are frustrated with creams and gels that don’t seem to really work, it’s time to consider another way to get rid of your hemorrhoids. Call Metropolitan Gastroenterology Consultants and Dr. Darrien Gaston at 773-238-1126. You can also click here to book online, 24/7.
It’s a classic “the chicken or the egg” question; do we exercise less because we’re overweight or are we overweight because we exercise less? This May, in honor of National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, Dr. Gaston is here to help answer that question.
Besides weight loss, there are many other benefits of physical activity.
- You’ll lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke and other chronic illnesses.
- Moving your body releases chemicals that make your brain feel better too, helping to alleviate depression and anxiety.
- Exercise gives you more energy because those deep breaths mean you’re oxygenating your whole body.
- Because you’re improving blood flow, you’re also improving your sex life, as exercise helps alleviate erectile dysfunction in men and increase arousal in women.
- Move in the morning or early afternoon and you’ll fall asleep faster, sleep deeper and awake more refreshed.
Exercise alone cannot accomplish the weight loss many of us desire. Studies show exercise without dieting is a losing battle, but that dieting without increasing exercise won’t keep the weight off long term.
Dr. Gaston is the only gastroenterologist in Chicagoland that offers the Orbera procedure, to help you jumpstart your weight loss so physical activity becomes more possible! This non-surgical procedure places a durable balloon in your stomach, making it easy to control your portion sizes and relearn how much to eat. You will discover the joys of physical fitness and become able to climb stairs without fatigue, walk longer distances, engage in more play with children, and accomplish athletic goals you previously thought impossible. With the temporary Orbera procedure, nutritional information and increased physical activity, Dr. Gaston’s patients have lost up to 14 lbs in just one week.
Through May, in honor of National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, Dr. Gaston is offering a substantial $500 discount on the Orbera procedure. FREE consultations are available. Dr. Gaston will assess your BMI (body mass index) and your overall general health to determine if you are a candidate for the Orbera procedure.
With Orbera, your “chicken and egg” question turns around completely - is the weight loss making you more willing to exercise or is the exercising encouraging you lose the weight?
Call Metropolitan Gastroenterology Consultants and Dr. Darrien Gaston at 773-238-1126. You can also click here to book your FREE consultation online, 24/7.
To be at your best every day, you need between seven and a half and nine hours of sleep each night. Sleep apnea, strongly linked to obesity, is one of the biggest obstacles to getting the proper amount of restorative, non-REM stage II and stage III sleep.
When you carry extra weight, especially in your torso and around your neck, your respiratory function is compromised. Fatty deposits around your airway can obstruct your breathing. You experience sleep disordered breathing, which can include:
• loud snoring
• pauses in your breathing during sleep
• abrupt awakenings with shortness of breath or gasping
• choking that wakes you up
During the day, you may find
• headache each morning
• dry mouth or sore throat
• excessive sleepiness during the day
• problems focusing
• problems with decision-making and other executive functions
• mood swings and irritability
Long term complications of sleep apnea include diabetes, as sleeping properly for less than 4 hours a night causes dangerous drops in your ability to process glucose (sugar) and requires your body to produce 30% more insulin than a normal sleeper. Sleep apnea is also linked to atrial fibrillation, high blood pressure, heart attacks and sudden death.
When you are overweight or obese, your risk of sleep apnea is four times higher than if you were of normal weight.
At Metropolitan Gastroenterology Consultants, we can dramatically lower your risk of sleep apnea and all its complications by dramatically reducing your weight. When your BMI is between 30 and 40, about 50 to 100 pounds over your healthy weight range, non-surgical and temporary Orbera can be the right choice for your weight loss struggle. Within six months, your weight - and your risk of sleep apnea - can be substantially reduced.
During August, Dr. Gaston, the only gastroenterologist in Chicagoland performing this procedure, is offering no-cost personal consultations. Financing is also available. Click here to make an appointment, or call 773-238-1126.
Improving your sleep patterns will not only improve your health by reducing your risk of diabetes, heart attack and atrial fibrillation, but will improve your life, through better focus, less drowsiness, a more positive attitude and more energy.
