Gastroenterologist Frequently Asked Questions
What is a gastroenterologist?
Gastroenterologists (GIs) are physicians that specialize in treating your gastrointestinal (GI) health needs.
Your GI tract includes your mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum, and anus.
A GI physician is licensed to diagnose and treat common syndromes such as:
GI specialists also perform diagnostic procedures such as:
GI specialists can perform the following procedures:
- endoscopic ultrasound to look inside your GI tract
- colonoscopy to look at your large intestine (colon)
- endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
- sigmoidoscopy to look at a specific part of your colon called the sigmoid colon
- liver biopsy to take a tissue sample of your liver for diagnosis or testing
- double balloon enteroscopy to inflate inside your GI tract to get a better look
- pancreas scan to check for pancreas abnormalities or conditions
- liver scan to check for liver abnormalities
This isn't an exhaustive list. Get in touch with your local GI specialist to learn more about their full range of services.
GI specialists may treat the following conditions:
- stomach ulcers and mouth ulcers
- irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- ulcerative colitis and other inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD)
- acid reflux
- jaundice, or a yellowing of the skin
- hepatitis C
- growths called colorectal polyps found in the large intestine
- pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas from an underlying condition
- colon cancer
This list of conditions isn't exhaustive, either. Talk to a GI specialist for more information on getting a GI condition diagnosed and treated.
Here are some examples of both general and specific questions to ask a GI specialist during your appointment:
- How old should I be when I start getting colonoscopies?
- What should I do if I feel a lump or hardness in my gut?
- Why haven't I pooped for so long? It's been X days.
- I've had a stomachache/stomach pain for X days or months. What should I do?
- Why am I having trouble swallowing?
- I have blood in my poop. What should I do?
- Why am I having acid in my throat whenever I eat?
- Why do I feel like I suddenly have to poop when I eat certain things?
- Do you know why I'm having these symptoms?
- Do you think I have IBS? Could it be another condition?
- Now that you've examined me, what's the next step? Should I take any diagnostic tests or get blood work done?
- What kind of results can I expect from a GI-related test?
- What treatments are available for my symptoms or my condition?
- How will I know if treatments are working? When should I stop one treatment and start another?
- Are there any side effects of treatments that I should be aware of when I start treatment or medications? How can I minimize my risk of side effects or complications?
- Is there anything I'm doing or eating that might be causing symptoms? Are there any changes I could make that would help?
- What can I do to manage my condition?
- Can my condition be cured? Or will I need to manage it?