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Call: 985-601-2662

Hours: Mon-Fri 8am-5pm

1023 Wood Street, Houma, LA, 70360

Ask Dr. Winstead

Dr. Winstead Awarded Fellowship by the American College of Gastroenterolgy

Houma, La – Houma Digestive Health Specialists is pleases to announce that Dr. Teddy Winstead., was awarded fellowship in the American College of Gastroenterology.

Dr. Winstead is currently the only digestive specialist in the Houma and Thibodeaux region to have received this honor.

The fellowship is bestowed on an individual with a significant professional achievement and superior competence within the field of gastroenterology, pediatric gastroenterology, gastrointestinal surgery, gastrointestinal radiology or gastrointestinal pathology.

“The American College of Gastroenterology is a preeminent, national medical association of gastroenterologists, “said Dr. Winstead. “I am honored to accept this distinction in the gastroenterology community.”

Dr. Winstead is the primary physician at Houma Digestive Health Specialists, a nationally recognized clinic devoted to providing cutting-edge gastrointestinal healthcare and endoscopy in the Houma and surrounding regions.

To make an appointment with Dr. Winstead, contact 985-601-2662 or visit the clinic located at 1026 School Street in Houma.

New findings on gluten sensitivity

A really interesting new study is out, which suggests that non-celiac gluten hypersensitivity may not be a real disease. The attached link isn’t the scientific paper, but it’s a great, well-written and concise summary of the research and the problems. They conclude (like me) that the jury is still out and this is clearly something that needs more looking into.

If you think you have a gluten problem, see a doctor. Gluten-free diets are very expensive and difficult to follow. Many foods being marketed as gluten-free aren’t REALLY gluten-free (ie – there’s no certification or rules). Be careful out there, folks!

Accutane (isotretinoin) and risk for developing IBD (Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis)

There was a big media splash a few years ago when some research showed a possible link between isotretinoin and Ulcerative Colitis. I can recall seeing pieces in the national popular media about it. Since then, however, there has been additional data published casting doubts on some of the findings of the first study.

The most interesting one I’ve come across was just published here. I thought it was interesting because of two things – it did NOT show an increased risk of Ulcerative Colitis in patients taking isotretinoin, and it showed a DECREASED risk of Crohn’s disease in patients taking isotretinoin.

So does Accutane (isotretinoin) – a commonly prescribed acne drug – cause Crohn’s or UC? I think the jury is still out – the published data are conflicting.

If you have Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis, come see us. We have a variety of new treatment options you may not be aware of and we’re the only GI practice in the Bayou region with clinical research protocols of new and existing drugs for Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis. Our number is 985-601-2662.

“Dramatic decline” in colon cancer rates due to increased screening

March is colorectal cancer awareness month, so there have been several publications in the medical and lay press about colorectal cancer rates, treatments, and screenings.

One of the most interesting came out last week. The study published in the journal CA:A Cancer Journal for Clinicians (you can read it here) highlights the fact that colon cancer has gone from the leading cause of cancer deaths in the 1950’s to the second (nearing third) cause of cancer deaths in 2014. This large decline is due to increased screening and more effective screening.

When you’re ready to schedule your colonoscopy, please give us a call, our number is 985-601-2662.

March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month (PS bowel preps aren’t all 100% nasty)

Colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in the United States, and colon cancer rates in Louisiana are particularly high. Check out this map from the Centers for Disease Control:


We also have among the highest rates of colon cancer (and colon cancer deaths) in the USA. Fortunately, colon cancer (and deaths) are preventable through screening and early detection. I picked this graph from the British Medical Journal:


Because it shows trends nicely.

If you’re over 50, you need a screening colonoscopy. Some groups also recommend that African-Americans start screening at age 45. If you have a family history of colon cancer you may need to start screening earlier.

There are LOTS of ways to screen for colon cancer, colonoscopy is just one of them and most patients prefer colonoscopy once we discuss all the options. Most importantly, though, we have new and better and easier to take bowel preps! You probably won’t need to drink that dreaded gallon jug of nastiness! Make an appointment, we’ll talk you through the options.

Our phone number is 985-601-2662.

