Regular Exams can Help Men Avoid Health Issues

Let's face it – men often leave their health up to fate. Divine Savior Healthcare encourages men of all ages to avoid gambling with their health and see their doctor on a regular basis, not just when an accident happens or something goes seriously wrong.

General Surgeons at Divine Savior Healthcare, Dr. Eric Anderson and Dr. Joshua Pogorelec would like to reassure men of all ages that going to the doctor shouldn’t be something to be nervous or embarrassed about. “We decided to make medicine our career because we want to help people – regardless of their ailment or circumstances, we aim to make everyone comfortable,” states Dr. Pogorelec.

Dr. Anderson adds, “Unfortunately, we see a lot of hernia repairs, gallbladder surgeries, and colon irregularities in gentlemen that could have been prevented had they come to see us or their primary care doctor sooner.”


CDC data shows that 73 percent of adult men are either overweight or obese. “A lot of the conditions we see could have been prevented by maintaining a healthier weight and lifestyle,” states Dr. Pogorelec. For instance, a diet high in fiber—rich in fruits, veggies, whole grains, and water—will help you maintain a healthy weight. It will also keep your digestive system healthy, reduce the chance of constipation, and decrease your risk of a hernia, a common ailment for men that occurs when the soft tissue in your intestine protrudes through a weak spot in your abdominal wall.

“We see a lot of men who tend to overdo it,” states Dr. Anderson. If you want to prevent a hernia, it’s best to leave the heavy lifting to equipment best suited for it. For example, use a snow blower instead of a shovel this winter.  If you must lift something heavy, bend your knees, not your waist.  These tips will help prevent unnecessary hernias.

Keeping active and limiting the alcohol will also help maintain weight and limit your risk of gallbladder issues, GERD, heart disease, and certain types of cancer. If you choose to drink alcohol, do so only in moderation. That means up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger and one drink a day for men older than age 65. If you’re having trouble getting your exercise in, choose activities you enjoy, such as golf or brisk walking.

Lastly, Drs. Anderson and Pogorelec highly recommend seeing your doctor for regular checkups and screenings, especially colonoscopies. “It is important to discuss with your doctor the appropriate time for you to have a colonoscopy,” states Dr. Pogorelec, “while most men should have one at age 50, there are factors that may change that recommendation”. Dr. Anderson adds, “Men shouldn’t be afraid to come see us regularly for routine care, the earlier the better in almost all cases”.

If you do have a bothersome hernia, are experiencing stomach pain, or are due for a routine colonoscopy, the General Surgeons of Divine Savior Healthcare would be pleased to provide you a consultation to determine your treatment options. Call Dr. Eric Anderson and Dr. Josh Pogorelec at (608) 745-5176 to schedule an appointment.

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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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