Back to School

Have your children had their immunizations, well checks, and sports physicals?  If not, the Family Medicine doctors at Divine Savior Healthcare are here with tips and tricks to help you and your children have a safe and healthy school year. 

“Vaccines are one of the easiest ways to protect your child,” states Divine Savior Healthcare Pediatrician Dr. Cindy Henry.  “When you take your child in for their regularly scheduled well checks, their doctor can help you schedule their immunizations for the appropriate time when they are at the highest risk for illness”. 

Family Medicine Provider Dr. Jill Pogorelec agrees, “Immunizations are so critical because not only do they protect your child, they protect their classmates, the community, or anyone with compromised immunity.”

She continues, “Nutrition is also key for children’s immunity. Getting nutrients directly through a variety of fruits, veggies, whole grains, healthy proteins and not just daily vitamins, is a great way to ensure your child has a high functioning immune system to fight off sickness.”

“Kid-specific foods like juice boxes, sugary cereals and snacks with kid-friendly packaging are not always a healthy choice for children,” warns Family Medicine Provider Dr. Amy Doherty. “It’s best to stick to whole foods and model your eating to encourage healthy eating in your children.” 

When it comes to modeling, it goes beyond nutrition, states Dr. Doherty. “If you’re having trouble getting your children to wear the proper safety equipment for sports or if they feel uneasy going in for their physical, do your best to model your behavior to ease their mind.  If you want them to wear a bike helmet, you wear a bike helmet.”

“Be sure to get your regular check up to make them feel more comfortable with their bodies, going to the doctor, and talking about how their bodies might be changing,” adds Dr. Henry.

On that note, Dr. Pogorelec believes that communication is key, “Make sure your children know what a stranger is and what to do if they feel like they are in danger. Make sure you to talk to them about their feelings and validate any feelings of stress or anxiety they are having over a friend, their homework, or a specific school activity”.

She suggests children look for someone in uniform if they are in need of help and that families have password that only people who are safe to go with know. Dr. Henry shares, “Having open communication, a stable environment, and routine go a long way in making sure children feel safe and able to work through their feelings.”

“If you’re ever in doubt, just give us a call or make an appointment to see us” shares Dr. Doherty.  Divine Savior Healthcare family medicine providers are available at all three of our locations – Portage Clinic, Pardeeville Clinic, and Crossroads Clinic in Oxford.  Call 608-745-4598 or visit DSHealthcare.com to learn more or schedule a visit.


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Experiencing a dull pain in the pit of your stomach

Stomach PainGastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, and gallbladder disease are two very common disorders. Knowing which one you have may be trickier than you think. Symptoms may be vague, such as a “dull pain in the pit of your stomach”, making it hard for you to explain to your doctor what’s exactly going on.

At Divine Savior Healthcare, General Surgeons, Dr. Eric Anderson and Dr. Joshua Pogorelec, have seen many patients with these symptoms and after further examination are able to help  diagnose and treat both diseases.

What is GERD?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease GERD refers to stomach contents moving into the esophagus causing a burning sensation commonly referred to as heartburn. Other symptoms may occur as well, such as pain in the upper abdomen, bloating, nausea and an acid taste in your mouth.  If this continue, prolonged exposure of the esophagus to stomach contents can result in damage to the lining of the esophagus.  This in turn can result in difficulty swallowing, pain with swallowing or permanent damage to the esophagus.

Although not all reflux results in symptoms or damage to the esophagus, common symptoms include:
• Heartburn
• Acid regurgitation
• Belching
• Difficulty or pain when swallowing
• Waterbrash sudden excess of saliva
• Dysphagia the sensation of food sticking in the esophagus
• Chronic sore throat
• Laryngitis
• Inflammation of the gums
• Erosion of the enamel of the teeth
• Chronic irritation in the throat
• Hoarseness in the morning
• A sour taste
• Bad breath
• Coughing at night

What is gallbladder disease?
The gallbladder is located below the liver on the upper right side of the abdomen. The main function of the gallbladder is to store bile, which is made in the liver and allows fat-soluble vitamins and nutrients to be easily absorbed into the bloodstream. Any condition that affects the gallbladder is considered a disease, and there are many different scenarios that fall under gallbladder disease:
• Inflammation
• Gallstones
• Common bile duct stones
• Biliary Dyskinesia
• Infection
• Perforated gallbladder
• Gallbladder polyps
• Porcelain gallbladders
• Gallbladder cancer

Dr. Anderson and Dr. Pogorelec share "the most common disease of the gallbladder is gallstones. Most people with gallstones do not even know they have them.  Once they cause problems, the gallbladder may need to be removed. Symptoms include pain below the right rib cage or in the “pit” of the stomach. This pain may radiate to the right upper back, chest, or shoulder. Other symptoms may include, bloating, nausea or vomiting, fever or chills, chronic diarrhea, jaundice yellow-tinted skin, or unusual lighter-colored stools or dark urine.”

After taking a closer look at GERD and gallbladder disease, Dr. Anderson and Dr. Pogorelec are able to provide helpful insight on common distinguishing factors between the two diseases.

Common distinguishing factors:
• Location: Although both may feel like a “pit in your stomach”, if you experience symptoms located closer to your throat or in your chest it is more likely to be GERD related. Symptoms located near your right lower rib radiating into your right upper back, chest and shoulder are more likely to be associated to your gallbladder.
• Pain: Unlike GERD, gallbladder pain usually begins suddenly, and changing positions, belching, passing gas or taking medications rarely helps pain symptoms go away.
• Timing: With heartburn being the most common symptom of GERD, symptoms of reflux are likely to occur shortly after eating, where symptoms of gallbladder disease usually occurs several hours after eating and have more consistent patterns of reoccurrence the same time each day.

What does treatment look like?
The symptoms of GERD are commonly and effectively treated with over-the-counter medications such as anti-acids and proton pump inhibitors. However, if relief does not go away from these medications your provider may recommend you be evaluated by one of our surgeons at Divine Savior.

After a thorough history and physical, our surgeons may recommend further evaluation of the esophagus and stomach with endoscopy.  Similar to colonoscopy, but without the need for prep, upper endoscopy allows the surgeon to visualize the esophagus, stomach and intestine to evaluate for damage to the esophagus, infection and a hiatal hernia.  Depending on the findings, further testing may be indicated to evaluate the function of the esophagus. 

Patients with severe GERD benefit from surgery to prevent reflux from occurring.  This procedure is commonly performed by both Dr. Anderson and Dr. Pogorelec, is minimally invasive, and very effective at treating GERD.  In fact, most patients no longer require any antacid medications after the procedure.

If you are found to have stones in the gallbladder causing symptoms, the best course of action is to have the gallbladder removed.  Leaving the stones in place will continue to cause pain and may result in serious infection of the gallbladder and bile ducts, jaundice or pancreatitis. 

Both Dr. Anderson and Dr. Pogorelec routinely perform minimally invasive removal of the gallbladder.  This is most often an outpatient procedure and very successful.  After a short recovery, most patients will find their symptoms are gone and they are able to live a normal life. 

If you experience symptoms related to GERD or gallbladder disease, or have concerns about either, it is best to consult your provider for further examination. Treatment for either disease varies person to person, but taking action immediately and being properly treated can help you prevent problems from worsening.

To schedule an appointment with Divine Savior Healthcare General Surgeons, Dr. Anderson or Dr. Pogorelec, call 608-745-5176.

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