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When to Visit a Gastrointestinal Specialist

There are a number of triggers that lead one to scheduling an appointment with a gastroenterologist (i.e., a digestive disease specialist):

  • Bloating

  • Unusual pain

  • Frequent heartburn

  • Abnormal bowel movements

  • Difficulty swallowing

  • Being 50+ years of age

Your primary care doctor may instruct you to visit a gastroenterologist, or you may decide to schedule an appointment on your own. Northeastern Gastroenterology Associates in Honesdale, Blakey, and Dingmans Ferry can provide you with the gastrointestinal care you need. Learn more about the conditions we specialize in treating and contact us today if you have any questions.

**Read about our new telehealth services here.**

What Does a Gastroenterologist Do?

Gastroenterologists are digestive health specialists who work to diagnose and treat issues related to the stomach, esophagus, intestines, and bowels — along with other organs that relate to the digestive system. Before the food you eat gets excreted out the other side of your digestive system, a lot happens to it. Your pancreas, liver, and stomach all play roles in the digestive process. We all experience some variability in our digestive processes, caused by things such as new foods, stress, or medications. However, some symptoms indicate there is something more serious happening that should be checked out by a GI doctor.

Any time you start experiencing new symptoms, particularly when they are chronic, it’s a good idea to get them evaluated. Adults and children who experience any of these symptoms should schedule an appointment with a GI doctor:

  • Ongoing constipation

  • Regularly feeling sick and throwing up

  • Stomach pain

  • Chronic diarrhea

  • Blood in one’s stool

  • Chronic heartburn

  • Trouble swallowing

Also, if you are over the age of 50 (or even 45, as recommended by the American Cancer Society, who changed its colorectal cancer screening guidelines in 2018) your risk of colorectal cancer is high enough that it’s worth going in for a routine colonoscopy to check for any signs of cancerous tissue.

4 Signs It’s Time to See a Gastroenterology Specialist

We touched upon a few cases, but how do you draw the line between serious digestive health conditions and symptoms that warrant time and some over-the-counter digestive aids? Here are some of the signs and conditions that indicate you should take your digestive system issue more seriously and visit a gastroenterology specialist:

  • Bloody stool — It can be frightening seeing blood in your stool after a bowel movement. Bright red is much less to worry about than black. Fresh, red blood may be from hemorrhoids, while black blood is more likely to be a sign of some deeper damage that has occurred further into your digestive system. If you have recurrent symptoms of rectal bleeding or other associated symptoms, schedule an evaluation with a gastroenterologist.

  • Hemorrhoids — Hemorrhoids pose no threat to your life, but serious and chronic cases can certainly ruin your day(s). External hemorrhoids are typically simple and straightforward to treat, while internal ones tend to be more challenging. GI doctors may treat your internal hemorrhoids during colonoscopies.

  • Excessive gas — Gas is normal, but if it is accompanied with abdominal discomfort, extremely bad smells, unexplained weight loss, or change in bowel habits (i.e., constipation or diarrhea), you may want to get that checked out, as it could be a sign of something more serious going wrong in your digestive system.

  • Lump in your throat — Sore throats are common, but a lump in your throat that is not also accompanied by other flu or cold symptoms could be a sign of some digestive problem. In particular, if you suffer pain when swallowing liquids, you should schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist. It could be something minor, but it could also be something serious — such as esophageal cancer.

Common Conditions We Treat

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)/Heartburn — If you have been having frequent heartburn for longer than six months and proton pump inhibitors (PPI) are not providing relief, it may be a good idea to schedule an appointment to get started with treatment for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Ask your primary care physician if visiting a gastroenterologist would be appropriate for your condition.

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) — IBS doesn’t cause any permanent damage or transform into some other more serious disease. However, it can be inconvenient and uncomfortable, calling for a number of lifestyle changes. See your doctor if you are seeing any of these signs of IBS:

    • Bloating

    • Cramping

    • Abdominal pain

    • Diarrhea

    • Constipation

  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) — IBD is a generic name for a group of different diseases that cause inflammation in the intestines. Two major types of inflammatory bowel disease are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Crohn’s disease can involve inflammation of any part of the gastrointestinal tract, while ulcerative colitis is limited to the colon and large intestine.

  • Celiac disease — Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that makes your body incapable of processing gluten, as found it wheat, barley, and rye. This disease can be diagnosed with a simple blood test. Symptoms of celiac disease include:

    • Gas

    • Fatigue

    • Stomach pain

    • Weight loss

    • Rashes and blisters

    • Diarrhea

Schedule a Colon Cancer Screening in Honesdale

One of the most important, regular procedures a gastroenterologist conducts is a colon cancer screening. Getting a colonoscopy every 10 years is recommended, starting at the age of 45 or 50. More regular screenings may be recommended if you have a family history of colon issues. No matter what digestive issues you are dealing with, our providers and staff are here to help. If you are in Honesdale, Blakey, or Dingmans Ferry and would like to schedule an appointment with a gastroenterology specialist, contact Northeastern Gastroenterology Associates today.

**Learn about our new telehealth services here.**