Living With IBS: 5 Ways to Manage Your Symptoms

Approximately 10 to 15% of people suffer from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). That equates to about 70,000–100,000 people in the Nashville area alone. According to the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders, many patients with this disorder suffer for more than six years before their condition is diagnosed.

As anyone with IBS can attest, the abdominal pain and symptoms can be unpredictable and completely disruptive to daily life. If you suffer from IBS, please know that gastroenterology providers at St. Thomas Medical Group in Nashville are here to come alongside you and work with you to develop a comprehensive management plan that supports your overall health and wellbeing.

For those who are new to IBS and would like to know more about managing symptoms, view some of the following recommendations from our gastroenterologists at St. Thomas Medical Group…

5 Ways to Manage IBS Symptoms

While there is no cure or guaranteed “fix” for IBS, many patients find symptoms improve through the use of some of these strategies…

  1. Identify and eliminate trigger foods. Many patients find that their IBS symptoms flare up when certain trigger foods are introduced into their diet. At St. Thomas Medical Group, your gastroenterologist will work with you to identify those trigger foods so that you can eliminate them from your diet. Common triggers include caffeine, alcohol, carbonated beverages, and raw fruit.
  2. Exercise routinely. Exercise has a number of health benefits, including the ability to help regulate stress, promote contractions in the intestines, and improve overall mood.
  3. Slowly increase fiber. Individuals with IBS who suffer from constipation may find their symptoms improve with a moderate increase of fiber. However, too much fiber can cause gas and cramping, so increase fiber intake slowly.
  4. Eat regularly. Regular meals at routine intervals can help reduce IBS symptoms. If constipated, eating larger fiber-based meals may improve regularity. For those experiencing diarrhea, eating smaller meals more frequently may help manage IBS symptoms.
  5. Develop good eating habits. It’s not just when and what you eat that matters. How you eat can also affect IBS. Drinking through a straw, for example, can cause you to swallow air, which may worsen IBS. Eating food on-the-go, overeating, chewing gum, and eating quickly can also worsen symptoms. Instead, eat slowly, regularly, and mindfully.

Gastroenterology in Nashville, TN | Schedule Now

Struggling with IBS or other issues of the digestive system? Find a gastroenterologist at St. Thomas Medical Group. Don’t delay in getting the care you need. Call +1 (615) 297-2700 or schedule your appointment online.

What Is the Keto Diet? Should I Try Keto?

So long, Atkins, there’s a new diet in town. And if it looks a little familiar, well… it is.

  1. Low in carbs.
  2. High in fat.
  3. Promotes weight loss.

The ketogenic diet (“keto” for short) has captured the country’s attention, and Nashville is no exception. Check out the following graph, which shows Google search interest in Nashville in keto (blue) compared to Atkins (red) since November 2016.

No doubt, you’ve heard of keto. But what exactly is it? And should you try it? Today on the St. Thomas Medical Group Blog, we’re going to take a closer look at that question. As always, please remember that this blog does not constitute medical or diet advice and is not a substitute for the specific recommendations provided by your doctor. As always, do not begin a new diet without first discussing risks and benefits with your physician.

About the Keto Diet

The ketogenic diet emphasizes a high fat and low carbohydrate intake. The standard ketogenic diet, for example, typically follows these proportions:

  • 75% fat
  • 20% protein
  • 5% carbs

A popular and well-researched variant is the high-protein ketogenic diet, which looks something like this:

  • 60% fat
  • 35% protein
  • 5% carbs

Other variations exist, yet they lack the the same degree of evidence-based research that these two diets have supporting them.

So, what’s the science behind the keto diet? In a typical diet, people consume carbohydrates for energy. These foods include bread, pasta, some fruits (like bananas), and starchy vegetables. The keto diet drastically limits carbohydrate intake, prioritizing fats instead. This puts the body in a state of ketosis, forcing it to burn fat for energy instead of carbohydrates. Additionally, fats turn into ketones in the liver, and ketones then supply energy to the brain.

