If you need to see a gastroenterologist, you might not know what to expect if you’ve never seen one before. Gastroenterologists specialize in the digestive system, including the liver, colon, bile ducts, gallbladder, pancreas, rectum, small intestine, stomach, and esophagus, and are experts in their function and diseases. If you’ve been referred to a gastroenterologist, you likely have symptoms that suggest you may have a health condition related to one of these bodily structures. Gastroenterologists can assist in the management and treatment of these conditions, significantly improving the quality of life and health of patients.
Here is what to expect at your first appointment.
Why Was I Referred to a Gastroenterologist?
Doctors may need to refer patients to specialists in certain situations. If a doctor suspects that a problem with the digestive system is causing a patient’s symptoms, they may be referred to a gastroenterologist.
Symptoms of such problems can vary, however, they may include the following:
- Stomach discomfort
- Nausea and vomiting
The gastroenterologist will assess the patient and, if necessary, provide treatment and management recommendations.
What Conditions Do Gastroenterologists Treat?
Gastroenterologists help with the diagnosis, treatment, and management of a wide range of disorders, including:
- Colon polyps
- Colon cancer
- Celiac disease
- Gastro esophageal reflux (GERD)
- Gallbladder disease
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Preparing for Your First Appointment
During your first appointment, your gastroenterologist will ask you about your medical history, symptoms, and any recent treatments you’ve received. They will also review your diet and all medications/supplements you take.
If necessary, they may recommend tests or procedures based on the reason for your appointment. An endoscopy, a colonoscopy, or a barium swallow are examples of these tests.
In order to improve the effectiveness of your appointment, make a list of your symptoms and other details before your appointment to share with the doctor. Examples of things to document include:
- The length of time you’ve been in pain or discomfort
- The areas of your body that are most affected by pain and discomfort
- Recent lifestyle changes
- Recent bowel movement changes
- Rapid or unexplained weight loss in the previous year
- Any other medical diseases you’ve been diagnosed with, as well as any medications you’re taking
- Any other health changes you’ve experienced
- Any family history of digestive problems
Following a discussion of your medical history, your gastroenterologist will perform a physical examination that includes:
- Examining the area around your stomach. Your doctor will examine your abdomen for signs of anomalies, such as visible lumps or bulging surgical scars.
- Listening for bowel noises or bruits in each abdominal quadrant (vascular sounds linked with turbulent blood flow).The duration, tone, and intensity of the sounds will be recorded by your doctor.
- Feeling the four quadrants of your stomach. This is done to check for lumps or discomfort. You may be asked to take a deep breath or cough, or to describe if palpation causes pain.
- Examination of the rectal cavity. Bulges, lumps, inflammatory symptoms, and muscle tone will be felt by your gastroenterologist.
Additional Diagnostic Tests
Following a physical examination, your doctor may request that you undergo additional testing to rule out other possible conditions. These tests may include:
- CT scan
- Blood or stool exam
- Enema or barium swallow
- Endoscopy of the upper gastrointestinal tract
In most cases, these tests are prescribed during the initial appointment and take place in follow-up appointments.
Top-Notch Gastroenterologists in California
For some people, seeing a gastroenterologist for the first time might be nerve-wracking. To make the most of your visit, you should prepare ahead of time. It’s also crucial to speak with a provider that prioritizes quality and safety and can provide individualized treatment.
At inSite Digestive Health Care, we are committed to providing you with the cost-effective and high-quality treatment you deserve. You are welcome to come to any of our offices in California. You may also choose the appropriate gastroenterologist for you and book an appointment online. We are excited to serve you!