In recent years, there have been dramatic improvements made within hernia surgery. Today, the procedure is simple, highly effective, and can be carried out quickly. But despite how advanced hernia removal techniques have become, there is still a risk of recurrence.

The hernia recurrence rate is currently said to be around 20%. The good news is that it is possible to prevent a recurring hernia. In this blog, we reveal why hernias typically come back and what you can do to lower the risk.

What causes a recurring hernia?

There are a lot of factors that can cause a recurring hernia. The most common include:

  • The type of repair carried out
  • Complex hernias
  • Lifestyle factors

Did you know that the type of repair carried out could impact the chance of hernia recurrence? Traditional open surgical repairs that don’t use mesh are said to present the biggest risk. When the surgical mesh is used, it is said to lower the chance of recurrence to 3%.

Incisional hernias also tend to pose the biggest threat of recurrence. They occur through an incision that was previously made within the wall of the abdomen. If the incision didn’t heal properly, the surrounding wall is weaker. This allows a hernia to easily break through the incision site. When repairing the hernia, an additional incision is required which can add to the problem.
Finally, certain lifestyle factors can also increase the risk of a recurring hernia. Smoking, being overweight, heavy exercise, and pregnancy are the main risk factors to be aware of. Each of them places strain upon the abdomen, causing a hernia to form.

Tips to avoid a recurring hernia

While it isn’t always possible to prevent hernia recurrence, there are some things you can do to lower your risk. Here are some of the best tips to follow…

Seek treatment early

The best way to prevent a recurring hernia is to seek treatment for your original hernia quickly. Emergency hernia repairs are known to increase the risk of recurrence. This type of repair is typically carried out when the hernia has been left untreated. So, the earlier you seek treatment, the less likely it is to happen again.

Follow a healthy lifestyle

As hernia recurrence is increased due to certain lifestyle factors, following a healthy routine is essential. This means getting plenty of daily exercise, eating a balanced diet, and reducing your consumption of alcohol. If you smoke, quitting will also reduce the risk of hernia recurrence.

Chat to an experienced surgeon

Everybody’s risk factor of a recurring hernia is different. Therefore, if you want to lower your own risk, it’s important to choose an experienced hernia surgeon, and arrange a consultation.

Mr Woodward only uses the latest techniques in hernia repair, so that you receive the highest standard of treatment and a reduced risk of recurrence. He can assess your individual circumstances and advise you on your personalised risk and options.
To learn more about recurring hernias or to seek treatment for an existing hernia, book a consultation with Mr Woodward today.

Researchers from the Institute of Food Research based in Colney, have discovered a new virus that could prove beneficial for diarrhoea sufferers. It is primarily being looked at as a potential treatment for Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infections. So, what is the new virus and how might it help?

Below, you’ll discover more about this latest research, as well as learn more about C. diff infections.

What is the new virus and how could it help?

The new virus has been given the name Colneyvirus, after the location of where it was discovered. It is a type of virus known as a bacteriophage. This means it attacks bacteria. In their research, the scientists discovered that it could help to fight C. diff infections, without causing any damage to the body’s microbiome.

Additional research will need to be carried out to determine whether it is effective at fighting C. diff infections. However, the researchers are hopeful that it could be used to treat the condition in the future.

Understanding Clostridium difficile infections

Clostridium difficile is a kind of bacteria that can cause the bowels to become infected. This leads to diarrhoea, alongside other unpleasant symptoms such as a fever, and loss of appetite.

The bacteria are naturally present within the digestive system in many healthy adults. It is typically managed by other bacteria but taking antibiotics can cause the bacteria levels to become unbalanced. It can be passed to other people and live on hands and surfaces for a long period of time.

If left untreated, a C. diff infection can lead to serious complications. If you have severe diarrhoea, it can cause dehydration which in turn can be deadly.

Those who have recently taken antibiotics have underlying conditions, and those with a weak immune system are most at risk of developing the infection.

How are C. diff infections diagnosed and treated?