Dr. Darrien Gaston and Metropolitan Gastroenterology Consultants has long demonstrated a commitment to excellence and it’s just been confirmed - again - by none other than The Joint Commission.
In August, Dr. Gaston received notice that Metro GI’s accreditation has been renewed for another three years. Dr. Gaston and his staff’s meticulous standards for procedures, performances, processes and policies enabled Metro GI to earn the Gold Seal of Approval® for Office-based Surgery from The Joint Commission, a not-for-profit organization that keeps patient safety and quality of care at the forefront of their standards.
What exactly is The Joint Commission?
The Joint Commission is the largest and most prestigious accreditation agency in healthcare. The Commission’s standards are determined by health care professionals and providers, experts in particular health care fields, consumers and patients, government agencies and business owners. The standards are based on the latest scientific studies and literature.
“Since its founding in 1951, The Joint Commission has been acknowledged as the leader in developing the highest standards for quality and safety in the delivery of health care, and evaluating organization performance based on these standards. Today, more than 19,000 health care organizations use Joint Commission standards to guide how they administer care and continuously improve performance. The Joint Commission is also the only accrediting organization with the capability and experience to evaluate health care organizations across the continuum of care.”
What does The Gold Seal of Approval® mean?
Being accredited by The Joint Commission means that Metro GI has gone through an intensive outside review and passed the survey, which includes standards for coordination of care, patient education and training, proper monitoring of patients during procedures that require deep sedation or anesthesia, and postoperative care.
The Gold Seal of Approval® is earned by demonstrating continuous compliance with The Joint Commission’s performance standards. It reflects Metro GI’s commitment to providing the highest possible quality of health care services, and to using state-of-the-art strategies to continually improve the safety and quality of that care.
Accredited facilities have access to The Joint Commission’s expert advice, so staff has more opportunities to learn and develop skills.
Why should accreditation be important to me?
There are only about 350 organizations that currently maintain Office-Based Surgery Accreditation across the country, so Metro GI is in elite company. When you receive health care at an accredited facility such as Metro GI, you can be confident in the quality of your care. Metro GI and Dr. Gaston don’t just have extremely high standards and goals, but they put those standards and goals into practice every day, providing the highest level of care and service to you. Studies show that accredited facilities do provide better care than non-accredited facilities.
Accreditation also means that Metro GI isn’t resting on its laurels. Accredited facilities should be on the cutting edge of new strategies. That means the already outstanding care at Metro GI will continue to positively evolve as these new methods come online. You can see the full report here.
“We commend Metropolitan Gastroenterology Consultants and its staff for achieving this pinnacle, demonstrating a commitment to patient safety and quality,” said Michael Kulczycki, executive director, Ambulatory Health Care Accreditation Program.
Achieving Joint Commission accreditation also means Metro GI has gone above and beyond the regulatory requirements for Illinois.
Can I congratulate Dr. Gaston and Metro GI?
Sure! We’d love to hear from you! Just reply to this email and we’ll know your congratulations are with us as we celebrate the renewal of our Joint Commission accreditation. If you’d like to voice your congratulations, please call 773-238-1126. We’d love to hear from you, either way!
November is American Diabetes Month and Dr. Darrien Gaston is celebrating by making it easier for you to lose weight and prevent Type 2 diabetes!
American Diabetes Month raises awareness of all types of diabetes, but you may be wondering why Type 2 diabetes seems to always be in the news.
Type 1 diabetes usually is diagnosed in childhood or adolescence. Having Type 1 diabetes means your body is physically unable to make insulin, which cannot be controlled, slowed or cured through diet, exercise or lifestyle changes.
Type 2 diabetes means your body is unable to react properly to insulin. Type 2 diabetes was formerly seen in patients over 40, but now due to the obesity crisis, is being diagnosed in all age groups, including children. While some genetic factors and certain medications can affect the development of Type 2 diabetes, the single greatest risk factor for Type 2 diabetes is being overweight or obese. Almost 90% of those diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese. Extra weight puts extra pressure on your body’s ability to use your own insulin to control your blood sugar levels, making you more likely to develop this serious illness.
