Is It Time To See a Gastroenterologist?
We all suffer from gastrointestinal ailments very commonly in our lives. It is important to know when to seek help from a specialist called a gastroenterologist rather than trying home remedies
First, it’s important to understand what a gastroenterologist is. A gastroenterologist is a medical professional who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions that affect the digestive system. This includes the oesophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine (colon), rectum, liver, gallbladder, and pancreas.
Gastroenterologists work closely with other medical professionals, including primary care physicians, surgeons, and radiologists, to provide comprehensive care for their patients with abdominal diseases. Treatment options can vary depending on the specific condition but may include medications, dietary changes, and in some cases, surgery.
Common Reasons To See a Gastroenterologist
There are some key signs that you may need to consult with a specialist in digestive health.
If you’re experiencing chronic or recurrent digestive problems, such as abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, heartburn, or vomiting, it may be time to see a gastroenterologist. These symptoms can be caused by a wide range of conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), celiac disease, ulcers, and infections. A gastroenterologist can help determine the underlying cause of your symptoms and develop an effective treatment plan.
Another reason to see a gastroenterologist is if you have a family history of digestive disorders. Some of these, such as IBD and celiac disease, tend to run in families. If you have a parent or sibling who has been diagnosed with one of these conditions, you may be at increased risk. A gastroenterologist can help you understand your risk and provide guidance on how to manage it.
If you’re experiencing unusual symptoms, such as blood in your stool, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes), or unexplained weight loss, it’s important to see a gastroenterologist right away. These symptoms can be signs of more serious conditions, such as cancer, and early diagnosis and treatment can make a significant difference in the outcome.
In addition to these symptoms and risk factors, there are other situations in which it may be helpful to see a gastroenterologist. For example, if you’re having difficulty swallowing or you’ve been diagnosed with a condition that affects the digestive system, such as Crohn’s disease or liver disease, a gastroenterologist can provide specialized care and support.
Making a Treatment Plan
Treatment for abdominal diseases varies depending on the specific condition and its severity. In some cases, medication may be used to control symptoms and prevent complications. In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the diseased intestinal segment and restore bowel continuity.
Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent complications and improve quality of life.
The Techniques For The Diagnosis and Treatment of Abdominal Diseases?
Gastroenterologists use a variety of techniques and tools to diagnose and treat abdominal diseases, including gastroscopy, colonoscopy, and biopsy.
Gastroscopy / Upper GI Endoscopy
Gastroscopy, also known as an upper endoscopy, is a medical procedure used to examine the inside of the upper part of the digestive system, including the oesophagus, stomach, and duodenum (the first part of the small intestine). The procedure is typically performed by a gastroenterologist.
During a gastroscopy, the doctor will insert a long, flexible tube called an endoscope into the mouth and carefully guide it down the oesophagus and into the stomach and duodenum. The endoscope has a light and a camera at its tip. It allows the doctor to view the inside of the stomach and the upper digestive tract on a screen. The doctor may also be able to take tissue samples (biopsies) or remove any abnormalities that are found during the procedure.
The procedure usually takes 15-30 minutes, and most people are given sedative medication to help them relax during the procedure. After the gastroscopy, the person will need to rest for a short time before being allowed to go home.
Gastroscopy is commonly used to diagnose and treat conditions affecting the stomach, such as ulcers, tumours, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). It is a very useful tool for identifying and treating these conditions and may be recommended if a person is experiencing symptoms such as abdominal pain, heartburn, or difficulty swallowing.
Conclusion: Gastroscopy involves inserting a small, flexible tube with a camera on the end into the oesophagus, stomach, or small intestine to view the inside of the organ and identify any abnormalities.
Colonoscopy / Sigmoidoscopy
A colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy is a medical procedure that is used to examine the large intestine (also called the colon) for abnormalities. The procedure is performed by a gastroenterologist.
During a colonoscopy, the doctor will insert a long, flexible tube called a colonoscope into the rectum. The colonoscope has a light and a camera at its tip, allowing the doctor to view the inside of the colon on a screen. The doctor will slowly guide the colonoscope through the entire length of the colon, carefully examining the lining of the colon for any abnormalities.
The colonoscope can also be used to take tissue samples (biopsies) or remove growths such as polyps. In some cases, the doctor may inflate the colon with air to get a better view.
The procedure usually takes 30-60 minutes, and most people are given sedative medication to help them relax during the procedure. After the colonoscopy, the person will need to rest for a short time before being allowed to go home.
A colonoscopy can help the doctor detect and diagnose conditions such as colon cancer, polyps, and inflammatory bowel disease. It is a very important tool for preventing and treating these conditions and is typically recommended for people over the age of 50 (or earlier if there is a family history of colon cancer).
Conclusion: Colonoscopy involves a similar procedure but specifically for the colon and rectum.
An intestinal biopsy is a medical procedure in which a small sample of tissue is taken from the intestines for examination. This is typically done using a thin, flexible tube called an endoscope, which may be inserted through the mouth for an upper tract biopsy or inserted into the rectum and passed through the large intestine. The tissue sample is then sent to a laboratory for analysis.
A biopsy of the intestines can be used to diagnose a variety of conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, and cancer. It may also be used to evaluate the effectiveness of certain treatments for these conditions. In general, an intestinal biopsy is a safe and relatively quick procedure that can provide valuable information for doctors and patients.
Conclusion: A biopsy involves removing a small tissue sample from the affected organ for further examination in a laboratory.
The Common Abdominal Diseases Treated by Gastroenterologists
Common abdominal diseases treated by gastroenterologists include gastrointestinal infections, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), gallstones, liver diseases, and pancreatitis.
Gastrointestinal infections are infections that affect the digestive tract, including the stomach and intestines. These infections can be caused by a variety of pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Symptoms of gastrointestinal infections may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach pain, and fever. In severe cases, these infections can lead to dehydration and malnutrition.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition in which stomach acid flows back up into the oesophagus, causing irritation and inflammation. This can cause symptoms such as heartburn, chest pain, and difficulty swallowing.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic condition characterized by inflammation of the digestive tract, leading to symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and weight loss. IBS is a functional disorder that affects the large intestine and causes symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, and changes in bowel movements.
Gallstones are small, hard deposits that form in the gallbladder and can cause abdominal pain and other symptoms.
“Liver disease” is a broad term that refers to any condition that affects the liver, such as hepatitis or cirrhosis.
Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas that can cause severe abdominal pain and other symptoms.
Abdominal diseases are a broad category of disorders that affect any of the organs located in the abdomen, including the digestive organs mentioned above. These conditions can range from mild and manageable to severe and life-threatening.
In conclusion, if you’re experiencing chronic or recurrent digestive problems, have a family history of digestive conditions, or are experiencing unusual symptoms, it may be time to see a gastroenterologist. A gastroenterologist can help diagnose and treat conditions that affect the digestive system and can guide you on how to manage your risk of developing these conditions.
Don’t hesitate to seek out a gastroenterologist if you have concerns about your digestive health.
Horizon Hospital has a well-established gastroenterology service headed by Dr. Ayub Naich, a consultant interventional gastroenterologist and hepatologist. He has vast experience in clinical and diagnostic gastroenterology. He performs a whole range of endoscopies, including gastroscopy, colonoscopy, and ERCP, with gratifying results.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of the best gastroenterologists in Lahore.