6 Superfoods You Should Know And Include In Your Diet

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May 24, 2019 Blog

IBS Symptoms, Colonoscopy Treatment Singapore

What you put in your mouth plays a part in the internal environment of your gut, thus the foods you choose to eat are a crucial component in maintaining your gut health. Sugar-rich and heavily processed foods can leave your gut inflamed and prone to diseases, while whole foods can support your digestive health.

Superfoods offer essential nutrients and vitamins that can promote good health, and go a long way toward repairing any damage and healing your gut. They are also synergistic and work together to benefit your whole body.

Try incorporating the following superfoods into your meals and diet:

1. Eggs

Unlike previously reported, having moderate consumption of eggs will not give your high cholesterol. They are rich in nutrients such as vitamin A, choline, iron and phosphorus. They also contain two potent antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin known to support eye health and protect vision.

There are many ways to prepare and consume eggs, such as omelettes, poached and baked goods. You can also hard-boil a batch of eggs for a quick on-the-go snack.

2. Berries

High in fiber, berries are also rich in minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. They also have strong anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce sustained inflammation in the body caused by inadequate physical activity, unhealthy food choices and stress. Berries can be included in different types of diets and they are also low in calories.

Examples are strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, cranberries and blueberries. You can add them to cereals, smoothies, yoghurts or eat them plain for a snack.

3. Garlic

A popular culinary ingredient, garlic has also been used for centuries for its medicinal benefits. It is a good source of vitamin B5, manganese, fiber, vitamin C and selenium. Garlic also increases your body’s immune function by promoting the growth of white cells, which helps combat sickness and lowers harmful low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and high blood pressure. In general, with its antioxidant, antibacterial and antivirus properties, garlic is good for keeping your body healthy.

4. Dark Leafy Greens

Dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, turnip greens, kale and collard greens are an excellent source of nutrients including iron, fiber, zinc, magnesium, calcium and vitamin C. They also contain high levels of carotenoids, an anti-inflammatory compound that may protect against certain types of cancer. They have the potential to lower the risk of chronic illnesses such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

You can throw them in salads, or stir fry them with a little olive oil and herbs and seasonings for flavour. They can also be added to stews and soups.

5. Kefir

Fermented foods such as kefir are rich in probiotics and enzymes to promote a healthy bacterial balance for proper gut health. Probiotics are known to relieve symptoms of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and restore bacterial balance in the gut. Kefir also have several associated health benefits, such as anti-inflammatory effects, lowered blood pressure, reduced cholesterol and improved digestion, as they contain B vitamins, protein, potassium and more.

6. Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are packed in various plant compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which can help protect against oxidative stress. They are also rich in fiber and heart-healthy fats that may reduce your risk of heart disease.

Some common nuts and seeds include chia seeds, almonds, cashews, walnuts, flax seeds, hemp seeds, macadamia nuts and pistachios. You can add a handful to your yoghurt, cereal or oatmeal, or have it on its own as a snack. They make a great accompaniment to cooked vegetables and salads as well.

The list of superfoods is exhaustive thus good health is best supported by consuming a variety of nutritious foods daily. Try incorporating some of the foods mentioned as part of a balanced diet that is key towards overall health and disease prevention.

Certain foods such as carbonated drinks, dairy products, dried fruits and high-fiber foods can also trigger symptoms like rectal pain, abdominal pain and weight loss if you are suffering from digestive illnesses like ulcerative colitis. This disease causes inflammation and ulcers (sores) in your digestive tract and will require colonoscopy treatment to reduce its signs and symptoms.

If you have dietary concerns or wish to learn more about the suitability of certain foods for your health condition, you can consult with a dietitian or gastroenterology doctor in Singapore.


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May 14, 2019 Blog

Constipation Treatment Singapore, Stomach Pain Symptoms

The gut microbiome is an expansive community of trillions of bacteria that lives in our gastrointestinal tract. Our microbial ecosystems have a major influence on parts of our body such as immune system, body weight, metabolism, mood and appetite. Throwing them off balance can cause us to fall sick, and some illnesses can also disrupt our microbial ecosystems.

