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Why would you go to a gastroenterologist?

News

29.01.2024

Gastroenterology is a branch of medicine that deals with the digestive system and its disorders. Gastroenterologists diagnose and treat diseases of the esophagus, stomach, intestines, colon, liver, bile ducts, and pancreas. Among the most common conditions they deal with are gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), gastric and duodenal ulcers, malignant tumors, inflammatory bowel diseases, colorectal cancer, and rectal disorders.

The first scientific studies of the digestive system were conducted by Jan Baptist van Helmont in the 17th century. In 1833, the publication of William Beaumont’s observations shed new light on the nature of gastric juice and the digestive process as a whole. Since then, gastroenterology has been developing rapidly, as the number of patients with digestive problems continues to increase.

But if you’ve never visited a gastroenterologist before, you may not be sure if your digestive discomfort really requires a visit to a specialist. In this article, we’ll try to explain everything you need to know if you’re wondering whether it’s time to see such a specialist, as well as how the first meeting with them goes.

When to visit gastroenterologist?

Acids/Heartburn

Occasional acidity in the stomach shouldn’t be cause for concern, and the good news is that sporadic acids can usually be managed at home.

But if you experience acidity symptoms more than a few times a week, this could be a sign of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Over time, this condition can damage and leave marks on the lining of the esophagus.

Chronic acid reflux doesn’t quiet down on its own, so it’s important to be examined by a specialist. Left untreated, GERD can cause permanent damage to the esophagus. This damage can lead to swallowing problems, cause painful ulcers, and even increase the risk of developing esophageal cancer.

Chronic Diarrhea

From food to infection or certain medications, there are many factors that can lead to diarrhea. However, if bowel movements are consistently more liquid than solid, it’s time to consult a medical specialist.

Chronic diarrhea can be an indication of several different digestive disorders, including inflammatory bowel diseases, irritable bowel syndrome, or bacterial overgrowth. Irritable bowel syndrome is the most common cause of chronic diarrhea. There are many treatment options that a doctor can use to help manage the problem.

Constipation

The frequency of bowel movements varies from person to person, but the general understanding is that less than three times per week is usually considered constipation.

If your constipation continues for weeks, it is advised you must consult a gastroenterologist.

Constipation can have many causes, and sometimes it’s difficult to manage on your own at home. A gastroenterologist can help you determine the likely cause of constipation and recommend lifestyle changes and medications that can help make bowel movements more regular.

Unusual Bloating

Bloating which can be felt when the abdomen is full or tight, is often caused by issues that lead to excessive gas production, sensitivity to gas, or gas retention in the large intestine.

Severe Abdominal Pain

We’ve all experienced abdominal pain, but severe abdominal pain that lasts for hours or sudden, intense abdominal pain is not considered normal.

Stomach ulcers or peptic ulcers, which are sores in the lining of the stomach or the first part of the small intestine, can cause burning abdominal pain, especially after eating. Untreated ulcers can lead to bloating and scars that block the digestive tract.

Persistent severe abdominal pain may also be a sign of gallstones, pancreatitis, or liver disease. A gastroenterologist can help you determine the cause of the pain.

Rectal Bleeding   

If you notice blood on the toilet paper or in the toilet bowl while using the bathroom, it could be hemorrhoids, a fairly common problem that can usually be managed with home remedies or over-the-counter products.

However, if hemorrhoids don’t respond to these treatments or if you experience them frequently, a gastroenterologist may recommend more advanced treatments that can help provide relief.

What happens during an examination by gastroenterologist?

If you’ve noticed any of the above-mentioned symptoms, it’s time to consider scheduling an appointment with a gastroenterologist. During your first visit, they will:

Ask about digestive symptoms and medical history.

Recommend any lifestyle changes or medications that may help relieve the symptoms.

Discuss any tests or procedures that may be necessary.

Through this initial assessment, the doctor will begin the process of uncovering the cause of the digestive issues.

If the condition is considered chronic, the doctor will discuss how best to manage it over time. They may also discuss additional tests that may be necessary if the symptoms do not improve.

At Medical Center Hera you can get access to:

    • Consultation with leading specialists in the field;

    • Performing ultrasound examinations;

    • Performing fibrogastroscopy and fibrocolonoscopy.

    Fibrogastroscopy is a specific examination involving the insertion of a thin optical tube (fibrogastroscope) through the mouth, passing through the esophagus, and reaching the stomach and the beginning of the duodenum to detect diseases of these organs. Conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease, peptic ulcer disease, benign, and malignant tumors are investigated. If necessary, biopsy material is taken for histological examination (to confirm the disease), and various therapeutic manipulations are performed (for the purpose of treatment).

    Fibrocolonoscopy is an endoscopic examination of the lower part of the digestive system – the rectum and the various sections of the colon. During this procedure, the interior of these organs is examined using a thin tube with a fiberoptic system, and if necessary, biopsies are taken or various therapeutic manipulations are performed.

    At your disposal at Medical Center Hera we have two experienced gastroenterologists – Dr Katerina Toncheva and Dr Ivan Popdiyn
    You can book your appointment HERE or call us on 02 404 8656 or 0882 441 433

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