Many people experience weight loss with the keto diet without having to count calories and limit portions to the same degree required by other diets. This is due, in part, to the fact that foods in the keto diet are often quite filling and satisfying. Of course, this is also one of the reasons why this diet has grown quickly in popularity!

Should I Try the Keto Diet?

If you’re interested in the keto diet, talk to your doctor at St. Thomas Medical Group to learn more about how diet and lifestyle changes can best serve your health goals. The keto diet can be a drastic change for many people, and patients are not advised to begin this diet without first discussing it with their healthcare provider. With that being said, some studies have shown that the keto diet may be effective in improving the following conditions:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy
  • Heart disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • …and others

Generally speaking, the keto diet is not recommended for high-performance athletes or those wishing to gain significant weight or muscle mass. Also, it’s worth stating that the keto diet, like many diets, does require a serious long-term commitment in order for results to be seen.

Keto Diet Questions? Talk to a Doctor at St. Thomas Medical Group.

Have more questions about the keto diet and whether it’s right for you? Schedule an appointment with a physician at St. Thomas Medical Group Department of Children and Adults, conveniently located at the intersection of Green Hills, Sylvan Park and Belle Meade. Meet our providers online, or call +1 (615) 297-2700 to schedule.

How to Make the Most of Your Doctor’s Appointment

Let’s be honest… few people relish in taking a trip to the doctor. It’s okay, we don’t take it personally. But since you’re coming… why not make the most of it? Whether you’re coming in for your first wellness exam in a few years or returning for a follow-up appointment just a week since your last visit, these tips will help you make the most of your visit. After all, your time is valuable, and you deserve the best care you can get. Plus, who knows… your next visit to the doctor’s office might be just a little bit more enjoyable if you maximize your time by using these recommendations from St. Thomas Medical Group doctors!

  • Prepare questions in advance. Do you ever sit in the waiting room with that burning question about your health… and then as soon as you get in the examination room it just slips your mind? Happens all the time! Make your appointment the most effective it can be by writing down your questions in advance. Use a sheet of paper, a notes app on your phone, or whatever it takes. Numerous studies have found that patients who prepare and take an active participation role in their healthcare are more satisfied, less anxious, and enjoy a higher quality of life.
  • Bring something to write on. Of course, asking the question doesn’t guarantee you’ll remember the answer, so be sure to bring something to write on. Again, your phone or a pad of paper can work. The best tool is the one that’s easiest for you to use.
  • Bring a friend or family member. Having a friend or family member with you is another great way to absorb the information your doctor shares during your appointment. Sometimes we hear information about our own health through our own subjective lens. A third-party might bring clearer perspective to the information received.
  • Be open about symptoms. As doctors, we’ve heard it all. There’s never any reason to be embarrassed about symptoms. If it hurts, tell us. If it seems kind of weird, tell us. If you’re just not sure… tell us! By sharing the whole picture, you provide us with a better opportunity to more fully serve you.
  • Have a list of medications. Speaking of total picture, we need to know what medications you’re currently using. Be sure to bring this full list with you to your next appointment at St. Thomas Medical Group!

Schedule With a Doctor in Nashville Today

Need a local doctor who will listen to you and advocate for your health and well-being? Find a Nashville doctor in one of the following specialties at St. Thomas Medical Group:

  • Audiologists
  • Aviation Medical Examiner
  • Children and Adult
  • ENT and Allergy
  • Gastroenterology
  • Internal Medicine
  • Pulmonary
  • Rheumatology

To schedule an appointment, call +1 (615) 297-2700 or schedule online.

The Opioid Crisis in Tennessee: Safety Guidelines & Resources

The opioid crisis has reached a point that is impossible to ignore. Opioid abuse has skyrocketed in Tennessee, destroying lives and posing a serious health threat to communities in Nashville and surrounding areas. In October 2017, the White House declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency.