Our microbiome can also change throughout our lives as our environment, long-term diet and lifestyle factors continuously play a role as we age. We also have varying gut microbiome which explains why people might have different responses towards the same foods. As researchers learn more about microbes and how it keeps us healthy, there is also an understanding that richer and more diverse gut microbes can help lower the risk of allergies and diseases.

So what can you do to maintain healthy gut flora and increase the number of good bacteria in your body? Start with these diet tips to give your microbiome a healthy boost.

Fermented foods

Fermented foods have been receiving a lot of attention for its various health-promoting attributes, and are known to be beneficial on the gut flora through a probiotic effect. These foods are fermented using natural processes which boost the nutritional values and probiotics, which are live microorganisms essential in healthy digestion. Try kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, unsweetened yoghurt, and soybean-based products like tempeh.

Polyphenol-rich foods

Polyphenols are found in plants and they refer to naturally-occurring compounds. According to researchers, polyphenols act as a prebiotic-type substance and have an effect on the composition of the gut bacteria, increasing the number of healthy gut bacteria. Good choices are berries, nuts and seeds, broccoli, red onion, coffee and tea – especially green tea.

High-fibre vegetables

Once consumed, each type of plant becomes either soluble or insoluble when they enter our digestive system. Insoluble fiber helps to prevent constipation symptoms and speeds up the waste’s movement through the digestive tract. Some soluble fibers are prebiotic, such as inulin and beta-glucan, which helps the good bacteria in our gut to thrive. Good examples are onions and garlic, artichokes, Brussel sprouts, collard greens, broccoli and carrots.

It is crucial to increase your fiber intake gradually and drink plenty of fluids to ensure your waste movement in your digestive tract is going smoothly too. Too much fiber amount may cause bloating and stomach pain symptoms.

Cut down on sugar and artificial sweeteners

They are sugar substitutes commonly used as food additives and are also found diet soda and other soft drinks. Researchers found evidence that suggests consuming artificial sweeteners may adversely affect gut microbial activity which can pose a range of health issues. Consuming large amounts of sugar and sugary foods on a regular basis can be difficult on your gut to achieve a healthy microbiome.

When it comes down to the gut microbiome, our digestive systems plays a vital role in many areas of our health concerns such as immunity, mental health and metabolism. There may also be digestive symptoms such as chronic constipation and blood in stools that will require a colonoscopy to investigate them. Pay attention to what you are eating as your intestinal flora can influence your health in beneficial and harmful ways. You can also visit a gastroenterology specialist in Singapore to know more about your gut health.


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May 10, 2019 Blog

Gastroenterology Specialist Singapore

What is Fibroscan?

Similar to an ultrasound used during pregnancy, Fibroscan is a specialised ultrasound machine that measuressteatosis (fatty change) and fibrosis (scarring) in your liver. It can be used on its own or along with other tests such as imagine scans or blood tests that also helps measure the scarring or fatty changes in your liver.

Fibroscan helps specialists to learn more about your liver, and give a more complete assessment of your liver health.

How is the scan done?

It is a non-invasive, painless and quick procedure that involves a probe being placed on your abdominal wall. The probe will emit a vibration wave in pulses, and 10 reading will be taken minimally to ensure an accurate result. It should take approximately 5 to 10 minutes to perform and you can resume your normal activities afterwards. To prepare for the scan, you will be advised not to consume any food or drink for two hours before the procedure.

Your Fibroscan result

On your next appointment, your gastroenterology specialist will talk to you about your results. Fibroscan calculates the median liver stiffness measurement (LSM) reading and measures the amount of scarring in your liver, giving you your fibrosis result.

The result is measured in kilopascals (kPa) and it is typically between 2 to 6 kPa. A normal liver should also result in a low median LSM. For those with liver disease(s), they can have a result that is higher than the normal range.