If you have a mild C. diff infection, it should be able to be treated at home. However, in many cases, hospital treatment is required.

The main treatment options include:

  • Halting the antibiotics responsible for the infection
  • Taking antibiotics specifically to fight the bacteria
  • Surgery to remove part of the bowel

In minor cases, stopping taking the antibiotics responsible for the infection could be all that is needed. However, most patients end up taking antibiotics specifically to fight the bacteria for a period of 10-14 days.
In severe cases, you may need to undergo surgery to remove a small, damaged part of the bowel. The procedure is known as bowel resection.

If you have been suffering from a C. diff infection, Mr Woodward can carry out diagnostic tests. If bowel surgery is needed, he can advise you of the best one to suit your circumstances. If you need further advice, book a consultation with Mr Woodward.

Crohn’s Disease can cause a lot of unpleasant symptoms for patients. Not only can it lead to debilitating pain, but it can also leave you feeling fatigued.

So, why does Crohn’s Disease cause fatigue and how can you combat it? Learn everything you need to know below…

Common Crohn’s Disease symptoms

Crohn’s Disease is a type of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), causing inflammation to develop within the digestive tract. Its most common symptoms include:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Cramps and abdominal pain
  • Weight loss and a reduction in appetite
  • Blood in the stools
  • Sores in the mouth

Patients usually experience flare-ups, alongside periods of remission. The symptoms you experience can be mild or severe. While fatigue is one of the most common symptoms, it isn’t talked about as much as other symptoms.

Why does Crohn’s Disease Cause Fatigue?

Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of Crohn’s Disease, and there are several reasons why it occurs.
The chemical signals that are produced when the body becomes inflamed impact the brain. This causes a lack of energy and fatigue. You may also be experiencing anaemia, which is known to cause extreme tiredness.
Due to the digestive troubles the condition causes, it can also lead to a nutritional deficiency. This in turn will cause fatigue. Other causes include issues with sleep, arthritis, and medications.

What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

In some Crohn’s Disease patients, mild fatigue can develop into chronic fatigue syndrome. This is a long-term problem that causes constant tiredness. However, it can also cause the following symptoms:

  • Sleep troubles
  • Problems with the memory and concentration
  • Heart palpitations
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Flu-like symptoms

There aren’t any specialist diagnostic tests that can detect chronic fatigue syndrome. Therefore, it is typically diagnosed by eliminating other potential causes of fatigue.

What can you do to combat it?

If you are suffering from either general fatigue or chronic fatigue syndrome, there are ways to combat it. First, you’ll need to establish the cause. For example, if it turns out you have anaemia, you may need medications or adjustments to your diet.
You will also want to avoid anything that triggers a flare-up of the condition. This will help to manage inflammation, reducing tiredness. Smoking, coffee, and fatty foods are all common Crohn’s Disease triggers to avoid.
If you are diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, you may be given medications, or put on a strict exercise program. While regular exercise can help to prevent flare-ups and manage the symptoms, if you overdo it, you’ll feel even more tired than you do now.

Treating Crohn’s Disease

If you are experiencing constant tiredness, it is important to know if you have an underlying condition. If you are diagnosed with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, surgery might be your best option to resolve the problem. If left untreated, the conditions could worsen.
Contact Alan Woodward for a consultation by calling 03000 204 734and he will talk through your treatment options with you.

If you suffer from gallbladder disease, you’ll know how painful and uncomfortable it can be. Millions of people suffer from this digestive disorder worldwide. While in most cases the condition can be treated successfully, occasionally complications can arise. For example, can it cause your gallbladder to burst?

Here, you will discover more about gallbladder disease and the symptoms it creates. What is Gallbladder Disease?

Gallbladder disease is a term used to describe several conditions. These include:

  • Gallstones
  • Inflammation
  • Tissue growth within the gallbladder
  • Chronic Acalculous gallbladder disease

Located just underneath the liver, your gallbladder is used to concentrate and store bile. It is released to aid in digestion, helping to break down fat. Although this is undoubtedly an important function, you don’t actually need your gallbladder to survive.

