Belching, hiccuping and related issues are common complaints among patients. Dr. David Johnson of Eastern Virginia Medical School explains the distinction between normal and abnormal belching, and discusses the behavioral component of what's known as supragastric belching -- meaning it isn't serving an important physiological function. Yet, belching and the related condition of air swallowing aren't easily treated. Interventions could include drugs or speech therapy. Hiccups, meanwhile, are associated with a spasm of the intercostal muscles and diaphragm. Hiccups are common, but a persistent issue can signal a serious health problem and should be evaluated by an expert.
Kenan Varin hopes yet another risky surgery will finally cure his Hirschsprung disease, an anomaly in the large intestine that requires the 8-year-old to use a colostomy bag for bowel movements. The Haitian boy has been in New York awaiting surgery after several previous operations left him with complications and didn't fix the problem.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease is common and can be diagnosed based on symptoms and response to treatments, such as dietary/lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications. However, patients with alarm symptoms such as painful or difficult swallowing, unexplained weight loss, chest pain, vomited blood or dark-colored stools may need to undergo an endoscopy or other tests to rule out more serious conditions.
Hepatitis C is the most common blood-borne viral infection and can linger for decades without showing symptoms, so people often are not diagnosed until liver damage already has occurred. Most U.S. cases come from sharing drug needles, but hepatitis C also can be transmitted through blood transfusions.
AHIP President Karen Ignagni also discussed the proposal in a Newsmaker session with USA TODAY. "This is a major step, and it changes everything about how the market works," she said. Read a live blog of the session.