A gastroenterology specialist, also known as a gastroenterologist or a GI doctor, is a physician who specializes in the diagnoses, treatment, and prevention of diseases and disorders affecting the entire digestive system—the mouth and salivary glands, esophagus, stomach, small and large intestines, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, and rectum.
If you’re experiencing persistent abdominal pain or cramping, nausea, vomiting, bloody stools, or recurring bouts of diarrhea, you should consider seeing a gastroenterology specialist, as these are possible symptoms of a digestive condition.
Below is a brief outline of a few of the most common digestive conditions treated by a GI specialist.
Gastroesophageal Reflux (GERD)
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic digestive disorder characterized by the persistent backflow of stomach acid into your esophagus. This occurs when your lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the circular band of muscle around the bottom of your esophagus, relaxes or weakens when it’s not supposed to.
Common symptoms of GERD include heartburn, nausea, chest pain, and difficulty breathing.
Your gastroenterology specialist will likely prescribe medications and make lifestyle recommendations to help you manage your symptoms. However, if your case does not respond to conservative interventions, they may recommend anti-reflux surgery.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Crohn’s disease is one of the two major types of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The exact cause of the condition is not entirely clear, but experts attribute it to immune system malfunction, which triggers an abnormal immune response and attacks the lining of your digestive tract, hence the inflammation.
Ulcerative colitis—unlike Crohn’s disease which can affect your entire digestive tract— attacks the innermost lining of your colon and rectum, causing inflammation and sores to develop.
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis can share symptoms, such as fatigue, chronic diarrhea, loss of appetite, bloody stools, and abdominal pain.
Your GI specialist will perform various tests to determine which type of IBD you have. To provide symptom relief and reduce the risks of complications, your GI specialist will prescribe medications and supplements. They may recommend surgery if your symptoms are not alleviated with pharmacological interventions.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic digestive disorder that affects the large intestine (colon). The exact cause of IBS remains unclear, but research suggests that it is most likely triggered by a combination of various factors, such as altered bowel motility, infection, and hormonal imbalance.
People with mild to moderate cases of IBS typically experience abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. Those with severe cases, however, likely experience a different set of symptoms, which include rectal bleeding, difficulty swallowing, weight loss, and iron-deficiency anemia.
If you are experiencing symptoms of severe IBS as those mentioned above, you should see your gastroenterology specialist, so they can perform a thorough evaluation to rule out other serious conditions, such as colon cancer.
To treat your IBS, your GI specialist will prescribe medications and supplements (e.g., fiber supplements, pain medications, and antidepressants) and recommend that you make changes to your lifestyle as well as eliminate certain foods from your diet (e.g., high-gas foods and those that contain gluten).
Gallstones are solid particles of bile that form in your gallbladder— a small organ located in your upper right abdomen, right below your liver. Gallstones vary in size and composition and comes in two types: cholesterol stones, which develop when the bile gets supersaturated with cholesterol; and pigment stones, which form after red blood cells are destroyed.
Gallstones often do not present symptoms and therefore do not require treatment. If you do have symptoms, your gastroenterology specialist will either prescribe medications or cholecystectomy, to surgically remove your whole gallbladder to prevent the gallstones from recurring. If you’re not qualified to undergo surgery, your Gi specialist will put you on a course of medication, which can last months or years, to attempt to completely dissolve your gallstones.
Gastroenterology Specialist in Westlake and Brooklyn, OH
At North Shore Gastroenterology in Westlake and Brooklyn, Ohio, our board-certified gastroenterology specialists are all committed to providing comprehensive care for patients of all ages. We take pride in our comprehensive suite of on-site diagnostic and treatment services—which include colonoscopy, endoscopy, and colon cancer screening— which allows our patients to have all of their needs taken care of under one roof.
Give us a call at (440) 808-1212, or use our request an appointment form to arrange a consultation. We look forward to serving you!