Common symptoms to watch out for

There are some common symptoms of gallbladder disease to look out for. The most common one is biliary colic, causing intermittent pain. This is typically located within the upper part of the abdomen and can spread to the back.

If you have symptomatic gallstones, you may also develop inflammation within the gallbladder. This occurs due to a blockage. You will experience constant, severe pain within the upper abdomen which may last for a few days. You’ll find it more painful when you breathe in, and you may experience fever and chills.

With chronic gallbladder disease, you will have mild inflammation and gallstones. Common symptoms include nausea, gas, chronic diarrhoea, jaundice, and discomfort in the abdomen.

Can the gallbladder burst?

The gallbladder can burst due to trauma, infection, or severe inflammation. When it does, it is referred to as a gallbladder rupture. It causes symptoms such as sharp pain within the abdomen, vomiting, jaundice, and fever.

If you suspect your gallbladder has ruptured, you should seek medical help as soon as possible. Your doctor can carry out several tests to diagnose the rupture, including ultrasounds, a CT scan, and blood tests. If a rupture is diagnosed, your gallbladder will usually need to be removed.

What are your gallbladder disease treatment options?

To prevent a gallbladder rupture, it’s important to get gallbladder disease under control. There are several treatment options available including ERCP and simple lifestyle adjustments.

If your gallbladder disease isn’t causing any unpleasant side effects, you may just need to make different lifestyle choices. This includes avoiding fatty foods as fat is known to stimulate the release of bile from the gallbladder.

ERCP is short for Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography. It is used to remove gallstones from the bile duct. A small tube will be inserted down the throat, directly into the digestive tract.

The best way to combat chronic gallbladder disease is through the removal of the gallbladder. This can be done through a small incision made in the navel.

If you suspect you have gallbladder disease, book a consultation with Mr Woodward today to discuss your treatment options.

Hernia surgery is often the most effective way to eliminate your hernia and its symptoms. However, like any surgery, there will be a recovery period. The recovery time will vary from person to person, and there are certain things you should and shouldn’t do.

One thing you may be wondering is whether sex will be painful after hernia surgery?

Here, you’ll discover how hernia surgery could impact your sex life…

How soon can you have sex after hernia surgery?

How soon you’ll be able to have sex after hernia surgery depends upon the following factors:

  • The type of hernia you have and its location
  • The type of surgery you undergo
  • Your overall health
  • Whether any complications arose during the procedure

Your surgeon will recommend avoiding vigorous sexual activity for anything from a few days to several weeks. If you undergo laparoscopic surgery for the common inguinal hernia, you can usually get back to having sex pretty quickly. It really depends upon how much pain you are in.

In many cases, the scrotum will be slightly swollen and sore for up to a week. Wait until it doesn’t hurt before you even think about having sex again. If you need a more accurate timeline of how long to wait, discuss it with Mr Alan Woodward in your initial consultation. He can advise you on how long to wait, as it will depend upon your individual circumstances.

Will it hurt?

Sex shouldn’t hurt if you have given the area plenty of time to heal. Some men don’t feel any pain at all, while others experience it for up to a week. Depending upon where the hernia was, you could feel pain around the testicles, scrotum, and groin.

In rare cases, hernia surgery can cause pain during sex even after the recommended recovery period. If you are having trouble, talk to your doctor to determine the best course of treatment.

Can hernia surgery cause sexual dysfunction?

Although it is uncommon, hernia surgery can cause sexual dysfunction. It is estimated that around 5.3% of men experience sexual dysfunction after surgery. The good news is that most of the time, it is only temporary. However, there is a possibility it could be a lasting complication of the surgery.

The best way to determine how soon you can have sex after hernia surgery is to book a consultation with Mr Alan Woodward. He will be able to give you a more accurate idea of how long it will take to heal. Also, if you are worried about the risk of sexual dysfunction, you can talk through your concerns.

