It involves the whole pathway that food takes from the plate to the toilet. Medical doctors who specialise in this field are called gastroenterologists
Common Conditions In Gastroenterology
Gastroenterologists come across many different conditions in their line of work. Here are a few you might have heard of:
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a long-term condition that involves stomach acid flowing back into the oesophagus, resulting in heartburn.
Peptic ulcers are sores on the lining of the stomach or the first part of the small intestine.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) includes conditions like Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. They're long-term conditions that cause inflammation in the digestive tract, leading to symptoms like abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and weight loss.
Conditions that affect your gallbladder and biliary tract, liver diseases, and even pancreatic diseases all fall under the umbrella of gastroenterology.
The Role Of Blood Tests In Stomach Health
Did you know blood tests can help identify what's going on in your stomach? They are a useful tool for doctors to diagnose conditions affecting our digestive system.
These tests range from Complete Blood Count (CBC) and Liver function tests to checks for elevated levels of amylase and lipase enzymes, albumin level assessments, and even tests for Celiac disease and the Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) antibody.
Blood tests are often used alongside other tests like imaging, endoscopies, and a review of your medical history.
Spotting Signs Of Gastrointestinal Problems
Gastrointestinal problems can show up in many of different ways, depending on what's wrong and how severe it is.
Common symptoms to look out for include:
- Abdominal Pain and discomfort
- Changes in bowel habits
- Bloating and gas
- Heartburn and acid reflux
- Nausea and vomiting
- Unexplained weight loss
- Blood in the stool
- Difficulty swallowing
- Jaundice (yellowing of your skin and eyes)
When Might You Need A Gastroenterologist?
If your primary care doctor feels your symptoms might need a specialist's opinion to pinpoint and treat the problem, they'll probably recommend you to a gastroenterologist.
Frequently Asked Questions
No, not always. It depends on the procedure. Some procedures require just light sedation, while others might need general anaesthesia. It's all about making sure you're as comfortable as possible.
No, not all of them are life-threatening. While some can be serious if they're not treated, many can be managed effectively with the right medical care and changes to your lifestyle.