Gastroenterology is the branch of medicine that deals with common problems such as loss of appetite, nausea , vomiting and diarrhea. In this article, I will give answer to your question of When Should i consult Gastroenterologist?
Gastrointestinal (GI) disorders are very common; it affects more than 70 million Americans and accounts for more than 15 billion dollars in health care costs annually, according to the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA).
Patients often face difficulty in diagnosing GI diseases as symptoms can be similar, patients may consult doctors but fail to find out exact diagnosis. However consulting a gastroenterologist will not only solve this problem but also help you understand what treatment options you have available for your condition.
Symptoms that need immediate medical attention:
1. Bleeding from rectum- Bleeding from rectum can be dangerous and needs immediate attention. It is a sign of life-threatening conditions such as hemorrhoids, anal fissure, colorectal cancer , ulcerative colitis or diverticulitis.
2. Abdominal pain – Abdominal pain with vomiting, weight loss and bloating requires an immediate medical attention. Gastrointestinal symptoms that may indicate a serious underlying condition may include:
1) abdominal pain that varies in intensity over time
2) stomach pain accompanied by other symptoms such as fever, bloody stools or dark urine
3) abdominal discomfort lasting more than two days for which you took two over-the-counter medications without relief
4) changes in bowel habits
5) unintentional weight loss
6) bloating or fullness after eating only a small amount of food.
3. Nausea with vomiting- Nausea with vomiting may indicate gallstones, acute pancreatitis, stomach flu, hepatitis A virus infection.
4. Recurring abdominal pain for more than three days- Recurring abdominal pain that is persistent and occurs at least three times per month for longer than 3 months can be polyps or cancer.
5. Bloody stools – bloody stools are usually seen in bleeding from the upper GI tract (esophagus, stomach etc.) , but it may also indicate colon cancer , ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease . It is very important to consult your gastroenterologist for this symptom.
6. Loss of appetite- Lack of appetite may indicate anorexia, stomach flu or cancer.
7. Weight loss- Weight loss may indicate pancreatic cancer , hepatitis and Crohn’s disease . It is advised to immediately consult a gastroenterologist
8. Bloating with abdominal distension – Bloating with abdominal distension that is caused due to constipation can indicate slow digestion and also intestinal obstruction whereas bloating after meals with abdominal distension which is relieved by belching or passing gas suggests irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Belching with bloating after meals indicates lactose intolerance
9. Nausea with not related to pregnancy- Nausea without any pregnancy related complication such as miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy should be immediately explored. Gastroenterologist can help you with the proper diagnosis and treatment of these symptoms.
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These are some of the common but less serious gastrointestinal conditions that can be dealt by a gastroenterologist. More than 40% of visits to primary care physicians and emergency rooms for abdominal pain and nausea/vomiting are due to problems that originate in the digestive tract and can be treated by gastroenterologists. Other reasons for consulting a gastroenterologist include:
1) Difficulty swallowing or indigestion
2) Blood in stool or black stools
3) Rectal bleeding
4) Abnormal liver tests such as ALT.
So, this was our article of When Should i consult Gastroenterologist? I hope, with this article, you must have got your answer.