Acid reflux, or GERD, is a common condition that can cause a variety of symptoms. More than just heartburn, it can often cause other unpleasant issues such as fatigue and headaches.

Here, we’ll look at what Acid Reflux is, and the common symptoms it presents. You’ll also discover the best ways to treat the condition.

What is GERD?

GERD is short for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, and it is a chronic form of acid reflux. It is diagnosed when you suffer with acid reflux more than twice each week. Although it isn’t usually serious, it can lead to complications if it isn’t treated.

It occurs when the lower oesophageal sphincter doesn’t close or tighten properly. Digestive juices and stomach contents are able to rise upwards into your oesophagus. Those who are most at risk of the condition include:

  • Those who are obese or overweight
  • Pregnant women
  • Those taking certain medications such as antidepressants and calcium channel blockers
  • Smokers

The condition can occur at any age, and it is sadly extremely common. So, what symptoms does it present?

Are headaches and heartburn the only symptoms?

Heartburn is the number one symptom GERD produces. You’ll find it worsens after lying down, eating, or bending over. Although heartburn is the main symptom of GERD, not everyone with GERD experiences it. Other symptoms include:

  • Bad breath
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty or pain when swallowing
  • Fatigue
  • Respiratory issues

If you have any of these symptoms and they cannot be explained, it could point to GERD. It may seem like a harmless condition, even if it is painful, but it can cause significant issues if left untreated.

What complications can arise if GERD isn’t treated?

There is the possibility GERD can develop into something more serious if it isn’t treated. You may start to experience breathing problems, or it could turn into Esophagitis. This is basically inflammation of the oesophagus.

Other conditions it can lead to include Barrett’s Oesophagus, and Oesophageal stricture. The latter makes it difficult to swallow, while Barrett’s Oesophagus can develop into cancer.

So, if you do suspect you have GERD, seeking treatment quickly is important. Not only will this help to prevent serious complications, but it will also help to eliminate any pain and discomfort you feel too.

How can you treat it?

There are a number of ways to treat GERD, starting with making simple lifestyle changes, like your diet. You may also find over-the-counter medications such as antacids are helpful at easing symptoms.

Most of the time, simple lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications are enough. However, in some cases surgery may be required to fully eliminate the symptoms. Speak to Mr Woodward today to determine the best course of treatment to eliminate your GERD symptoms.

If you suspect you may have a hernia, it’s important to determine the type before you can seek treatment. If you play a lot of sport, it’s possible you could be suffering from a sports hernia, rather than a regular hernia. So, what’s the difference and how will it affect treatment?

Find out everything you need to know about sports vs regular hernias below…

What is a sports hernia?

Sports hernias, otherwise known as Athletic Pubalgia Syndrome, occur when the tendons or muscles of the abdomen weaken. Those with a strong core may think they are protected against this type of hernia. However, they occur more in those with thinner, rather than weaker muscles.

They tend to occur due to twisting and changing direction during athletic activity, and affect both men and women. Sports hernias are particularly prevalent in football players, ballet dancers, hockey players, and golfers.

What’s the difference?

A sports hernia develops in the same region as a regular hernia. However, there are some differences to be aware of. Regular, or Inguinal hernias, occur solely within the Inguinal canal. Sports hernias on the other hand, can occur anywhere within the abdominal area.

Sports hernias also don’t present a visible pouch like Inguinal hernias do. This can make them tricky to diagnose. However, there are other symptoms to watch out for including:

  • Pain within the abdominal area when carrying out activity
  • Testicle pain in men
  • Hip pain
  • Pain reduction when resting from sport

These are the main symptoms to watch out for. If you suspect you do have a sports hernia, it is important to first seek diagnosis before you can undergo treatment.

Treatment options

There are several treatment options available to treat a sports hernia, depending upon its severity. For very mild hernias, you may just need a period of rest. However, most hernias will not clear up on their own without treatment.

Physical therapy can be useful at strengthening the muscles and improving flexibility. This will help to prevent future hernias. You may also be prescribed anti-inflammatory medications to help reduce any pain and swelling.

