When Should I See a GI Doctor?
Everyone needs to see a gastroenterologist at some point. Yes, everyone. Whether you have digestive symptoms or not, a trip to the gastroenterologist could save your life.
Life-Saving Colorectal Cancer Screenings
The American Cancer Society recommends life-saving colorectal cancer screenings for everyone beginning at age 45, or sooner if you are at high risk. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, check with your primary care physician about when you should begin screening. Approximately 1 in 23 men and 1 in 25 women will develop colorectal cancer, so you need to get screened regularly. During a screening colonoscopy, a gastroenterologist can remove any precancerous polyps they see, effectively preventing cancer before it has a chance to develop.
Besides colorectal cancer screenings, you know that gastroenterologists treat issues related to your stomach and intestines. But did you know that your gastrointestinal tract actually consists of your esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum, anus, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, and bile ducts?
Gastroenterologists deal with just about any part of the body that processes food, whether they pull out nutrients or get rid of the waste.
Unpleasant Digestive Symptoms
If you are experiencing unpleasant digestive symptoms, we understand that it might be awkward to discuss your painful constipation or excess flatulence with a stranger. Sometimes, an uncomfortable conversation can save you weeks, months, or years of suffering!
Persistent or Severe Digestive Symptoms
Any persistent or severe digestive symptoms should be checked out by a GI specialist. That means if you’ve had digestive upset for 2 weeks or more, or if it significantly interrupts your day, make an appointment. If you’re experiencing bleeding, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes), difficulty swallowing, or unexpected weight loss, it’s important that you see a gastroenterologist as soon as possible.
Get a Referral
You may need a referral from your primary care doctor in order to see a gastroenterologist. Check with your insurance provider to see if you need a referral before making an appointment with a specialist. If your primary care physician has diagnosed you with a chronic digestive disorder, such as GERD or IBS, but he/she has not referred you to a gastroenterologist, you can still ask for a referral. A board-certified gastroenterologist is likely to be more knowledgeable and better equipped to manage your health care.
If you have troublesome digestive symptoms, need a screening colonoscopy, or have a chronic GI condition, reach out to us today to schedule an appointment with a fellowship-trained gastroenterologist!