Fibrosis score ranges from F0 to F4.

F0 to F1: No liver scarring or mild liver scarring

F2: Liver scarring is moderate

F3: Liver scarring is severe

F4: Liver scarring is more advanced (cirrhosis)

What type of liver diseases can Fibroscan help with?

Because it is principally used to estimate the degree of liver scarring present, the scan is useful to assess patients with the following conditions:

  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Alcoholic liver disease
  • Viral hepatitis B and C
  • Hepatitis C and HIV co-infection
  • Other liver diseases

The liver stiffness reading can also be used to monitor disease progression or regression through a series of measurements, as well as provide prognosis and further management including treatment.

Pitfalls of Fibroscan

There may also be incidences of false elevations such as an over-estimated fibrosis results due to several reasons. As such, liver stiffness readings require careful interpretations with considerations to the following potential factors.

Possible reasons for an over-estimation of fibrosis

  • Benign or cancerous tumours in the liver
  • Liver inflammation (caused by a recent liver illness or alcohol consumption)
  • Cholestasis
  • Liver congestion, typically caused by heart failure

Inaccurate or unreliable readings can also be commonly seen in patients with:

  • Obesity – a body mass index (BMI) higher than 30 – 35
  • Presence of build-up of fluid in the abdomen, known as ascites
  • Biliary obstruction – too little bile flowing out of the liver
  • Features of metabolic syndrome (hypertension, type 2 diabetes, increased waist circumference)

Regardless, the interpretation of the Fibroscan results is best performed by a gastroenterology specialist who is experienced in managing chronic liver diseases and in conjunction with other tests.


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May 3, 2019 Blog

Flatulence Symptoms

Passing wind, farting, or flatulence all refer to the release of excess air through the intestinal tract. It can happen a lot throughout your day, and it is not a major problem for most people. However, if you are experiencing frequent flatulence symptoms, there are several factors that can contribute to excess gas buildup in your intestine.

Causes of Excessive Gas

You can have gas accumulated in your digestive tract simply by swallowing air frequently. This can occur while eating and/or drinking too fast, smoking, sucking on hard candy or even laughing. You might also burp it out, but some can still remain in your stomach, which will eventually be released through your anus when you pass gas.

There are also common gas-causing foods that will cause your stomach to bloat or pass gas, such as cruciferous vegetables, like Brussels sprouts and broccoli, and most starches such as bread and pasta.

Excess gas can also be collected when your intestines are sluggish and food moves through the gut too slowly. The longer that food sits in your system, the more gas-producing bacteria builds up, which causes abdominal discomfort. The intestinal tract also naturally slows down due to ageing, which will reduce your metabolism and the movement of food through the colon, thus producing more gas.

How to Reduce Gas Buildup 

  • Limit your consumption of fermented foods, carbonated beverages, and drinks that are high in fructose. These products will feed the bacteria in your digestive tract and add more gas. Drink plenty of water daily.
  • Avoid eating too fast and swallowing your food with little chewing. You are much more likely to swallow air when you rush down food. Additionally, when you savour your meals and chew longer, more saliva is mixed with the food you are eating. This is important for digestion to assist in the enzymatic breakdown of your meal.
  • Exercise regularly. The more active and frequently you do, exercising can help stimulate and support the passage of gas through the digestive system. You can try abdominal-strengthening exercises which benefit in keeping the digestive tract moving. Aim for at least a 30-minutes work out a day, 3 to 4 times a week.
  • Limit your intake of well-known gassy foods such as cruciferous vegetables, dairy products and certain fruits like pears and apples. They contain fructose, lactose and insoluble fiber that releases gas when fermented in the large intestine. However, don’t avoid them altogether as these foods are still nutritious and make up a part of a healthful, balanced diet.
  • Look out for food intolerances and allergies. Different people are sensitive to different foods and may experience allergies that will cause a reaction in the body. These can lead to symptoms like diarrhoea, bloating and nausea. Having an elimination diet can help someone with excessive gas. Cut out known gas-causing foods and introduce them back in one at a time, to figure out which ones are causing problems.