Fast Facts About Opioid Abuse In Tennessee

While numbers can never tell the full story, these statistics shine an unforgiving light on the tragedy that has begun to unfold in Tennessee over the last decade…

  • Tennessee had the 2nd highest prescription rate for opioids in 2016 (source).
  • That same year, there were 1,186 opioid-related overdose deaths in Tennessee – 18.1 deaths per 100,000 persons. For comparison, the national rate for 2016 was 13.3 deaths per 100,000 persons (source).
  • Deaths from heroin overdose in Tennessee have increased since 2010 from 17 to 260 (source).

Our Commitment at St. Thomas Medical Group

Doctors at St. Thomas Medical Group are committed to safe opioid prescription practices. This includes:

  • Showing preference to nonpharmacologic therapy and non-opioid pharmacologic therapy prior to prescribing opioids.
  • Establishing clear treatment goals prior to prescribing opioids. Prescriptions should only continue if the improvements in pain and function outweigh the risks to the patient’s safety.
  • Clearly discussing with patients the risks and benefits of opioid therapy v. non-opioid therapy.

Learn more about safe guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain with this resource from the CDC.

Get Help for Opioid Abuse

If you or someone you know struggles with opioid abuse, help is available. At least three Tennesseans die each day from an opioid-related overdose, reports the Tennessee Hospital Association. Even more visit their local hospital emergency room for care. If you need help, call the Tennessee REDLINE at +1 (800) 889-9789. This resource operates “a 24/7 addiction treatment and recovery hotline that connects Tennessee residents with state funded, addiction treatment and recovery services.”

If you need help, we also encourage you to talk to your Nashville doctor at St. Thomas Medical Group to find out what resources may be available to you. If nothing else, remember the following (via Tennessee Department of Health):

  • Opioids are highly addictive.
  • Abuse, addiction and overdose can happen to anyone.
  • There are pain management alternatives.
  • Just because a doctor prescribed you opioids, it does not mean that they are 100% safe.
  • Opioids are not ideal for long-term pain relief.
  • Never take prescription drugs that were not prescribed for you by a doctor.

Additional Department of Health resources available here.

Need Help? Find a Nashville Doctor at St. Thomas Medical Group.
For additional help, call St. Thomas Medical Group at +1 (615) 297-2700
or schedule your appointment online.

What’s Your Heart Health IQ?

Nelson Mandela once said, “A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.” Today, let’s test your head knowledge about your heart! Take the knowledge you learn in this post and apply it to better heart health for the rest of the year to come…

#1 – Fast Facts About Tennessee Heart Health

Heart disease is a national health problem, and Tennessee is no exception. According to the Tennessee Department of Health:

  • “Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Tennessee, accounting for approximately 27% of deaths…”
  • “Stroke is the third leading cause of death…”
  • “Together, heart disease and stroke account for 1 out of 3 deaths in Tennessee each year.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that Tennessee had the sixth highest heart disease death rate among all states in 2017. The good news is, many cases of heart disease can be prevented. It starts by knowing your risk factors.

#2 – Heart Disease Risk Factors

While some risk factors may be hereditary, others are within your control. Let’s look at a few heart disease risk factors that your doctor at St. Thomas Medical Group may help you manage:

  • Hypertension: High blood pressure can increase risk for heart disease and stroke by putting excessive pressure on the walls of the arteries. High blood pressure may be managed through diet and exercise. Medication may also be an option.
  • Smoking: Once inhaled, the chemicals in cigarette smoke can cause clots to form in the blood, increasing the risk for heart attack and stroke.
  • High LDL Cholesterol: High cholesterol can cause fatty deposits to build up in the arteries, blocking healthy blood flow. Reducing saturated fats, eliminating trans fats, and increasing fiber intake can help lower LDL cholesterol.
  • Diabetes: Excess sugar in the bloodstream can damage blood vessels and nerves. By preventing or managing diabetes, you may be able to lower your risk for heart disease.