The complications from Type 2 diabetes are severe. They include blindness, kidney disease, heart and lung disease, peripheral artery disease which can lead to limb amputation, and stroke. In the U.S., over 200,000 deaths each year are associated with diabetes.
Losing weight is the absolute best way to prevent Type 2 diabetes. If your doctor has cautioned you about your blood sugar levels, has expressed concern about pre-diabetes, or talked to you about your weight, shedding extra pounds is vital to avoiding Type 2 diabetes. In many cases, if you have already been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, losing weight can mean lowering your medication dosage, or that medication is no longer needed.
YES - with the right health factors, people who lose enough weight and change lifestyle habits are able to stop Type 2 diabetes medication completely.
Metropolitan Gastroenterology Consultants and Dr. Darrien Gaston are committed to helping you avoid Type 2 diabetes with Orbera®. The Orbera non-surgical weight loss procedure is stitch-free and staple-free. It’s virtually painless and you’re home the same day, ready to start your new, healthier life. The average Orbera user will lose three times the weight as with diet and exercise alone.
In November, when you make an appointment for a FREE Orbera® consultation. Dr. Gaston will discount this safe, effective, FDA-approved weight loss procedure by $500! Just mention “Diabetes Month” when you schedule your appointment!
Call Dr. Gaston and Metro GI today at 773-238-1126 or click here to make an appointment for your FREE Orbera consultation.
Actually lose weight during the holidays and get a huge head start on January’s “lose weight” resolution - to truly reach your health and wellness goals in 2017.
Hepatitis is a potentially serious condition that causes inflammation of the liver. There are several forms of hepatitis, which can be contracted through a virus, sexual contact, alcoholism or an autoimmune disorder. The symptoms, treatment, and prognosis depend on the type of hepatitis, as well as other factors like the patient's overall health profile and lifestyle.
What are the Different Types of Hepatitis?
The most well known forms of Hepatitis are A, B, and C (there are also two other types, D and E). This category is known as viral hepatitis. In addition to viral, hepatitis can also develop from an autoimmune disorder, where the immune system attacks the liver. Alcohol abuse and side effects from certain medications and drugs can also lead to another form of hepatitis.
Hepatitis A is spread when food or water contaminated with fecal matter from a person with Hepatitis A is consumed. Hepatitis B is spread through contact with bodily fluids (blood, saliva, semen). Hepatitis C is also transmitted through bodily fluids, and is the most common type of viral hepatitis infection in the United States, affecting over two million people.
D is a very rare form of the virus that sometimes occurs in conjunction with B and is also contracted through bodily fluids. E is most common in the developing world, and is contracted by ingesting water contaminated with fecal matter. Autoimmune hepatitis results when the immune system mistakenly attacks liver cells.
What are the Symptoms of Hepatitis?
The symptoms vary depending on the type of hepatitis (many people are unaware that they have contracted hepatitis and do not experience symptoms for years). The most common symptoms of viral hepatitis are:
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
If you are experiencing symptoms or believe you have come into contact with a strain of hepatitis, call (773) 238-1126 to schedule an appointment at Metropolitan Gastroenterology Consultants in the Beverly neighborhood of Chicago.
Is Hepatitis Preventable?
The best way to prevent against food and water borne hepatitis is to thoroughly wash the hands after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, and to exercise caution and avoid drinking tap water when traveling in high-risk regions. Practicing safe sex and avoiding high-risk behavior like drug use and excessive alcohol consumption can help to protect against the other strains of viral hepatitis.
How is Hepatitis Treated?
Hepatitis A is common and typically resolves on its own without causing long-term side effects in healthy individuals. Medication, rest, and abstaining from alcohol are usually prescribed depending on the type of hepatitis.
Hepatitis Diagnosis and Treatment in Chicago
For more information on the signs, symptoms, and treatment options for hepatitis, contact Metropolitan Gastroenterology Consultants by calling (773) 238-1126 to schedule an appointment in the Beverly neighborhood of Chicago today.
