Gastroenterology – When To See a Doctor About Your Digestive Health

Gastroenterology problems can make it hard to function from day to day. If you experience issues with your digestion, you may want to consider seeking out the advice of a doctor who specializes in digestive disorders.

Gastroenterology is the field of medicine which focuses its study on the function of the digestive tract and the diseases which affect it. The digestive tract is considered to be every organ and body part which is involved in digestion, from the mouth and esophagus, to the stomach, intestines and rectal area. Doctors which specialize in this field of medicine are called gastroenterologists. Some gastroenterologists are also hepatologists, because the liver and pancreas are important to the function of the digestion.

There are many reasons you may seek out the services of a gastroenterologist One of the most common procedures this type of doctor would perform is a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy is a procedure during which the patient is sedated, and the large intestine is examined using a small, flexible camera. Tiny samples of tissue are collected from the large intestine and these samples are biopsied. It is recommended that everyone over the age of 50 have a colonoscopy performed to check for polyps or other irregularities in their colon. For most people, this procedure will be the only time they need to see a gastroenterologist. For others, certain digestive ailments may give them reason to seek out a doctor who specializes in gastroenterology.

Some common ailments that gastroenterology studies are acid reflux and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Often, gastroenterologists only need you to describe your symptoms in order to make a diagnosis. Acid reflux is also known as heart burn, and is accompanied by a feeling of burning in the esophagus caused by too much stomach acid. Sometimes acid reflux leaves a bad taste in your mouth when it is particularly severe. Almost everyone has experienced heart burn, and it can usually be attributed to eating something particularly greasy or full of carbohydrates. If you experience heart burn regularly, then you may need to see a doctor. If acid reflux is severe enough and is left untreated, it can lead to erosion of the esophagus. Luckily, being conscientious about what you eat as well taking certain kinds of medication can keep symptoms of acid reflux at bay and heal any damage that may have been done.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, which can also cause heart burn, may cause you to have stomach pains and irregular bowel movements. Some days you may experience diarrhea and then the other days you may experience constipation. It is important to see a doctor if you are having these issues on a regular basis. If medication does not alleviate the symptoms, or if they worsen, a gastroenterologist may want to do further testing in order to rule out a more serious disease called Inflammatory Bowel Disease.


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