When to See a Doctor

 If you are so gassy and your flatulence is affecting your daily activities, causing you embarrassment or accompanied by symptoms like vomiting, stomach aches, and blood in the stool, it is recommended that you see a gastroenterology doctor in Singapore. It could be a sign of something more serious.


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April 23, 2019 Blog

Gastroenterology Specialist Singapore

One of the common conditions experienced by many in Singapore is constipation. It is characterised by infrequent bowel movements or difficult passage of stools. It can also cause the stools to be lumpy and hard, and are unusually small or large. The typical length of time between bowel movements depends on the individual, varying from person to person.

In general, constipation is described as having lesser than 3 bowel movements in a week. Going for more than 3 days without passing stools should raise alarms, and your stools can get harder and be more difficult to pass.

Identifying the Symptoms

You may experience the following symptoms of constipation:

  • Few bowel movements, such as passing lesser than 3 stools weekly
  • Hard, lumpy or small stools
  • Straining or having trouble during bowel movements
  • Belly bloating
  • A feeling of not completely emptying the stool from the rectum
  • Needing help to empty the bowels, such as pressing on the abdomen using your hands or using a finger to remove stool from the rectum

Your constipation may be considered a chronic case if you have experienced 2 or more of the above-mentioned symptoms for the last 3 months.

Causes of Constipation

Constipation occurs most commonly when the stool moves too slowly through the digestive tract. It can also occur when the stool cannot be eliminated from the rectum effectively, causing it to become dry and hard.

There are several lifestyle causes, namely:

  • Insufficient water or fiber intake
  • Changes to what you eat in your diet
  • Not being active and irregular exercise
  • Stress

Other causes include:

  • Certain medications such as antidepressants, strong pain drugs and iron pills
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Underactive thyroid
  • Neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease

What Can You Do

You can take the following steps in the event of a constipation:

  • Drink 2 to 4 additional glasses of water daily, unless you are advised by your doctor to limit fluids for a different reason.
  • For mornings, try consuming warm liquids.
  • Eat prunes and bran cereal.
  • Incorporate exercise into your week. When you get active and move your body, this helps the muscles in your intestines to become more active too.
  • Include fruits and vegetables in your diet.
  • Avoid ignoring the urge to poop and go to the bathroom as soon as possible.

When to See a Doctor

If you have sudden constipation and symptoms like cramps, belly pain and inability to poop or pass gas, seek for medical help. Look out for other signs such as blood in stools, unintentional weight loss, severe pain with bowel movements and constipation that has lasted for more than 2 weeks, which also require a doctor’s consultation.

You can also see a gastroenterology specialist in Singapore for your constipation problem and know more about your gut health.


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April 9, 2019 Blog

Gastroenterology Singapore, Hepatitis B Specialist Singapore

When one drinks alcohol heavily over a long period of time, the body can begin to replace healthy tissues in the liver with scar tissues. This condition is known as alcoholic liver cirrhosis, an advanced form of liver disease that is related to alcohol consumption. As the disease progresses, more of the healthy liver tissue will be replaced and the liver will eventually stop functioning properly.

Our liver is a vital organ that does an important job in the body such as breaking down proteins and filtering the blood of toxins. Because the liver tissue starts to scar, it will affect the performance of the liver. The disease can also be part of a progression, starting from fatty liver disease, to alcoholic hepatitis and then progress to alcoholic cirrhosis. However, it is also possible that one can develop alcoholic liver cirrhosis without initially having alcoholic hepatitis.

Symptoms of alcoholic liver cirrhosis

Some people have the impression that alcoholic liver cirrhosis will show certain symptoms. They will continue drinking hoping that some symptoms will come about and only stop drinking when the symptoms occur.

