#BehindTheScope Interview with Gastroenterologist, Dr Benjamin Yip

alpha digestive and liver centre

Gastroenterologists are medical doctors who are specialised in conditions that affect the digestive system. This includes the gastrointestinal tract (oesophagus, stomach and intestines) and the biliary tract (liver, bile ducts, pancreas and gallbladder). In this #BehindTheScope interview, we get insights from Dr Benjamin Yip, who tells us more about his profession and passion.

1. Why did you decide to become a doctor?

My parents are both doctors, and they have both inspired me in their own ways. 

Also, for males doing Medicine in Singapore, it was something different - being able to experience NS and pursue our studies - which seemed like a good proposition then!

2. Why did you choose your specialty?

I have been interested in digestive medicine since Medical School, so for me, my mind was already set on becoming either a Digestive Surgeon or Gastroenterologist. I did a posting in General Surgery as a Medical Officer and, in experiencing both, I realised I preferred Gastroenterology!

3. What do you look forward to everyday before heading out to your clinic?

I look forward to solving each and every digestive problem for my patients. I especially love it if I am able to solve their problems with endoscopy, which is one of my greatest passions within the realm of Gastroenterology. 

4. What is one common misconception the general public has about your specialty? What’s one thing you wish the public would realise about it?

Many people think Gastroenterologists also do surgeries for their patients. In actual fact, we are physicians, so we don’t do surgeries. The digestive surgeries are done by Upper Gastrointestinal, Hepato-pancreato-biliary and Colorectal Surgeons. So, Gastroenterologists work very closely with these 3 groups of surgeons. 

I wish the public would realise the importance of screening for certain digestive cancers like colorectal, liver and stomach. They can present/rear their ugly head in late stages, so it is really important to go for screening when one is of a certain age and/or has certain risk factors.  

5. Why did you decide to set up a private healthcare centre as compared to other healthcare settings?

I have worked in the public healthcare sector for close to 20 years. Eventually, I’ve come to realise that I wanted to set up something where I have free rein to focus on important aspects of patient care. 

In the public sector, there are times when you are pulled away from patient care for other duties such as education, research or administration. Even the way we manage patients may be restricted in the public sector, and this is much less the case in the private sector. 

6. What is the most memorable moment in your career?

This was when I was awarded the MOH Health Manpower Development Plan Award to pursue further training in Advanced Endoscopy — a subspecialty within Gastroenterology which I am most passionate about. I spent a year in London, UK, and had one of the most fruitful and rewarding seasons in my career.

7. What piece of healthcare advice would you give to Singaporeans?

Good health is not just about good physical health. Psychological, emotional and spiritual health is just as important and are often overlooked. Take the time to enjoy the moment, whatever the circumstances, so you won’t regret it when the time has passed. 

8. What do you like to do when you aren’t working?

I like to run and do HIIT to de-stress and keep fit. I also like to read up on the latest car models and go for test drives when my schedule allows for it. Lastly, I love travelling, and I am so glad the borders are now open — hopefully, COVID-19 will soon be but a memory!


About Dr Benjamin Yip

Dr Benjamin Yip is the Medical Director & Consultant Gastroenterologist at Alpha Digestive & Liver Centre. He has been a practitioner in the field for almost 20 years, and his expertise lies in advanced endoscopy, where he performs complex endoscopic procedures, such as ERCP, EUS, deep enteroscopy Spyglass cholangioscopy and enteral dilation/stenting. 

The Complete Guide to Sinusitis Treatment in Singapore (2023)

What is sinusitis?

Sinusitis is a condition that occurs when the sinuses become inflamed and swollen. The sinuses are the cavities around your nasal passages. Inflammation to this area thus blocks drainage and causes mucus build-up in your nose.

The condition is quite common, with around 90% of adults getting the condition at least once. In Singapore, this is even more so due to the climate. The symptoms can range from mild to severe, with some cases clearing within a few days or weeks without intervention, while some other cases may last longer, requiring antibiotics and even surgery.

What are the symptoms of sinusitis?

The symptoms of sinusitis include:

Some patients also experience aching pain around the jaw and teeth, ear pain, headache, sore throat, fever, nausea, and fatigue.

What are the types and causes of sinusitis?

There are 2 types of sinusitis:

·  Acute sinusitis

·  Chronic sinusitis

The differences between these 2 types will be discussed in the next section.

There are also a few different causes, including:

What are the differences between acute sinusitis and chronic sinusitis?

The main difference between the two is the persistence of the symptoms.

Acute sinusitis is also known as acute rhinosinusitis. This condition happens when the symptoms last up to 12 weeks. As the name suggests, sinusitis develops suddenly, often along with a common cold.

