When to consult a gastroenterologist?

A gastroenterologist is specialized in digestive disorders which affect the digestive tract which are constraints of the oesophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum and anus) as well as the pancreas, liver, bile duct and gall bladder.

The digestive disorders and issues include abnormal changes in bowel habits, including diarrhoea, constipation, blood in stool, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), heartburn, haemorrhoids, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) which includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, then there is IBS which is also known as irritable bowel syndrome, pancreatitis, ulcers and others. Gastroenterologists are trained to perform several procedures used to help in the diagnosis and treatment of these conditions such as upper endoscopy, colonoscopy, biopsy, and various endoscopic technique that needs to visualize the digestive system, including endoscopic ultrasound. Having said this there is always a question in place when to consult a gastroenterologist. Here are some reasons to go to a gastroenterologist:

1.Ongoing diarrhoea: From food infection to adverse events from certain medication things might cause diarrhoea. However, if the stool is more liquid than solid, then it's time to check with the gastroenterologist. Generally, chronic diarrhoea can be an indication of a few digestive disorders including IBS, IBD or small bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), IBS is the most common cause of chronic diarrhoea, fortunately, there are so many treatments that the doctor can prescribe to manage the symptoms.

2.Constipation: The frequency of bowel movements ultimately varies from person to person but motion less than three a week would be considered as a typical constipation, and it would be typically small and hard to pass. Generally, for constipation, it would require lifestyle changes and medications that can help the movements regularly.

3.Frequent or severe heartburn: Heartburn would be normal in most of the cases, occasional heartburn can be managed at home. But if the heartburn symptom more than a couple of times a week is the condition of GERD. Which over time might cause damage to the oesophagus. These chronic refluxes don’t go away on their own and if left untreated might damage other organs as well. The damages might include the swallowing which causes the ulcers and increase the person’s risk of level of developing the cancer.

4.Bloated: Usually feeling bloated or feeling the belly is tight or full is often caused by excess gas production and hypersensitivity to gas or gas being trapped in the colon. Constipation can cause bloating since the longer waste stays in the colon it is more likely it is to be fermented by bacteria causing the gas. And the bloating can be also due to IBS, food severity like lactose intolerant, or SIBO (Small intestine bacterial overgrowth).

5.Sudden or severe abdominal pain: Abdominal pain might be mainly due to an abnormal small intestine. And the stomach ulcer or peptic ulcer cause disruptions in the environment and cause abdominal pain mainly during food.

6. Rectal bleeding or blood in the stool: If there is blood in the stool it could be due to haemorrhoids, which could be managed by nonprescription medication. If the haemorrhoids aren’t responding well to the OTC medication, then its always better to consult a gastroenterologist. It doesn’t always mean that rectal bleeding means haemorrhoids, it may be due to abnormal food habits or changes in diet.

7. Due to colonoscopy: If a person is over 45 and has a strong family background in colorectal cancer, then one should book an appointment for a colonoscopy.

The reasons might be numerous but having the severity of any of the above conditions, the patient should consult a gastroenterologist.

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