When Should I See a GI Specialist?

A gastroenterologist specializes in conditions and diseases that impact the health and function of the digestive system. If your primary care physician discovers you have new or renewed symptoms involving your digestive organs or processes, you may benefit from seeing a board-certified specialist, who has the diagnostic and treatment expertise to improve your GI health.

Here’s more on when you should see this highly skilled physician.

New or Persistent GI Symptoms

Perhaps you have abdominal pain or heartburn that just does not respond to medication or other interventions recommended by your PCP. Or your bowel movements have changed to frequent bouts of diarrhea or constipation. Unexplained rectal bleeding, inability to swallow properly, abdominal bloating, and jaundiced skin are all warning signs that should be investigated by a gastroenterologist.

Cancer Screening

GI doctors routinely perform colon cancer screening. Colon cancer is a leading cause of death in the United States. The gold standard for screening for colon cancer is colonoscopy. This procedure is done by a GI doctor to check for polyps in the colon, which could potentially become cancerous. If polyps are found, they are removed right then and there.

Additionally, gastroenterologists assess, diagnose, and treat patients for other malignancies of the digestive system, including cancer of the:

  • Esophagus
  • Stomach
  • Liver
  • Pancreas
  • Gallbladder
  • Small intestine
  • Rectum and anus

Chronic Disease Management

Many gastrointestinal conditions are characterized by flare-ups and periods of remission. One of the most notable examples is Crohn’s disease, which involves inflammation of the lining of the GI tract from the stomach to the anus. Pancreatitis, hepatitis, and ulcers are other examples of chronic conditions that require expert ongoing care.

Your gastroenterologist has the sophisticated diagnostic imaging tools, drug therapies, and nutritional knowledge to refine your treatment options for the long term. Also, this doctor can help your PCP coordinate the care you need for other co-existing health conditions.

To Discuss Your Family Medical History

If you and your primary care physician review your family medical history and notice a high risk of digestive health problems, you will benefit from discussing these concerns with a GI specialist – even if you are asymptomatic. For example, research shows that 12 percent of people diagnosed with ulcerative colitis have family members who have some form of irritable bowel disease. Your gastroenterologist may ask you to have some screening assessments and can tell you what signs and symptoms to watch for.

GI conditions that tend to run in families are:

  1. Crohn’s disease
  2. Ulcerative colitis
  3. Irritable bowel disease
  4. Celiac disease (intolerance to gluten)
  5. Colon cancer

Prevention of gastrointestinal diseases and/or careful monitoring of the progress of conditions that are genetically linked can give you peace of mind and help you stay as healthy as possible.

Trusted Gastroenterologists in the State of California

Genensis Healthcare Partners Healthcare is the largest group of gastroenterologists in California. We deliver superior assessments, diagnoses, and treatments for numerous acute and chronic upper and lower GI conditions. With 65 board-certified providers on staff at 30 fully equipped locations, we are ready to help you and your loved ones have the best possible digestive health.

So, contact the location most convenient to your workplace or home. Arrange an in-person consultation with one of our physicians or request a visit online. We look forward to meeting you in person soon.