Frequently Asked Questions

Do ulcers come back?

Taking an ulcer medication can heal the ulcer but if the bacteria are still present, the ulcer will most likely come back. If an ulcer is caused by medication, then stopping the medication can prevent ulcer recurrences. There is a group of patients who may have ulcers unrelated to H. Pylori or drugs and these ulcers may recur spontaneously.

If I have Barrett’s esophagus, will I develop esophageal cancer?

Barrett’s esophagus is believed to increase the risk of developing esophageal cancer. However, the true risk of developing esophageal cancer in people with Barrett’s esophagus remains controversial. Most physicians recommend that people with Barrett’s esophagus undergo endoscopy about every two years to screen for cancer and allow early treatment. In some cases more frequent endoscopy is recommended.

What is the cause of excessive flatulence and burping? What tests are required to confirm the cause and remedies (either food or medication) are available to help me?

This is a common problem! We all pass gas and or experience burping but for some people, these symptoms can be really bothersome.  It is important to recognize that everyone has gas in the digestive tract.  When there is some gas and fluid in the intestines, movements (contractions) of the intestines to propel the contents onwards may cause rumblings. 

There two major causes of excessive gas: 

First, subconscious swallowing of air can result in excessive burping.  Eating slowly, avoiding gum chewing and smoking, rectifying problems that lead to phlegm accumulation in the back of the throat (such as postnasal drip), and correcting a habit of clearing the throat and swallowing can help minimize air swallowing.  Belching often induces instinctive reflex swallowing with further gas accumulation so you need to make a conscious effort not to swallow after each belch.

And second, gas can form as a result of the breakdown of certain dietary items, especially carbohydrates, by bacteria normally present in the large intestine. Foods that cause gas include beans, broccoli, cabbage, fruit drinks, carbonated drinks, and dairy products.  Beano (obtainable over-the-counter) may help to reduce gas formation when you have a lot of vegetables and fruits at any meal.

There is no one answer or diagnosis that applies to all people. I suggest that you contact your family doctor and discuss your symptoms and the tests he or she might want to do.

How can I avoid Traveler’s Diarrhea when traveling abroad?

Three common ways to contract traveler’s diarrhea are through contaminated water, contaminated food and poor hygiene.

Water safety can be questionable, so it is important to avoid tap water as much as possible. Only drink boiled or bottled water and avoid ice cubes.

The food you eat can be contaminated. When traveling, try to select foods that are served hot and are completely cooked, avoid raw meats, eat fruits you can peel, and avoid raw leafy vegetables.

To avoid infecting yourself, try to clean your hands often, especially before eating. Use soap and water or a hand sanitizer and avoid touching your face and mouth.

Can I use tap water from the hotel to brush my teeth?

Using tap water to brush your teeth is best avoided as the water may be contaminated. To avoid getting sick, use bottled water when brushing your teeth; this is the best way to protect yourself.

If I get traveler’s diarrhea, how long will it last?

Most cases of traveler’s diarrhea are mild and typically last 3-5 days. However, some cases can become severe and may result in dehydration, fatigue and a high-grade fever that may require hospitalization.

Can I die from traveler’s diarrhea?

Traveler’s diarrhea is generally neither life threatening nor severe. Most bouts of the illness begin within the first week of travel and resolve on its their own within 3-5 days. When treating traveler’s diarrhea, the goal is to prevent dehydration, which can be of special concern for children, pregnant women, those with compromised immune systems, and the elderly.

If you are at increased risk for any of the reasons above, you should consult your family physician to discuss whether you should take a course of antibiotics with you to take if you have a bout of traveler’s diarrhea.

When travelling, can I shower in the local water?

Yes you can, just make sure you don’t swallow any water. {And don’t swallow water when swimming)

Can I take an antimotility drug?

Antimotility drugs, like Imodium or Lomotil, can reduce the amount of diarrhea you experience. If you decide to use this over-the-counter treatment, you should speak with your physician or pharmacist first. Diarrhea is one way the body rids itself of pathogens (microorganisms that cause disease) from the gastrointestinal tract. Taking these antimotility drugs may mean it takes the body longer to clear the pathogen.

Bismuth-containing medicines, such as Pepto-Bismol, may help with the diarrhea as bismuth has antibacterial properties.

Where am I most likely to get traveler’s diarrhea?

You can contract traveler’s diarrhea from anywhere in the world, but you are at greater risk of contracting the condition when visiting, Central and South America, Mexico, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Eastern Europe, South Africa and some parts of the Caribbean. The risk of traveler’s diarrhea increases in areas with lower hygiene and sanitation standards and poor food-handling practices.

Enhancing lifelong health

The Canadian Digestive Health Foundation believes our ability to help establish, enrich and protect a healthy gut microbiota is the key to lifelong health