In severe cases, you may need to undergo surgery. This will involve either an open or an endoscopic procedure to repair the torn tissues. Around 90% of patients who undergo this treatment return to their sport. However, some patients have a recurrence of the hernia in their sport, and the surgical repair needs to be repeated.

In some cases, the pain may not go away after the initial surgical procedure. If your pain doesn’t reside, a secondary procedure may be carried out to cut the tendon or nerve in the affected area.

Sports hernias and regular hernias are very similar. But it is mostly where they occur that differentiates them. Book a consultation and speak to Mr Alan Woodward if you have any questions about hernia surgery.

When you’re living with a bowel problem, you need to pay extra attention to what you eat and drink. One question people often have is whether you can drink alcohol when you have bowel problems.

Here, we’ll look at the effects alcohol can have when you have a bowel problem.

What impact can drinking have on the bowels?

Drinking alcohol impacts the bowels in several ways. Firstly, it dehydrates the body. This can lead to issues with constipation. You’ll especially find this to be the case with higher percentage alcohol. Drinks over 15%, can also slow down the gut’s muscle movements. To prevent dehydration, make sure you drink water as well as alcoholic drinks throughout the evening.

Alternatively, you may also experience diarrhoea from drinking. This tends to occur when you drink excessively. It is a common problem for chronic drinkers, and it tends to occur due to a couple of reasons. A large amount of alcohol can cause the intestines to start releasing more water in an attempt to flush out the toxins. It also causes the muscles within the large intestines to contract more.

These are just a couple of ways alcohol can impact your bowels. Unfortunately, if you already suffer from bowel problems, the impact of alcohol can make them worse.

How does alcohol impact those with IBD?

Alcohol can cause a flare up of symptoms for those suffering with an IBD, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. These include:

  • Stomach pain and cramping
  • Blood in your stool
  • Diarrhoea

Your immune system will be weaker due to alcohol consumption. It also causes inflammation within the body, as well as damage the gut’s protective barrier. Many people with IBD feel their symptoms worsen after they drink alcohol.

An increased risk of bowel cancer

There have been a lot of studies carried out in recent years which have shown alcohol can increase your risk of certain types of cancer. Bowel cancer is one of them, with some research suggesting each alcoholic drink you have increases your risk.

Those who drink a couple of glasses of wine or beer a day, are known to have an increased risk of bowel cancer than those who drink occasionally. Just one drink a day can increase your risk.

Should you avoid alcohol altogether?

If you do have a bowel problem, it may be suggested that you avoid alcohol completely. While this may be difficult at first, cutting out alcohol can do wonders for your health. It will help to control and manage the symptoms of IBD. You’ll also decrease your risk of bowel cancer.

To determine whether alcohol is making your bowel problems worse, stop drinking and see how you feel. Do your symptoms clear up? If so, your condition was likely triggered by the amount of alcohol you were consuming.

If you are concerned about your symptoms, or would like to find out treatment options for IBD, book a consultation with Mr Woodward. He will be able to assess your situation and reveal whether or not surgery would be a good option.

While bowel cancer cases have fallen dramatically in older patients, there is an increase in cases among younger people. According to Bowel Cancer UK, over 2,500 people diagnosed with the condition each year are under 50 years old.

Like any form of cancer, fast diagnosis and treatment is crucial to combat the disease. New research has revealed that a FIT test could help to diagnose bowel cancer in young people. Here, we’ll look at what the research found, and what is driving the rise in cases in younger patients.

Understanding the new study

The new study looked at whether FIT (Faecal Immunochemical Test), could be used to detect cancer in younger patients. The test currently looks out for hidden blood within the stools. But by increasing the sensitivity of the test, researchers believe it could help diagnose bowel cancer earlier in young people.

The test has already been trialled in Nottingham and Leicester. Those who received an abnormal test result, were investigated through urgent referrals. Approximately 60% of those tested didn’t require any further testing. This has helped to reduce delays in bowel cancer diagnosis.

