If you have a digestive issue that isn’t improving with over-the-counter medications, then it is in your best interest to have an evaluation by a skilled gastroenterologist. A gastroenterologist, or GI doctor, is a physician who diagnoses, prevents, and treats diseases and disorders of your digestive tract and related organs.
Let’s talk about some of the key reasons why you would need to see a gastroenterologist, and where you can go throughout California for top-notch gastroenterology care.
Reason #1: You Have Frequent Heartburn that Isn’t Responding to Nonprescription Treatment
Heartburn is a burning pain in your chest that happens when stomach acid flows backwards (upward) into your esophagus – the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach. Experiencing heartburn now and then is not a huge concern and can be managed at home.
However, if you feel heartburn more than twice a week and it is not going away with over-the-counter medications, or if your heartburn often keeps you up at night, it could be a sign of a more severe problem like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD warrants medical treatment in order to prevent it from developing into a potentially life-threatening issue, such as esophageal cancer.
Reason #2: You Have Food Sensitivities
If you experience severe bloating, diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting, or other issues after consuming certain foods or dairy products, you might have food allergies or lactose intolerance. Your gastroenterologist will likely test you for lactose intolerance and food allergies and devise a treatment plan for you, which might include taking dietary supplements and removing certain foods from your diet.
A big mistake people often make is to self-diagnose this issue, which just makes it continue and worsen. Your GI doctor will give you a firm diagnosis and explain your treatment options, which often include avoiding specific foods or types of food.
Reason #3: You Have Unusual Abdominal Pain
A sudden pain in the right side of your abdomen that doesn’t go away within 4-5 hours can be indicative of a gallstone. These are small, hard pellets in your gallbladder whose size can range from a small grain of sand to a golf ball. This pain can subside when gallstones move. In addition to pain, other symptoms of gallstones include a low-grade fever, chills, sweating, clay-colored stools, and yellowish color of the skin and whites of eyes.
Abdominal pain in the right side of your torso can also indicate appendicitis, which can be fatal if not addressed by a knowledgeable gastroenterologist.
Abdominal pain can also be caused by a stomach virus, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD, which is usually either Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis), or a hernia.
Reason #4: You Have Rectal Bleeding or Blood in Your Stool
Experiencing rectal bleeding isn’t normal and could signify the presence of ulcers, polyps, hemorrhoids, inflammatory bowel disease, or colorectal cancer. If you notice blood in your stool or are having stool that is maroon or black in color, with a tar-like appearance, visit your gastroenterologist right away. The gastroenterologist will pinpoint the cause of the rectal bleeding or tarry stool and explain your treatment options.
Reason #5: You Feel Unusual Bloating with Abdominal Pain
Frequent abdominal bloating can be indicative of certain digestive conditions like ulcers, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, functional gastrointestinal disorder, or giardiasis. See a gastroenterologist right away if the bloating is painful, persists for more than a week, gets worse with time, or is accompanied by fever, vomiting, or bleeding.
Similarly, intense abdominal pain that comes on suddenly and lasts for hours could be a sign of pancreatitis, liver disease, or gallstones. Your gastroenterologist will determine the root cause of the problem and give you treatment options.
Trusted Gastroenterologists in California
If you are suffering from any GI issue that is not going away with over-the-counter medication and other home remedies, consider visiting our board-certified, fellowship-trained gastroenterologists at inSite Digestive Health Care. Our gastroenterologists take pride in providing high-quality gastrointestinal care to countless patients across California.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment with expert gastroenterologist Dr. Benedict Garrett in Burbank, California, call our office near you or fill out our appointment request form online now. We look forward to being your GI specialists!