There are certain problems with your gastrointestinal (GI) tract that calls for more than just the care of a regular physician. Specific situations that require the expertise of a trained specialist to come up with a proper diagnosis arise from time to time. Oftentimes, the right person for the job is a gastrointestinal specialist, or a gastroenterologist.
These experts focus their medical work on conditions that affect the digestive tract, including the rectum, stomach, colon, esophagus, pancreas, and even the liver and intestines. Given the important function these parts of your body play, it’s only right to never turn a blind eye if there is a need to seek immediate medical care concerning ailments affecting them.
To help guide you, here are five signs you need to see a gastroenterologist as soon as possible:
Bloating And Excess Gas
Occasional bloating can be considered acceptable or normal at times. This can happen right after you’ve just had a full meal, for instance. But, if you regularly experience abdominal bloating and you’re passing out excess gas more often than before, then it’s best to consult a gastroenterologist. If the specialist determines that you need to get an endoscopy, you may be referred to a gastrointestinal endoscopy specialist like Doctor Kavin Nanda.
Usually, regular bloating and excess gas may be a sign of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), which is a form of digestive intolerance to certain food items.
Regular bloating can be a big problem, especially when accompanied by other symptoms like a drastic change in your weight or changes in your stool’s color and consistency.
Abnormal Bowel Movements
A normal bowel movement is said to be one of the epitomes of good health. If you have normal bowel movements but experienced sudden changes that you can’t seem to explain, it may be a sign for you to consult a doctor. If this change persists, your doctor may refer you to a gastroenterologist for further diagnosis.
Abnormal bowel movements can be classified into the following:
- Diarrhea. A runny stool once in a while is normal, especially when you’ve recently had an upset stomach. But, if your bowel stays runny for days, then it could be a problem. Only a specialist can diagnose with certainty what the exact problem is.
- Constipation. You’re said to be constipated when you empty your bowels less than thrice a week. A doctor can determine what the root cause is and find out if your constipation isn’t a sign of any serious health problem.
The presence of blood in one’s stool isn’t normal. If you have observed your stool having traces of blood in it, it’s necessary to check it out with a specialist. Usually, blood in the stool can mean there’s bleeding somewhere in your digestive tract, intestines, or rectal area. It’s only through an endoscopy that a thorough check can be done to determine the source of the bleeding.
Some of the common causes of rectal bleeding may include:
- Anal fissures
- Possible colon cancer.
This isn’t something for you to diagnose on your own. It’s best to see a doctor to be certain if there are any serious health issues that must be addressed while they’re still in their early stages.
Frequent Heartburn Episodes
Occasional episodes of heartburn are said to be normal. It’s usually caused by eating foods that are either acidic, spicy, or too fatty. But if you experience heartburn frequently, it can be a sign of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). If left untreated, the acid caused by GERD can lead to damage in your stomach lining, and even more complications in the long run.
Heartburn is characterized by the following symptoms:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Burning feeling in your chest
- Sour, acidic, or salty taste behind your throat.
Usually, heartburn can be treated with over-the-counter medicines. But, if your heartburn becomes frequent, a proper medical assessment should be carried out by a gastroenterologist just to be sure it isn’t a symptom of any other underlying disease.
Nausea And Vomiting
Nausea and vomiting are medical conditions that typically aren’t a main cause of serious concern. It can simply be the body’s response after an allergy; but in more severe cases, it may also be a sign of a serious gastrointestinal disease.
Usually, nausea and vomiting can easily be managed at home without the need for any serious medication or treatment needed. But you have to see a doctor when the following circumstances are present:
- Your nausea is accompanied by crushing chest pain, jaw pain, and pain in your arm.
- Your nausea comes with severe headaches, difficulty breathing, and confusion.
If you suspect a more serious health issue, you may have to consult a gastroenterologist.
Considering all of the information shared above, the most important takeaway is to always see a doctor whenever you experience any abnormal symptom in your body, including your stomach and digestive area.
Even if you think and consider the symptoms are just fleeting, never resort to self-medication. It’s best to ask for the opinion of the experts and specialists who have years of education and training under their belt to prevent any of your would-be minor symptoms from escalating to more serious health concerns.
More so, once you’ve made the decision to seek the help of a gastroenterologist in your local area, always be sure you’re working with someone with the proper qualifications and choose the ones that offer services that are nothing less than the best.