However, in the early stages, there might not be symptoms at all. They begin to appear or be noticeable only in the later stages, which can often be too late.

These symptoms share similarities to other alcohol-related liver disorders and include:

  • Jaundice
  • Lower limb swelling
  • Confusion or problems thinking
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Kidney failure

Causes

The chances of getting alcoholic liver disease or cirrhosis increase the longer a person have been drinking and the more alcohol is consumed. Additionally, liver cells are only able to process a certain amount of alcohol and break it down into other chemicals hourly. If alcohol is consumed at a faster rate than the liver is able to process, the body’s bloodstream will see a rise in alcohol levels which can be damaging.

Therefore, alcohol should always be taken in moderation. Always watch out for signs that you need to stop drinking. Firstly, look at the quantity you drink and whether you are drinking large amounts in one sitting. It is recommended that it is safe for an adult male to consume 3 cans of beer and 2 cans of beer for an adult female a day. Frequency is also another factor. If you drink daily or almost every day, it is a good time to pause for a while.

Diagnosis

Gastroenterology specialists can diagnose alcoholic liver cirrhosis. Besides discussing the patient’s history of drinking and taking a medical history, the doctor will also run tests that are able to confirm a cirrhosis diagnosis.

Fibroscan is also able to assist in the diagnosis as well as give a complete assessment of one’s liver health. This non-invasive scan measures the stiffness of the liver and provides an estimate of the amount of scarring present in the liver. It helps to assess patients suffering from liver diseases such as hepatitis B, cirrhosis or fatty liver in Singapore, and whether they may need to start treatment accordingly.


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March 29, 2019 Blog

Constipation Symptoms, Constipation Singapore

Having an adequate fiber intake can bring many health benefits and reduce your risk of chronic diseases. Found in foods, fibers can help in improving digestion, blood glucous levels, and lowering the risk of certain types of cancer and arthritis. Depending on the type of fiber, it also regulates blood sugar, helps with weight control and reduces constipation symptoms.

Seeing how essential dietary fiber is and the various health benefits it brings, here’s some quick, easy ways to incorporate fibrous foods into your daily diet with minimal effort.

  • Snack on fruits

Individual pieces of fruit make great snacks and they are portable and tasty. Some fruits have significantly more fiber than others. High-fiber fruits include apples, berries and pears. They can also be paired with foods that contain protein and/or fat such as cheese or nut butter, and improve fullness.

  • Eat the veggies first in meals

Vegetables are full of minerals, vitamins and fiber and offer plenty of health benefits including lowering your risk of several chronic diseases. It is a good strategy to eat your vegetables before a meal so you are able to eat more of them. Non-starchy vegetables such as artichokes, baby corn, Chinese spinach and carrots are high in nutrients and fiber while being low in calories.

  • Choose whole grains over refined grains

Due to the fact that whole grains are minimally processed, they are still intact with their germ, bran and hull, making them more nutritious. On the other hand, refined grains are only left with a fast-absorbing carb with the most nutritious parts taken away. Replace the refined grains with whole-grain versions in your diet, such as whole-wheat pasta or whole-wheat bread. You can also try oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, millet and barley.

  • Snack on nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds make for a heart-healthy snacks and are full of beneficial nutrients, protein and fiber. They are also versatile foods and shelf-stable, making them ideal to snack on during the day. They can also be added in recipes to add extra fiber and nutrition to your meals.

  • Include beans and legumes in your diet

Legumes and beans contain a wide variety of nutrients and they are rich in fiber, vitamins, protein and minerals. They also have a positive impact on the gut microbiome and may reduce the risk of chronic disease. For example, a cup of cooked beans can meet up to 75% of your daily fiber requirements. Try chickpeas, soybeans, lentils, alfafa, tamarind, red kidney beans and lupins.

You can adopt the strategies mentioned above to help boost your fiber intake to optimal amounts. Having a balanced intake is crucial so you can receive the benefits for your health. You can also consult with a dietitian or gastroenterology specialist in Singapore to learn more about incorporating more dietary fiber and boost your gut health.


