When should you visit a Gastroenterologist?
I know that not everything that starts with ‘gas’ may seem like an attractive prospect, but just hear me out, okay? As of 2020, 40% of adults globally, at a given time, suffer from gastric diseases. This number is bound to increase due to our poor lifestyles and eating habits, along with the negligence towards Gastroenterol-health that stops us from living healthy lives. Read this blog to learn more about digestive well-being and about the gatekeepers of digestive well-being – gastroenterologists.
What Does a Gastroenterologist Do?
A doctor specializing in gastroenterology is known as a gastroenterologist. The study of gastroenterology involves a detailed comprehension of the normal capacity and diseases of the stomach, esophagus, pancreas, colon and rectum, gallbladder, liver, small intestine, and bile ducts. Gastroenterologists are also referred to as gastrologists for the convenience of pronunciation.
These physicians have training in the disease management of the liver and gastrointestinal tract (the digestive system passageway that starts at one’s mouth leading to the anus). A gastroenterologist treats some of the following digestive conditions and disorders:
- GERD or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (which would involve symptoms like heartburn and acid reflux)
- IBD or Inflammatory Bowel Disease (that includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease)
- IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Fatty Liver Disease
- Hepatitis A, B & C
When Must You Consult a Gastroenterologist?
Usually, it is a general physician that recommends you visit a gastroenterologist. However, the following are some of the common signs of concern that you can look for to know that it is high time you get a consultation from a gastroenterologist:
Unusual Bowel Movements
A change noticed in your normal/regular bowel movements can indicate a sign. Such drastic changes in bowel movements include:
- Constipation – Having less than three bowel movements in a week is a condition of constipation.
- Excessive Gas – Although not a major standalone concern, excessive gas combined with other symptoms can be indicative of digestive issues needing immediate attention.
- Diarrhea – Persistently runny stools for days warrant a sign of concern.
- Light or Pale-Colored Stool – Prolonged passing of light or pale-colored stool can be a worrisome sign and indicate one of many digestive disorders.
A Digestive Condition Diagnosis
If you’ve already been diagnosed with a digestive condition/disorder by a general physician, you would need to get yourself under the care of a gastroenterologist.
Concerning Symptoms: You would need to immediately consult with a gastroenterologist if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Rectal bleeding
- Jaundice (usual symptoms are yellowing of eyes and/or skin)
- Sudden weight loss
- Difficulty swallowing
- Passing blood with stool
Above 45 Years Old: This is the recommended age for getting a screening for colorectal cancer. The procedure of this screening is known as a colonoscopy. Even with a normal result, a colonoscopy is needed to be taken every 10 years.
Prolonged Minor Symptoms: In case you have been experiencing any of the following minor symptoms for more than a week, then it is time to get a check-up from a gastroenterologist:
- Sudden abdominal pain
Do Gastroenterologists Perform Surgeries?
Yes. Gastroenterologists generally only treat digestive conditions/disorders non-surgically. They do, however, perform minor procedures such as biopsies and polypectomies that are necessary to confirm diseases. In case you need surgery for a digestive issue, your gastroenterologist can offer you a recommendation and consult you throughout the process.
Dr Vijaykumar C Bada is a Gastroenterologist and Surgeon who performs gastro surgeries to treat gastrointestinal issues.
Gastroenterologists’ unique training allows them to offer extensive and high-quality care for their patients. Since they are an expert in the field, examinations performed by them show accurate results ensuring fewer complications and thorough care. Remember to immediately visit one if you think you or a family member is in need of a consultation.
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