#3 – Action Items: Own Your Heart Health!

What can you do to improve your overall heart health?

  • Stay active. Get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week – that’s 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
  • Quit smoking. If you smoke, talk to your Nashville doctor at St. Thomas Medical Group about quitting.
  • Lose weight. One recent study found that overweight or obese adults between the ages of 40 and 59 were at a 21 to 85 percent higher risk for developing heart disease than adults of the same age in a normal weight range.
  • Eat healthy. Sodium, trans fats, saturated fats, and sugar all increase risk for heart disease. Cut these unhealthy ingredients and replace them with whole foods, such as heart healthy fruits, vegetables, and grains.
  • See your doctor. Your doctor can make specific recommendations based on your personal health history. Your doctor would be thrilled to hear you say, “I want to make changes to reduce my risk for heart disease. Where do I start?” In many cases, patients are reactive to new developments in their health. Be proactive and start making positive heart health changes today – before any warning signs appear.

Find a Doctor Near You In Nashville

Need a doctor who will partner with you in your health? Find a provider at St. Thomas Medical Group by calling +1 (615) 297-2700. Both new and returning patients can also schedule online.

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When Should Babies Start to…

Whether you’re a new parent or raising your third or fourth child, every little milestone in your baby’s life can be exciting… especially that first “sleep through the night” milestone! While infants reach these big milestones on their own time, this post may help set some expectations for when you might experience some breakthroughs…


Surprise… your baby was most likely smiling before you even met her! Of course, in utero smiles probably aren’t what you’re asking about. Baby’s first “real” smile may show anywhere from six to twelve weeks. You may be able to tell that it’s not just a reflex by looking for emotion in the eyes. And laughing? Expect those full-blown belly laughs somewhere around five months.

Eye Contact

Eye contact may occur as early as six to eight weeks of age. However, some babies may not make definitive eye contact until three months of age.

Roll Over

Rolling over may happen as early as three months, but it’s more common to take place somewhere around the four to six-month mark. Of course, infants have a way of rolling over for the first time when you’re not totally prepared! That being the case, never leave your baby unattended on a changing table or other elevated surface where he could roll over and fall.

Sleep Through the Night

Mark this milestone as the most exciting one that you won’t even notice until it’s over! Many babies will sleep six to eight hours uninterrupted after about four months of age. (But just because they do it once doesn’t mean it’s the new status quo!) By about six months of age, baby may even make it to ten blissful uninterrupted hours of sleep!


Around six months of age, babbling may turn into actual words. (Though meaning may not be associated with those words until around 12 months.) At approximately 18-24 months, very short, simple sentences may appear.


If you haven’t done so already, it’s officially time to baby-proof the home at about six months of age. Crawling often occurs between seven and 10 months. Lots of tummy time and play may encourage crawling in your baby!


Once your baby begins to pull himself up, walking is just around the corner. Babies often begin to pull themselves up to a standing position around nine to 10 months, and are walking around 12-15 months.

See a Pediatrician in Nashville at St. Thomas Medical Group

Again, it’s worth repeating that these milestones are general in nature. If your baby hasn’t reached a milestone during the age range described here, don’t panic. Talk to your child’s pediatrician if you have any concerns!

Looking for a pediatrician who can partner with you in caring for your child? St. Thomas Medical Group Department of Children and Adults is conveniently located at the intersection of Green Hills, Sylvan Park and Belle Meade. Meet our providers. Call +1 (615) 301-7040 or schedule an appointment online.

5 Ways You Can Practice Self-Love on Valentine’s Day

According to, Nashville is North America’s #1 “Most Romantic City” in 2019. Who knew? Whether or not this Valentine’s Day will bring you chocolate and roses, we recommend everyone learn to practice the invaluable skill of self-love!

What Is Self-Love?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes self-love as, “regard for one’s own well-being and happiness.” Oscar Wilde wrote, “To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance.” In short, self-love is living a life that prioritizes your own health and happiness! And what better time of the year to start living such a life than Valentine’s Day?

