Red flags: When to see a gastrointestinal specialist
Suffering from chronic stomach pains?
Have blood in your stool?
It could be time to see a gastrointestinal specialist, also known as a gastroenterologist.
Let’s talk about what GI doctors do and when you know it’s time to call one.
What does a gastrointestinal specialist do?
Gastrointestinal specialists are doctors who diagnose and treat conditions related to the digestive system. Think colon cancer, ulcers, liver disease, etc. They also perform colonoscopies and other preventive procedures.
Don’t let the -intestinal part of the job title mislead you; GIs can help you with more than just intestinal problems. If an illness or pain has anything to do with your esophagus, stomach or rectum, you’ll want to see a gastroenterologist.
5 signs it’s time to see a gastrointestinal specialist
Abdominal pains occur for all kinds of reasons, and not all of them mean you need to see a GI. In some cases, you might need to see a different type of doctor.
Here are five symptoms that you probably want to discuss with a gastroenterologist:
- Severe heartburn — Heartburn occurs when stomach acid makes its way into your esophagus, causing a burning sensation in your chest and throat. It can be caused by spicy or greasy foods, but you should call a doctor if you suffer from frequent bouts of very painful heartburn. They could be signs of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), Barrett’s esophagus and other conditions.
- Painful and unexpected bloating —Bloating happens to everyone after big meals but can be worrisome if it occurs out of nowhere. Call a GI specialist if you experience painful and inexplicable bouts of bloating, as they can be a sign of IBS, Crohn’s disease and a range of other conditions.
- Constipation — Constipation is another issue that healthy people experience from time to time, but chronic constipation can be cause for concern. Schedule an appointment with a GI doctor, as this issue can be a sign of intestinal, hormonal or neurological problems.
- Unexplained weight loss —If you haven’t changed your diet, started exercising or made any other lifestyle changes in an effort to lose weight, consider calling a gastroenterologist. Digestive issues could be the issue, and they’ll affect your body’s ability to absorb nutrients.
- Rectal bleeding —Black stools are a sign of bleeding in the digestive tract, which can be caused by issues ranging from ulcers to polyps to cancer. Your stools should never be bloody, so get in touch with a GI specialist as soon as you notice signs.
Also, make sure to schedule a colonoscopy with a gastroenterologist by age 45 to make sure everything looks healthy. Digestive health is important to your overall health, and colonoscopies are crucial for maintaining your digestive system.
Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.