Let’s talk about fecal incontinence

Perhaps the most devastating problem I routinely care for is fecal incontinence. It mostly affects women, mostly post-menopausal, and they are usually left devastated, home-bound, unable to do anything they usually enjoy – go shopping, walking, visit their families – due to the unpredictable nature of their symptoms.

The tragedy of incontinence is usually compounded by the fact that patients don’t feel comfortable discussing their symptoms with their doctors (particularly male doctors, since patients are usually female).

Why does this happen? Let’s take a look at the anatomy of the human pelvis –




You can click on the image to make it larger. Notice that at the very bottom of the pelvic floor is a thin layer of muscle called the levator ani. This muscle plays a large role in maintaining urinary and fecal continence. When women go through menopause, they stop making hormones, testosterone among them. This loss of testosterone results in a decrease of muscle mass throughout the body. The levator ani is a small, thin muscle to begin with and is frequently damaged from childbirth or pelvic surgeries. When menopause occurs, this damaged muscle wastes away just enough to maintain continence and fecal and urinary incontinence frequently result.

So what can be done?

Fortunately, many things – but it’s often a process of trial-and-error to find the right thing or combination of things.

I frequently use a combination of bulking agents (fiber) and anti-diarrheal agents (at low doses) with good results. Pelvic floor physical therapy is another valuable treatment modality and is available in the Bayou region and elsewhere. Lastly, there is a new procedure available that’s done as an outpatient, in the office.

If you’re suffering from fecal incontinence, speak up! There’s no need to continue to be miserable and homebound. Talk to your doctor.

You can call us to book an appointment do discuss fecal incontinence or any other gastrointestinal problem at 985-601-2662.

Same-day appointments are (almost) always available.

Do you have a gluten problem?

Celiac disease is a condition that is most easily described as an allergy to a protein called gluten. When people with celiac disease ingest gluten, it causes cellular damage to the cells which line the small intestine and results in inability to absorb vitamins and minerals and nutrients. This can result in typical symptoms of celiac disease: anemia, gas, bloating, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. How common is celiac disease? A little bit less than 1% of the general population in the USA have it.

While gluten is usually associated with wheat, a number of other grains like barley and alfalfa also contain gluten and structurally similar proteins which can also cause cellular damage in individuals with celiac disease. Other grains, like oatmeal, are often processed in facilities which also produce gluten-containing grains. Because of this cross-contamination, we usually advise individuals with celiac disease to avoid oats as well as other grains, even though oats themselves do not contain gluten.

We once thought that all patients with celiac disease experienced primarily diarrhea, anemia, and weight loss as symptoms of celiac disease, but we are now recognizing that patients with the disease can experience weight gain, constipation, abdominal pain, skin rashes and a number of other symptoms.

We are also increasingly realizing that a number of patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome may have a sensitivity to gluten in their diets and that eliminating gluten from their diets may improve their symptoms significantly. Eliminating gluten may improve abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, cramps, and constipation in these individuals. This science is still evolving and there still remains considerable controversy. For the record, I believe this is a real problem – I’ve seen many patient whose IBS is much better when they start a gluten-free diet.

A lot of the gluten fad that’s been going on lately has been fueled by the book “Wheat Belly” by Dr. William Davis. I would not recommend this book – it’s full of hype and hyperbole and junk science, much of which has been discredited. Chief among these, is the implicit accusation that gluten levels in wheat have increased over the past decades, which is patently false. The other humorous accusation is that gluten is now somehow “different”. This is also snake oil. Gluten is a molecule, just like water. Neither will ever change in formulation (unlike Coca Cola).

In short, Dr. Davis is interested in selling books, not improving patient health.

If you’re a woman of Northern European descent with any of the symptoms described, you probably should get tested. If you’ve been told that you have IBS and you’ve never been tested, you probably should be tested.

What’s important to understand, however, is that testing should be done while eating a diet which contains gluten. If you’re not on a gluten containing diet, you should probably start back on gluten prior to testing, but always consult with your doctor.

Frequently, biopsies of the small intestine are required for diagnosis.

Treatment is a gluten free diet for life. This can be difficult to follow.

If you’re concerned that you have a gluten problem, gluten sensitive IBS, celiac disease, or any other GI issue, call our office for an appointment – 985-601-2662.