Are you tired of diet and exercise programs that just don't work? Is it difficult to change your activity level and eating habits because you have no one to assist you? Your weight loss journey doesn't have to be a solo endeavor. Losing weight with the help of Dr. Darrien Gaston of Metropolitan Gastroenterology in Chicago, IL could be the medically safe and proven successful change you need to optimize health and self-confidence, too.
Weight Loss in Chicago
Exercise and healthy eating habits are key to your best BMI, or body mass index. Board-certified gastroenterologist Dr. Gaston understands that these factors often are not enough, leaving patients discouraged with stops and starts in their weight loss goals. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases states that while invasive bariatric surgeries, such as gastric bypass and banding, work to alleviate obesity and its related health problems, these operations carry risks and side effects because they are invasive.
For qualified patients with a BMI of 30 to 40, Dr. Gaston and his team offer a managed weight loss system called OBERA. Along with lifestyle coaching and medical supervision, FDA-approved OBERA involves endoscopic placement of a saline-filled balloon into the patient's stomach. Reversible in 6 months, this procedure allows the patient excellent portion control and proven weight loss 3.1 times more effective than diet and exercise alone.
How It Works
During a quick, comfortable in-office procedure, your doctor uses an endoscope to enter the esophagus and stomach to insert a balloon. Once in place, the balloon is filled with saline (salt water), reaching the size of a grapefruit. Left in the stomach for about 6 months, the balloon limits how much the individual consumes each day. Along with exercise and good nutrition, weight loss is fast and easy.
After 6 months, Dr. Gaston removes the OBERA balloon right in his office. Patient coaching continues for 6 months to ensure the individual keeps their new lifestyle and body weight on track.
Would You Like a Change?
You don't need to go it alone. Contact Metropolitan Gastroenterology in Chicago, IL, and inquire about weight loss with a stomach balloon procedure. Call for your personal consultation today: (773) 238-1126.
You've probably seen commercials for cream to treat hemorrhoids and heard that it's an uncomfortable condition, but many people don't know what this common problem actually is. At Metro Gastroenterology Consultants, Chicago gastroenterologist, Dr. Darrien Gaston, diagnoses this painful, yet treatable for many of his patients. He answers some of your questions here:
What are hemorrhoids?
In short, hemorrhoids are inflamed blood vessels in the rectal region (the opening for the digestive system) of the body. Hemorrhoidal veins are a normal part of the human anatomy, but can become irritated and painful for various reasons. When people refer to hemorrhoids, they are typically talking about the ones that are inflamed.
What are external vs. internal hemorrhoids?
External hemorrhoids are the "classic" presentation; they are close to the opening of the anus and can be extremely painful or itchy due to the vast network of nerves in that area. They can be seen as bulging areas that are darker pink, red or purple than the surrounding skin. Internal hemorrhoids are located in a more distant area of the rectum where there are few nerve endings, so they typically produce no pain, although patients tell their Chicago gastroenterologist that they've noticed blood on the toilet paper after wiping.
What causes hemorrhoids to develop?
The exact cause of hemorrhoids isn't clear to doctors. It is thought that some people have more sensitive or weaker veins in that area as well as others, which leaves people vulnerable to hemorrhoids or varicose veins; this could be an inherited condition. Other factors that can lead to hemorrhoids are obesity, pregnancy or remaining in a standing or sitting position for a long period of time. Straining to have a bowel movement due to constipation is also a common cause.
How are hemorrhoids treated?
After your Chicago gastroenterologist has performed an examination, he will offer some solutions to help ease the itching and discomfort. Often, changes to your diet coupled with warm baths can be enough to reduce the side effects. However, once hemorrhoids develop, they are likely to return. Minimally invasive treatments, as well as surgery, may be needed to seal off or remove recurring hemorrhoids.
If you think you may be dealing with hemorrhoids, we encourage you to call Metro Gastroenterology Consultants in Chicago to make an appointment with Dr. Darrien Gaston. Relief from your discomfort is a phone call away!
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