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What is a Gastroenterologist, Why do I Need One, and How Can I Find a Good One?

Rachel Morrell

What is a Gastroenterologist, Why do I Need One, and How Can I Find a Good One?

There are many specialists that your primary care physician may refer you to, and one of them is a gastroenterologist. A gastroenterologist (GI) is a doctor who specializes in the management of the gastrointestinal tract and liver, and treats diseases of the:

  • Stomach
  • Small intestine
  • Colon
  • Rectum
  • Pancreas
  • Gallbladder
  • Bile duct

There are two main reasons that you may want to visit a gastroenterologist.

1. You have no digestive problems but you need a colonoscopy.

If you are 50 years of age or older, you should be screened for colon cancer. Colon cancer can affect anyone, but age is one of the risk factors for the disease. After age 50 (or age 45 if you are African American), your risk of developing colon cancer increases.

Your primary care physician will suggest that you make an appointment with a gastroenterologist to have a colonoscopy, a visual inspection of your gastrointestinal tract for precancerous polyps. If your gastroenterologist finds any polyps in your screening, he or she will remove the polyps so they cannot develop into cancer.

Other risk factors may make you eligible for a colonoscopy at an earlier age. These factors may include a family history or personal history of colon polyps or colon cancer, inflammatory bowel disease or diabetes.

2. You are experiencing digestive problems.

If you are experiencing digestive symptoms including, but not limited to, heartburn, reflux, abdominal cramping, blood in the stool, weight loss, fatigue or change in bowel habits, you should visit a gastroenterologist.

Your symptoms may prove to be benign, but your gastroenterologist will perform an exam and run any necessary tests to rule out common digestive conditions and diseases.

Now that you know what a gastroenterologist is, let’s make sure that you know how to find one in your area.

You can be connected with a gastroenterologist by using our Find a Center tool. Simply click on your state, and a list of our gastroenterology centers will appear at the bottom of the screen. Choose the center that is closest to your home and call them today for an appointment. You will be matched with a gastroenterologist who specializes in your specific digestive issue. It only takes a minute of your time, so get started by clicking here.

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