If you have symptoms such as irregular bowel movements, rectal bleeding, excessive heartburn, stomach pain, bloating, or difficulty swallowing, you might be advised to see a gastroenterologist, a digestive disorders specialist, or if you are of age to begin routine colorectal cancer screening.
If your symptoms are fresh or mild in severity, you can see your regular doctor for some preliminary tests. He or she will decide whether or not you need to see a specialist.
Author: Dr. Sarmed Sami MBChB, MRCP, PGCME, PhD
Consultant Gastroenterologist, Founder and Director of Digestive Health UK. https://digestivehealthuk.com/
Who is a gastroenterologist?
Many people think of the human gastrointestinal system as consisting only of the stomach and intestines. The oesophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon, and rectum, as well as the pancreas, gallbladder, bile ducts, and liver, are all examined in gastroenterology.
Abnormal bowel movements
Constipation can be caused by a blockage, neurological problems, muscular or hormonal dysfunction, diet, or other causes if you have less than three bowel movements per week. A gastroenterologist will help you figure out what’s causing your symptoms.
Diarrhea: If you have runny stool for more than a few days, it may be caused by a virus, parasite/bacteria, lactose sensitivity, a drug reaction, or other digestive disorders like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, to name a few.
Blood in the stool may have a variety of causes, but it usually indicates that there is bleeding somewhere in your digestive tract. An anal fissure (a minor cut or tear in the tissue lining the anus), haemorrhoids, or anything needing medical treatment, such as cancer, may be the cause.
Heartburn on rare occasions is probably nothing to worry about, but chronic heartburn could mean GERD, Barrett’s Esophagus, or even esophageal cancer. If you have frequent acid reflux, you could be diagnosed with GERD and given medication to relieve your pain, as well as tests to validate the diagnosis.
45 plus age
A screening test is a preventative measure that should be performed prior to the onset of symptoms. Precancerous polyps, which can be detected and removed during a colonoscopy, are also the start of colorectal cancer. Adults aged 50 to 75 should be screened for colorectal cancer, according to the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). Some patients need screening colonoscopies sooner than others. African Americans, for example, should begin the screening process at the age of 45.
You may have trouble swallowing or are unable to swallow due to some illnesses. If you have frequent esophageal pain or trouble swallowing, or if your difficulty swallowing worsens over time, a gastroenterologist can perform an upper endoscopy to determine the source of your discomfort and begin treating it.