What Is a Gastroenterologist?
A gastroenterologist is a physician who has specialised training and experience in managing diseases of the gastrointestinal tract – the stomach, intestines, esophagus, liver, pancreas, colon and rectum. The training involves more than 7 years of education in internal medicine and gastroenterology following medical school. This includes training in endoscopy – the use of narrow, flexible lighted tubes with built-in video cameras used to see the inside of the GI tract.
Why Should You Visit a Gastroenterologist?
The unique training and experience of gastroenterologists allows them to provide high-quality, comprehensive care for patients with GI conditions. Studies have shown that gastroenterologists perform higher quality colonoscopies and provide more comprehensive care for gastrointestinal conditions than other physicians. This translates to more accurate detection of polyps and cancer, fewer complications from procedures and less time in the hospital for patients treated by gastroenterologists.
When Should You See a Gastroenterologist?
Patients are usually referred to gastroenterologist by their local doctor or by other specialists. Your doctor may recommend you see a gastroenterologist if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms of GI disorders:
- Rectal bleeding
- Leakage/underwear stains
- Bowel movement urges that are hard to control
- Change in bowel habits
- Pale-colored stools
- Dark urine
- Heartburn (acid reflux)
- Abdominal pain or bloating
- Excessive gas or belching
- Esophageal pain
- Liver disease
- Loss of appetite or weight