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March 22, 2019 Blog

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a disorder where one experience changes in their bowel movements with symptoms like diarrhoea, constipation and abdominal pain. The medical condition of IBS in Singapore is a common occurrence. Aside from medical intervention which is important in the treatment of IBS, certain foods can also be a trigger to their condition. To manage IBS, it is advisable to eliminate some of the common foods that are more likely to cause or worsen digestive symptoms.

Certain foods high in fibre

Increasing your intake of fibre can worsen your IBS symptoms, particularly if you have gas and diarrhoea frequently. These include nuts, whole grains, broccoli, tomatoes and cabbage. However, you can try on sources of soluble fibre in produce items like carrots, berries, apples and oatmeal, which dissolve in water.

Gluten

Commonly found in grain products, gluten is a protein that can badly affect the intestines for people who are intolerant to gluten or experience IBS. Try to eliminate rye, barley and wheat-based products like cereal, bread and pasta from your diet and observe if your gastrointestinal problems improve

Lactose

For people who have dairy intolerance, they face a digestive problem in which their body is not able to digest sugars found in milk. As such, they may experience flatulency, bloating and bouts of diarrhoea. Avoids foods like cheese, yogurt, milk and ice cream.

High-fat foods

Foods with high fat content can be harsh on the system for people with IBS, especially frying food which changes the chemical makeup of the food and makes it more difficult to digest.  Processed foods like premade frozen meals and fried foods are the common offending foods that can trigger IBS symptoms.

Sweeteners

Some types of sugar can be poorly absorbed by the bowel, which includes sorbitol and fructose. They are commonly used as a sweetener found in dietetic foods, gums, candies, corn syrup, and diet drinks. They can also be found naturally in honey and some fruits.

Caffeine

Caffeine has a stimulating effect on the intestines that can be a trigger for people with IBS and cause symptoms like diarrhoea. Chocolate snacks and caffeinated drinks like teas, coffee and soda are such examples due to their high sugar content and concentration of caffeine.

Gas Producing Foods

When you eat too much of foods that are gas-producing, this may cause increased bloating and retention of gas. Such foods include beans and other legumes like peas and lentils, onions, raisins, Brussel sprouts and cauliflower.

Seeing a Doctor for IBS

It is important to keep in mind that everyone’s food triggers and digestion will vary from one individual to another. Getting to know your own body and keeping a food diary is important to know which foods are those you will have a bad reaction to.

If your IBS symptoms still persist despite making dietary changes, it may be time to visit a doctor for IBS.


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March 6, 2019 Blog

Hepatitis B Doctor Singapore, Hepatitis B Treatment Singapore

Jaundice occurs when there are high levels of bilirubin (a yellow bile pigment) in the blood, causing the skin or whites of the eyes (sclera) to turn and look yellow. This condition, called hyperbilirubinemia, is caused when there is a problem in any of the 3 phases during bilirubin production.

Bilirubin is produced when the haemoglobin (red blood cells) is broken down and carried in the bloodstream to the liver where it binds with bile. Then, it is moved into the digestive tract, through the bile ducts, where it will be eliminated from the body, mostly in stools but a small amount in urine too. When bilirubin cannot be moved quickly enough through the liver and bile ducts, the result is a build-up in the blood which gets deposited in the skin, leading to jaundice.

Causes of Jaundice

There are many causes of jaundice that contribute to these factors:

  • Interrupt the flow of bile
  • Affect the production of bilirubin
  • Damage the liver
  • Trigger hemolysis (the destruction of red blood cells), which produces more bilirubin than what the liver can handle

Conditions that affect the production of bilirubin include:

  • Viruses – Hepatitis A, Chronic Hepatitis B and C
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Medicines – NSAIDs, Antibiotics, Acetaminophen

Conditions that may cause an obstruction along biliary tract that prevents the flow of bile into the intestines:

  • Cholecystitis
  • Gallstones
  • Gallbladder Cancer
  • Pancreatitis
  • Pancreatic Cancer
  • Cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer)

Symptoms of Jaundice

The obvious characterisation of jaundice is yellow-tinted skin and eyes. You may also have dark urine and light-coloured stools. Other symptoms include vomiting, fever, abdominal pain, weight loss, and skin itching (pruritus).

