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When to See Your Gastroenterologist

Should you schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist?

A gastroenterologist is a medical specialist who diagnoses and treats conditions and disorders that impact the gastrointestinal tract including the liver, gallbladder and intestines. If you are dealing with digestive problems, a GI doctor is probably going to be the best doctor to turn to. Here’s when you could benefit from seeing a gastroenterologist,

You’re Experiencing Persistent Heartburn

Dealing with heartburn two or more times a week? If so, your heartburn could actually be a sign of something more serious known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Untreated GERD can increase your risk for esophageal cancer so it’s important that you turn to a qualified GI doctor for the proper way to treat heartburn symptoms. If you are dealing with recurring heartburn, using over-the-counter medications regularly is not the answer. A gastroenterologist can help.

You’re Noticing Abnormal Bowel Issues

Whether you’re dealing with diarrhea, constipation or a mix of both, we all know that these issues can be uncomfortable and embarrassing; however, it’s important to recognize when these are issues that warrant seeing a gastroenterologist. If you’re experiencing constipation or diarrhea that lasts for more than a couple of days, or if you’re experiencing dehydration due to diarrhea, you should turn to a GI doctor.

You Experience Rectal Bleeding

Rectal bleeding may be caused by more minor issues such as a fissure or hemorrhoids but it may also be a sign of internal bleeding. The color of the blood can give you a clue as to where the bleed is coming from. For example, dark blood often comes from the upper GI tract and may be caused by inflammation, gastroenteritis or ulcers. If blood is bright red this typically comes from the lower digestive tract and may be caused by polyps, inflammatory bowel disease, hemorrhoids or rectal prolapse. If you notice frequent or heavy rectal bleeding, you should see a gastroenterologist right away.

You Turned 50 Years Old

Everyone, regardless of risk factors, should turn to a gastroenterologist for routine colonoscopies. A colonoscopy is the best way to detect early signs of colorectal cancer (a gastroenterologist can even remove polyps during this standard procedure). If you are at an increased risk for colorectal cancer, you should talk to your GI doctor about getting colonoscopies starting at 45 years old.

No one wants to deal with digestive difficulties. If you are dealing with any of the situations above, a gastroenterologist can help you make sense of what’s going on and provide you with the treatment you need to feel better.

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