#1 Toss What’s Holding You Back

As we come off the start of the new year (and find ourselves in awe of Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix), it’s a great time to clean out closets and get rid of those things that don’t bring us joy. The ability to take a dress off the hanger without having to squeeze everything else to the side is a wonderful feeling! Negative space can be more life-giving than the junk that fills it!

#2 Add One Healthy Habit a Week

We all have opportunities for improving our health. And when we’re healthier, we’re happier. Are you one of the three million Americans who have acid reflux? Try one of these six habits for managing your symptoms. Do you hate exercise, but love nature? Then instead of trying to force yourself to get on the treadmill, try one of these four hikes in Nashville. In short, listen to yourself. Pay attention to how you feel. If there are areas of your physical or mental health where you think you could feel better, then do a little research and find ways to make improvements. The St. Thomas Medical Group Blog is a great place to look for ideas!

#3 Turn Off the Devices

Multiple studies have indicated an inverse relationship between happiness and social media use. And while there’s certainly a time and place for vegging out in front of the TV, watching three hours of Hulu night after night after night isn’t exactly a key to happiness. Start small with this lifestyle change. At first, take just an hour to totally unplug. Read a book. Sit in a coffeeshop. See a friend. Try a new recipe. Reflect on how the experience makes you feel, and then try something new the next day! Maybe you’ll even work your way up to a totally unplugged Sunday!

#4 Get Screened for Breast Cancer

If you are a woman age 40 or over, getting a screening mammogram may be one of the best acts of self-love you can do. Sadly, women in the United States have a one in eight lifetime risk of developing breast cancer. However, the good news is that women with stage 0 or stage I breast cancer have a 5-year relative survival rate close to 100%. Get screened so that if you need care, you can get it early on! Learn more.

#5 See Your Healthcare Provider

We all get sick from time to time. And when we do, isn’t it so much nicer to be able to see a doctor that knows you? Wouldn’t you prefer to have access to an integrated health care team that has some knowledge of your baseline health? Visiting a provider now for an annual wellness exam can be the start of a wonderful relationship – especially if you really need a doctor in the months or years that follow! Schedule your appointment online.

Practice Self-Love… And Schedule an Appointment With a Doctor In Nashville!

Find a provider at St. Thomas Medical Group by calling +1 (615) 297-2700. Both new and returning patients can also schedule online.

5 Tips for Getting Young Kids to Eat Healthier!

“Trust me, it’s good for you,” has never been a compelling enough argument to move broccoli from the fork to a toddler’s mouth. “Just try it,” doesn’t tend to yield much better results either.

At times, getting your toddler (let’s be honest, maybe even your teenager) to eat healthy feels like an uphill battle. After all, what three-year-old wants green beans when there are fruit snacks?!

At St. Thomas Medical Group, pediatricians aim to ensure toddlers and children get adequate nutrition… and for you to keep your sanity! Parents should always feel welcome to discuss diet, nutrition, and eating strategies with providers during wellness exams. Until your child’s next exam, reference these tips below from our pediatric health care team…