It is important to not misdiagnose yourself when you experience yellow skin only, as it may be due to excess beta carotene in your system. It is an antioxidant found in foods such as sweet potatoes, pumpkins and carrots. Too much of this antioxidant is not a cause of jaundice.

Look out for warning signs and more serious symptoms like stomach pain and tenderness, blood in vomit or stools, tendency to bruise or bleed easily, and changes in mental function such as confusion, drowsiness or agitation.

How is Jaundice Evaluated and Diagnosed?

When you visit a clinic in Singapore, your doctor will perform a physical examination and carry out blood tests to confirm the presence of jaundice and further determine its cause. Usually, imaging tests such as computed tomography (CT) scanning, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) are done to detect blockages in the bile ducts. Sometimes, a biopsy may be required if certain causes are suspected or when the diagnosis is unclear after receiving the results of other tests. Treatments for jaundice depend on the cause identified.


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February 11, 2019 Blog

Hepatitis B (HBV) is virus that primarily causes inflammation of the liver. It can lead to scarring of the organ, chronic infection, liver failure and liver cancer. If it isn’t treated, it can be fatal. One can become a chronic carrier if the infection lasts for more than six months.

HBV can spread commonly through:

  • Sexual contact – There is likelihood of contracting hepatitis B if you have unprotected sex with an infected person. The virus can be passed to you if the person’s saliva, blood, vaginal secretions or semen enter your body.
  • Sharing of needles – Needles and syringes that are contaminated with infected blood can spread HBV easily. You can face a high risk of hepatitis B if you share IV drug paraphernalia.
  • Needlestick injuries – HBV is a concern for healthcare workers, and people who work with hypodermic syringes and other needle equipment, and come in contact with human blood. They are wounds caused by needles that puncture the skin accidentally, that typically occur during usage, disassembly or disposal of needles.
  • Mother to child – Women who are pregnant and infected with Hepatitis B can pass the virus to their infant during childbirth. However, the newborn can receive vaccinations to avoid getting the infection. Pregnant women or women who want to become pregnant should talk to their doctors about being tested for Hepatitis B.

Risk factors of Hepatitis B

The virus spread through contact with body fluids like blood and semen from an infected person. The risk of HBV infection increases if you:

  • Share needles during IV drug use
  • Have unprotected sex with someone who is infected with HBV or with more than one sex partner
  • Are a man who has sex with other men
  • Work in a job with exposure to human blood
  • Travel to regions with increased HBV infection rates such as Asian, Eastern Europe, the Pacific Islands and Africa

Symptoms of Hepatitis B

There are often no symptoms of Hepatitis B, but it can also feel like other illnesses such as the flu. Hence, it is possible to have the infection and not know it. When they do appear, the symptoms usually show up about one to four months after being infected.

The signs and symptoms of Hepatitis B include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Jaundice
  • Joint pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dark-coloured urine
  • Pale-coloured bowel movements

Seeing a Doctor

Head to a clinic and see a doctor immediately if you know you have been exposed to hepatitis B. Within 24 hours of exposure to the virus, a preventive treatment may help reduce your risk of infection. If you are showing symptoms, your doctor will examine for signs of liver damage such as belly pain and yellowing skin.

The tests that can help diagnose hepatitis B are:

  • Blood tests to detect signs of the virus in the body, and assess whether it’s acute or chronic
  • Liver ultrasound can show the amount of liver damage
  • Liver biopsy involves a small tissue sample of the liver for testing to check for liver damage

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