What Are Common Gastroenterology Symptoms?

digestive system problems

Digestive Symptoms to Heed

Consider Seeing a Gastroenterologist

When you are experiencing gastrointestinal tract problems, it might be more than an uncomfortable issue.

In many cases, the symptoms that are being experienced are a signal that something is going wrong with the body. At times, it may be easy to remedy but at other times, the treatment may be more extensive. In order to properly diagnose, evaluate and manage any of those issues, you can call on a gastroenterologist, the type of doctor who specializes in diseases that affect the digestive system.

When You Experience. . .

When you experience any of the following digestive tract symptoms, it is best to consult such a specialist. They can rule out anything serious and offer a treatment option to care for the situation

  • Abdominal Pain or Discomfort – Although it is not abnormal to experience some stomach pain from time to time, any persistent or severe pain could be a sign of something serious.
  • Constipation or Diarrhea – This is often one of the first signs that are noticed when a digestive problem takes place. It is also an issue that can be caused by a wide variety of problems, including improper diet, dehydration and side effects from various medications.
  • Difficulty Swallowing – This problem can be a chronic issue but it could also come on suddenly. Aside from the discomfort you may experience, it could lead to additional issues if it is not treated properly.
  • Gastritis – This is a problem with inflammation of the digestive tract. It could be caused by many different problems, including some that are fairly simple to manage. It can also be an uncomfortable issue.
  • Hemorrhoids – Although this is a common problem, it is one that most people would rather do without. They can be either internal or external and when they are serious, surgery may be considered.
  • Ulcers – This is an issue that can take place in various places along the GI tract. They can be uncomfortable and could lead to a variety of other symptoms, depending on their severity and location.
  • Weight Loss – Many people attempt to lose weight, but when it takes place for no known reason, it can be a sign that something is going on in the body. This is also a problem that can be treated by a gastroenterologist.
  • Jaundice – This is a problem that can be a sign of liver disease.
  • Bleeding – When blood is detected in the stool it is a sign that should be checked into right away.
  • Heartburn – This may be a common problem but it is one that should be checked on by a specialist. Typically, a case of mild heartburn can be treated with antacids but if it is persistent, it may need to be looked into by a specialist.

These are some of the many different gastrointestinal symptoms you might experience. There may be times when they are mild and easy to treat but they could also be a sign of a more serious problem that needs attention right away.

Common Symptoms Of Gastroenterology Diseases

digestive diseases

Digestive Health Disease Symptoms

Are you frequently experiencing stomach or intestinal problems? It is possible you have one of the many gastroenterology diseases and need to see a specialist.

Gastroenterologists specialize in diseases that affect the digestive organs of the body. This includes every organ beginning at the mouth all the way to the anus. The digestive tract includes the small and large intestines, the stomach, and the esophagus. When you experience ongoing digestive health issues, it is a good idea to make an appointment to discuss your concerns with a gastroenterologist. This physician can evaluate your condition, diagnose any problems and then recommend the correct treatment.

There are many symptoms of gastroenterology conditions, but the three most common are heartburn, diarrhea and abdominal pain and constipation. If you have any of these conditions for more than a few days, you should make an appointment with your doctor.

Heartburn

Heartburn is very common, especially following a spicy or fried meal. Heartburn is characterized by a burning feeling that comes up from your stomach and settles under your sternum or reaches into your throat. If you experience this condition frequently you may have acid reflux which is a gastrointestinal disease. Sometimes, the burning sensation is accompanied by difficulty swallowing or a dry cough.

Acid Reflux

If left untreated, acid reflux can result in damage to your esophagus and cause you to develop an ulcer. In some extreme cases, acid reflux can cause cancer. Most of the time, this condition can be treated with medications. In very serious circumstances, a gastroenterologist may recommend surgery to tighten the muscles between the stomach and the esophagus so the acid cannot escape the stomach.

Diarrhea and Abdominal Pain

Other frequent symptoms of gastrointestinal issues are diarrhea and abdominal pain. If you are experiencing either of these, they could be symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease or IBD. This is a serious gastrointestinal disease which should be treated as quickly as possible. Two of the most common types of IBD are ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Individuals who have IBD may also experience rectal bleeding and weight loss. Your doctor can diagnose these conditions by running a series of lab tests. If the results are positive, you will most likely be placed on a regimen of medications that will include immunosuppressant drugs and anti-inflammatories.

If you have persistent abdominal pain, you could also have a peptic ulcer. This type of ulcer forms in the upper part of the intestine or in the lining of the stomach. It may be caused by excessive smoking or use of alcohol. Taking too many NSAIDs can also cause an ulcer and sometimes, they are caused by bad bacteria. If you are diagnosed with an ulcer, the doctor will prescribe antibiotics. If these don’t clear it up, surgery may be required.

Constipation

Another possible gastrointestinal disorder is chronic constipation. This is a common problem and can usually be treated with laxatives. It is important not to take too many laxatives since this can cause other types of medical conditions.

Gastroenterology diseases affect the digestive system. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, you should make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.

What Does a Gastroenterologist Do On Your First Visit?

first gastroenterologist visit

What to Expect on the Initial Visit

Gastroenterologists are board certified, highly trained specialists that are expected to complete four years of training at medical school, three years in a residency, and then a fellowship that can last between two and four years. There are general gastroenterologists, and then there are others that specialize in a particular part of the digestive system such as the esophagus or the liver.

A gastroenterologist can diagnose and examine, but they do not perform surgery, there are other specialists for that. Usually, you will be referred to a gastroenterologist by your GP. They will send you there if you have GI symptoms that have lasted for a long time and that have not responded to diet changes or to basic treatments.

Establishing History

Your first visit will likely involve being asked a lot of questions about your medical history. You may have been given a questionnaire to fill out. This is to establish a medical history of you and your family, so that they can get an idea of any health issues that you may be more likely to suffer from or that are known to run in the family.

You may see a nurse before the specialist. They will do a basic exam, checking things like your heart rate and blood pressure. After that, the gastroenterologist will then double check the details in your medical history and ask any appropriate questions about medication, allergies or symptoms. Before you are given a full test you will be examined. You may need a motility test, an x-ray, or a GI procedure. In some cases, endoscopies or other procedures may be performed.

The first visit could take up to one hour, depending on the kind of tests that are carried out. It is important that the specialist can get a full profile of you so that they know what treatments to suggest for the future. You may need medication, or extra care. If you need a full GI endoscopic procedure and the specialist at the facility cannot do it, they will book one at a different clinic for you. Often, these can be scheduled for the same day and transport can be arranged for you.

Follow-up Visits

A single visit will not resolve the issue; you will need to book another appointment, or more than one, as a follow-up. The follow-up appointments are typically much shorter than the initial one as there are fewer details needed.

You will be advised if you are going to need detailed exams or procedures. You will be told if you need to limit your food intake or not drink anything, or avoid taking certain medication before you come to the clinic. Be sure to follow these instructions, because you will find that if you do not follow them, the results of the tests could be invalid and in some cases you could be putting your health in danger. There are good reasons for the instructions regarding food intake, as frustrating as they can be.