Gastroenterologists are also known as stomach doctors. These medical professionals specialize in the health of the digestive tract. If you're experiencing stomach pain or discomfort, you may need to see this specialist. Still, it can be difficult to know when it's appropriate to seek medical attention. Here are four signs that you should make an appointment with a gastroenterologist:
1. Persistent Upset Stomach
Everyone experiences an upset stomach from time to time. When you eat something that doesn't agree with you, your stomach may feel uneasy for a few hours. However, a persistent upset stomach is a cause for concern. A chronic condition like irritable bowel syndrome may be to blame, or you may have a food intolerance. A gastroenterologist can perform diagnostic tests to tell you more. Keep a food log to show your stomach doctor. It's helpful to know if your symptoms correspond with ingesting particular foods.
2. Chronic Heartburn
Chronic heartburn can be another sign of a serious stomach condition. Acid reflux occurs when your stomach acid travels up your esophagus. This can occur when one of the valves leading to your stomach doesn't close properly. If you experience heartburn on a daily basis, you should make an appointment with a gastroenterologist. Untreated acid reflux can damage your esophagus over time, so prompt treatment is important. A gastroenterologist can prescribe medication to relieve your symptoms.
Diarrhea is the term for watery stool. When people experience diarrhea, they often feel an urgent need to use the restroom. Occasional diarrhea can be caused by food poisoning. Chronic diarrhea may be caused by the side effects of certain medications or a serious stomach condition. A gastroenterologist will consider all of your symptoms when making a diagnosis. They may suggest an elimination diet to help you remove foods that don't agree with your stomach from your diet.
4. Bleeding In Your Digestive Tract
If you're experiencing digestive tract bleeding, there may be a serious underlying cause. Taking too much of certain medications, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, can cause stomach bleeding. Bleeding can also occur in your colon or rectum. The signs of internal bleeding include bloody stool, which may look black if the blood has been digested. Vomiting blood is another common symptom. Mild to moderate bleeding can be assessed by a gastroenterologist. If you're experiencing constant or heavy bleeding, you should go to the emergency room instead.