Why are cases rising in young adults?

Cases of bowel cancer in younger patients are rising considerably. However, experts are currently unsure what causes the early onset of the disease.

In September 2020, over 400 experts including scientists and patient advocates, came together to discuss the issue. They determined that identifying the causes and risk factors of the disease in younger people was paramount.

In contrast, cases of bowel cancer in older adults have fallen drastically in recent years. This is being credited to regular testing. Younger patients aren’t typically tested for bowel cancer. And when they do present with symptoms, they are often dismissed as something else.

So, the key to combating the rise of bowel cancer in younger patients could be to increase testing. Therefore, the new FIT test could help.

Bowel cancer symptoms to watch out for

Until better testing is available, younger patients are advised to watch out for the signs and symptoms of bowel cancer. These include:

  • Blood in your stools
  • Fatigue
  • Persistent and unexplained changes in bowel movements
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • A lump, or pain within the stomach

If you have any of the symptoms above, you should have them checked out. For instance, they can point to other potentially less serious conditions. Blood in your stools may be linked to haemorrhoids. But if you feel you have been diagnosed incorrectly, don’t be afraid to get a second opinion.

To sum up, cases of bowel cancer are rising in young people, so it is important to get medical advice if you are concerned about symptoms. If you do suffer with haemorrhoids, there are many treatment options available. Book a consultation at the Alan Woodward Surgical Group to find out more.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has released new guidelines on the detection of Colorectal cancer. Currently, unlike the UK, the age patients start colorectal cancer screening is 50 in the States. However, the new guidelines advise lowering the age limit to 45.

Like any serious illness, the earlier it is detected, the better the chances are of beating Colorectal cancer. However, it isn’t the only condition that you need to watch out for.

Colorectal disease relates to several potentially serious conditions. Here, we’ll look at why early screening is important when Colorectal disease is suspected, alongside the current treatment options available.

What is Colorectal disease?

Colorectal diseases affect the large intestine. They include a vast range of conditions including:

  • Chronic constipation or diarrhoea
  • Haemorrhoids
  • Colon Polyps
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Colon cancer

These are just a small number of Colorectal diseases and conditions you can develop. While some are certainly more serious than others, early detection is important for all Colorectal diseases. In Colon cancer cases, early detection could make the difference between life and death.

The earlier Colon cancer is detected, the sooner treatment can start. Catching any form of cancer early greatly improves prognosis. The question is, what symptoms should you be looking out for?

Symptoms to watch out for

If you want to detect Colon cancer early, there are a few notable symptoms to keep a lookout for.

Bleeding from the bottom is one of the most common signs of colon cancer. However, it can also link to other, less serious conditions. If the blood is dark red or black, it means it has come from the stomach or bowels. If it is a lighter red, it typically indicates piles or haemorrhoids. Any sign of bleeding from the bottom should be investigated, if only to rule out Colon cancer.

If you experience any change within your bowel habits which last longer than 3 weeks, it could also be a sign of cancer. You may experience chronic diarrhoea or constipation. If a change in toilet habits is also accompanied by blood in the stools, you should seek a diagnosis from the doctor.

Other symptoms to watch out for include feeling constantly tired, unexplained weight loss, and the development of a painful hard lump.

Diagnosis and treatment options

To diagnose a Colorectal condition, surgeons at the Alan Woodward Surgical Group will use a range of tests. A colonoscopy is one of the most effective ways to diagnose a condition. It uses a small camera to investigate the rectum and colon internally. Alternatively, a CT Colonography may be carried out instead.

If Colorectal disease is detected, several treatment options may be offered. An Endoscopic Mucosal Resection or bowel resection are the most common treatments available. These help to remove cancerous tissue, alongside any diseased parts of the bowel and colon.

If you suspect you may have Colorectal disease, it is important to seek early diagnosis. Book an appointment at the Alan Woodward Surgical Group to help put your mind at ease by calling 03000 204 734.

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