5 Ways to Improve Your Child’s Diet

  1. Make it fun. Presenting a plate full of veggies or unfamiliar “healthy” foods in front of a child is often a big turn-off. It’s perfectly fine to introduce new foods (you should!), and nutritious items should be a part of every meal. That being said, mealtime is not an all-or-nothing battle. Include foods your child knows and likes with every meal. Then, make the new or healthy foods that you introduce fun. Broccoli florets can come with a delicious dipping sauce, whole grain toast can be cut into small star shapes, bananas can come with peanut butter, etc.
  2. Involve your child. Children are primed to soak up new experiences. Why not give your toddler the opportunity to pick out a fruit or veggie at the grocery store? Take it home, cut it up, taste it, talk about it. Maybe they won’t like the taste of that grapefruit they selected, but they might be wowed by the brilliant ruby color and enjoy the autonomy that comes along with choosing their own special fruit. By opening up your child to the diversity of food, you’re planting seeds of curiosity, which can blossom into a willingness to explore and experiment.
  3. Be the eater you want your child to be! If you want your child to eat carrots and hummus for a snack, you can’t eat french fries and ketchup. Set an example for your child by eating nutritious foods.
  4. Get on a schedule. You are not a short order cook and the kitchen is not always open. Establish a breakfast, lunch and dinner routine with two snacks during the day. Toddlers will learn to self-regulate. If they refuse breakfast, they can catch up at lunch. While it is perfectly fine to offer options, your menu should have limited options. Finally, keep meal time under a half-hour. Don’t let meals drag out to a point that your toddler becomes fidgety and disinterested. Give the appropriate five- or ten-minute warning and then remove the remaining food, assuming your child is no longer consistently taking bites.
  5. Treats and “junk” are okay. Getting your child to eat healthier doesn’t mean you have to completely purge the pantry of sugar. When you completely forbid a food group, you risk putting that group on a pedestal and creating an increased desire for that thing! Cookies and juice are okay. As the saying goes, “All things in moderation.” Talk through why these foods are special treats and dole them out accordingly.

See a Pediatrician in Nashville Today

Find a pediatrician near you at St. Thomas Medical Group Department of Children and Adults. Please note, walk-ins are available on Saturday for established patients with acute medical concerns. (Learn more.) To schedule an appointment, call +1 (615) 301-7040 or schedule online.

Not Your Mother’s Hearing Aids… What’s New In Hearing Aid Tech

According to Miracle-Ear, one in six baby boomers (born 1946-1964) experience hearing loss. Yet only one in four of those baby boomers proactively seek help for their hearing loss.

Why do so few adults with hearing loss see their doctor about resolving this problem?

For one, the issue may be hard to acknowledge. Hearing loss can take place gradually over many years. Your ability to follow a conversation may diminish. You may begin asking others to repeat themselves more frequently. At first you don’t even think about it. Then you notice that these instances are happening increasingly often in loud environments. Perhaps you start to avoid crowded restaurants or other places where it’s difficult to hear.

There are many warning signs of hearing loss, but it may take many months or even years before people can identify those warning signs in their own selves.

Another reason why so many adults aren’t seeking out the help they need for hearing loss?

Well, let’s face it… hearing aids have a stigma for being… bulky… obvious… a sign of “old age.” The truth is, you probably talk to other people wearing hearing aids every day and don’t even realize it. And with the high decibel machines and environments we’re all exposed to on a regular basis, more people are needing hearing aids at a younger age.

The old stigma is no longer true. Today’s hearing aids aren’t your mother’s hearing aids! They’re barely noticeable – sometimes all but invisible – and high tech.

Advanced Technology, Slim Profiles

Audiologists at St. Thomas Medical Group prescribe Nashville patients with six different styles of hearing aids from brands like Phonak, Resound, Widex, Unitron, Siemens, and Starkey. Styles include:

    • Power Behind the Ear
    • Micro Behind the Ear
    • Full Shell in the Ear
    • In the Canal
    • Completely in the Canal
    • Invisible in the Canal

(See images of these styles.)

Many of these styles, such as “completely in the canal” hearing aids, are all but impossible for anyone to even detect. However, the best hearing aid isn’t necessarily the most discreet. The best hearing aid is the one that helps you boost both volume and your self-confidence!

What’s Stopping You from Exploring Your Options?

Wouldn’t you like to…

    • Enjoy following the conversation in a restaurant?
    • Listen to the television at a volume that agrees with others?
    • Hear the voices of children or grandchildren more clearly?
    • Not have to rely on closed captions?

Schedule an appointment with Nashville ENT Audiology by calling +1 (615) 292-5191. This is a risk-free appointment to learn about the absolute best technology in the hearing industry from highly educated and experienced audiologists in Nashville. What’s stopping you? Call today!