Symptoms include runny and stuffy nose and facial pain that persists for 10 days or more. This kind of sinusitis often responds well to home remedies, antibiotics, decongestants, and other oral medications. A sub-type, known as recurrent acute sinusitis, refers to the condition where sinusitis symptoms come back 4 or more times in a year, with each one lasting less than 2 weeks.

On the other hand, sinusitis is classified as chronic sinusitis if the symptoms last more than 12 weeks, even with medical interventions. Note that chronic sinusitis may happen as a complication of acute sinusitis.

Also, symptoms of chronic and acute sinusitis are similar, but fever is not typically experienced by chronic sinusitis patients. For chronic sinusitis cases, oral medicines may not be able to successfully treat the condition and surgical intervention may be necessary. More details on the treatment options will be discussed in the following sections.

What complications can arise from untreated sinusitis?

Very rarely, in some cases, untreated sinusitis may cause complications such as:

Is sinusitis contagious?

This depends on the cause of the sinusitis. Bacterial and fungal sinusitis are not contagious, but viral sinusitis are! The virus may spread through:

When should I go to a doctor for sinusitis?

You should visit a doctor if:

For your visit, take note of:

Do visit the doctor immediately if you experience:

These symptoms are signs of a serious infection, and you should get it checked immediately! Your ENT specialist can run a thorough diagnosis and create a personalised treatment plan.

How is sinusitis diagnosed?

Sinusitis, especially for chronic cases, is diagnosed through a nasoendoscopic examination. This involves using a small camera that is attached to a tube that will be inserted into the nose to visually inspect the sinuses. This is a really quick procedure that can take less than 3 minutes. The procedure may be uncomfortable but is completely painless for the most part.

If an anatomical abnormality is suspected to be the cause of your condition, a CT scan might also be taken to see the severity and complexity of your condition. This is usually only for chronic or recurring cases.

On top of that, a sample of your nasal discharge may also be taken and examined to determine the exact cause of your condition. This is critical in determining the type of treatment that will be suitable for your case.

Also, if your sinusitis is suspected to have developed following an allergic reaction, your doctor may also recommend an allergy skin test. It is a very quick, painless procedure that can help pinpoint the allergen causing your inflammation and, with that, help you prevent subsequent flare-ups.

What are the treatment options for sinusitis?

For cases of acute sinusitis, the symptoms tend to clear by themselves within a few days. Some treatments that may help you manage the symptoms include:

That said, if the symptoms persist, do get a prescription from a doctor. Depending on the cause of your sinusitis, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics or antifungal medications to help clear the condition. If you do get antibiotics, remember to take the whole course prescribed to you, even if the symptoms have cleared out. This is to prevent recurrent sinusitis that may be harder to treat.

If allergies are the main cause of your sinusitis, your doctor may also use immunotherapy, also known as “Allergy Shots”. This helps reduce your body’s reaction to specific allergens thus helping you manage the inflammation and other symptoms.

Surgical treatment for sinusitis

If oral medications are unable to treat the condition, a surgery called functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS) may be necessary. First, your doctor will use a thin, flexible tube (endoscope) to explore the sinus passages. Then depending on your condition, your doctor will remove or shave away tissues that are causing the nasal blockage. Another method is to enlarge a narrow sinus opening.

Home remedies to alleviate sinusitis symptoms

Above medications and treatments, there are a few lifestyle changes that will help you manage the symptoms of sinusitis. This includes:

Can sinusitis be prevented?

Yes! Steps to prevent developing sinusitis include:

Conclusion

If you are currently experiencing some of the symptoms mentioned in this article, do visit a doctor to get your condition checked. Sinusitis is definitely treatable, especially if treated promptly. Also, take note of the tips mentioned to help relieve the symptoms! Now after reading this, just take a deep breath, have some rest, and relax.


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Chumar, Alvin. “What Is Sinusitis?” HealthXchange.sg, https://www.healthxchange.sg/head-neck/ear-nose-throat/what-sinusitis. Accessed 28 December 2022.

Mok, Paul. “Sinus Singapore | Sinusitis Singapore.” My ENT Specialist, https://www.myentspecialist.sg/sinus-problems.php. Accessed 28 December 2022.

“Sinus Infection (Sinusitis): Types, Causes, Symptoms & Treatment.” Cleveland Clinic, 4 June 2020, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17701-sinusitis. Accessed 28 December 2022.

“Sinusitis – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment.” Gleneagles Hospital, https://www.gleneagles.com.sg/specialties/medical-specialties/ear-nose-throat/sinusitis. Accessed 28 December 2022.