Many individuals suffer from digestive problems at some point in their lifetime. Sometimes, the issue is minor, such as food poisoning or heartburn. However, when you experience stomach or bowel problems that are unfamiliar, you may benefit from seeing a Gastroenterologist. Gastroenterology is a branch of medicine that focuses specifically on the digestive system. There are multiple reasons that individuals typically visit a Gastroenterologist, including heartburn, trouble swallowing, nausea, abdominal pains, diarrhea, and/or constipation.
New Digestive Symptoms
If you determine that the cause of your abdominal problems is unlike any precious symptoms that you have ever had, you might want to schedule an appointment with a Gastroenterologist. It helps to obtain any previous medical records from your primary care doctor, giving the Gastroenterologist a complete summary of your digestive health. If your diagnosis is common or easily treatable, the Gastroenterologist and your doctor may make a combined treatment plan for you.
Current Diagnosis of a Medical Condition
If your diagnosis is a chronic or existing medical condition, you may continue your care exclusively with your Gastroenterologist. Individuals experiencing a flare-up of an existing condition, such as Crohn’s disease or irritable bowel syndrome, should contact their Gastroenterologist for optimal management of their condition. Since your current Gastroenterologist is familiar with your situation, he can recommend medications, surgery or additional treatment options.
Once you reach the age of 50 years old, your primary care physician may refer you to a Gastroenterologist to undergo a colonoscopy. By performing the screening colonoscopy you can eliminate the worry of colon cancer. Or if any abnormalities are found at the time of the colonoscopy they can be managed appropriately and in a timely manner. You can also request a screening colonoscopy on your own or you can ask your primary care physician to request it for you.
When to schedule an appointment
As with most specialties, you don’t need to schedule your own appointment with a Gastroenterologist. Usually, you should see your primary care physician first, allowing him to determine if the cause of your symptoms is a simple issue or if it requires the attention of a specialist. If your primary physician prescribes a medication or treatment for your symptoms that is ineffective, you can request a referral to a specialist (ie Gastroenterologist). Make sure you request the release of your medical records to the treatment facility, or bring your medical records with you to your appointment. With a visit to a Gastroenterologist you are just a few steps away from eliminating your gastrointestinal symptoms.
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