Gastroenterology is a medical specialisation that pays attention to the health of the digestive system. The system that they deal with is otherwise called as Gastrointestinal Tract. The specialists in this branch treat conditions like hepatitis C and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Who is a gastroenterologist?
They are specialists that mainly diagnose and treat GI issues not just in men, but also in women. When it comes to diagnosis, they perform procedures like endoscopy. During this diagnosis procedure, they use unique instruments to view the GI tract. Gastroenterologists do not perform any surgical procedures. But, at times, they work closely with GI Surgeons. They work primarily in a gastroenterology hospital setting, or they have their clinic.
What does the GI System encompass?
This system in the human body removes wastes from the body, absorbs nutrients, digests and moves foods. A gastroenterologist can deal with issues with any process in this part of the human body. It is true that the GI system encompasses mouth as well. However, these professionals do not provide any care to oral hygiene. The other part of the GI System covers:
- Salivary Glands
- Large Intestine
- Small intestine
What is gastroenterology?
It is a branch that is specialised in GI tract. Gastroenterologists deal with general diseases of the GI tract and the possible areas of focus include:
- Pancreatic Diseases
- Endoscopic Surveillance
- Gastrointestinal cancer
- Inflammatory bowel disease or chronic inflammation of digestive tract
- Hepatology that pays attention to the diagnosis and treatment of issues of the pancreas, biliary tree, gallbladder and the liver.
- Reflux esophagitis that is commonly due to gastroesophageal reflux disease.
What conditions do gastroenterologists treat?
Some of the conditions that gastroenterologists treat include hepatitis C, IBS, ulcers, acid reflux, growths and polyps that typically occur in the large intestine. The other diseases include colon cancer, a rare disease that causes inflammation of the pancreas, bloody stool, jaundice and haemorrhoids.
When should you visit a gastroenterologist?
Your general physician can refer you to a gastro if you have mysterious blood in the stool; have difficulty in swallowing foods without any specific reason, and when you have abdominal pain.
In case, you are more than 50 years of age; you might have to get assistance from a gastroenterologist for preventive care. Individuals with more than 50 years of age are at higher risk of colon cancer. You are at higher risk, in case one of your relatives has colon cancer.
What are the procedures performed by gastroenterologists?
Gastroenterologists perform a wide range of procedures that are non-surgical. The procedures include:
- Double balloon enteroscopy for examining the small intestine
- Capsule endoscopies for examining the small intestine
- To assess fibrosis and inflammation, they perform liver biopsies
- To evaluate the pain in the bowel and blood loss, they perform sigmoidoscopies.
- To diagnose scar tissue in the bile duct area, tumour and gallstones, they perform endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography.
- To diagnose colon polyps and colon cancer, they perform colonoscopy
- To examine lower and upper GI tract and also other internal organs, they perform an endoscopic ultrasound.
How to find the right gastroenterologist?
In most instances, your general physician will refer a gastroenterologist for you to visit. If this is not the case, if you experience some symptoms, where you think you need the help of a gastroenterologist, you can get help online to find a professional near you. Most importantly, if you have digestive issues, you should visit such a professional.