A gastroenterologist treats conditions of the digestive system. The digestive system is important for breaking down food into nutrients, which your body uses for energy, growth, and cell repair. The digestive system is made up of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, liver, pancreas, and gallbladder.
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Your primary care physician should tell you when you should see a gastroenterologist (GI), but if you have these symptoms then you should consider seeing a gastroenterologist:
There are many ways a gastroenterologist can evaluate your symptoms, ranging from the less invasive breath, blood, urine and stool tests to the more invasive colonoscopy or endoscopy. Your gastroenterologist may also ask you get an MRI or a CT Scan to check for any abnormalities.
When you have symptoms related to the lower part of your digestive system such as constipation, diarrhea, or stomach pain, then your gastroenterologist may choose to perform a colonoscopy. Colonoscopies are also recommended routinely once you reach a certain age or if you have other risk factors. During a colonoscopy the doctor will put a thin, flexible tube with a camera into your rectum to check for any abnormalities. This is a routine procedure with a low complication rate.
When you have symptoms related to the upper part of your digestive system, such as heartburn, difficulty swallowing or nausea, then your gastroenterologist may choose to perform an upper endoscopy. During an upper endoscopy the doctor will put a thin, flexible tube with a camera down your throat to check for any abnormalities in your upper part of your digestive system. This is a routine procedure with a low complication rate.