What is a Gastroenterologist?
What Does a Gastroenterologist Do?
A gastroenterologist is a physician who specializes in the health of the digestive system. They are highly trained specialists. After medical school, they have an additional six years of training in internal medicine and gastroenterology.
Your gastrointestinal (GI) tract includes all the organs that help digest food and liquids. You might be surprised to know how many organs that involves!
You might go to a gastroenterologist for health concerns with your:
- Small intestine
- Large intestine
- Bile ducts
Although the mouth is also a part of the gastrointestinal (GI) system, dentists and dental specialists are the doctors who treat problems related to the oral cavity.
While treating you, they may also work with other specialists – like oncologists, radiologists, and primary care physicians — to help address your individual needs.
What Does a Gastroenterologist Treat?
Because they treat the entire GI system, gastroenterologists treat conditions that affect how your system:
- Digests and moves food
- Absorbs nutrients
- Removes waste from your body
Common conditions gastroenterologists treat include:
- Abdominal pain
- Celiac disease
- Crohn’s disease
- Fatty liver disease
- Gas and bloating
- Acid reflux (gastroesophageal reflux/GERD)
- Hepatitis C
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Liver cirrhosis
- Ulcerative colitis
- Colon polyps that may turn into cancer
You would also see a gastroenterologist for a routine screening colonoscopy.
What Does a Gastroenterologist Do on Your First Visit?
It’s common to feel nervous going to the gastroenterologist for the first time. Many people feel uncomfortable talking about their digestive organs or problems. Your first visit may last anywhere between 15 and 60 minutes depending on your concerns. You’ll discuss your symptoms, history, and treatments you’ve already tried.
Our staff will walk you through every step of the appointment and will do their best to help you feel as comfortable as possible.
Before you go:
- Start a journal of your symptoms, noting when you experience them and for how long
- Make a list of questions
- Write down your health history (if your gastroenterologist doesn’t have access to your electronic medical record)
At your appointment:
- Your nurse will check your blood pressure and heart rate and ask questions about your health and medications
- Your doctor will review your symptoms and history
- Be honest with your doctor, even if you feel awkward sharing personal information
- Your doctor may perform a physical exam to check for things like bowel sounds or tenderness around your belly
- Your doctor may recommend:
- Diagnostic tests or procedures
- Lifestyle changes
- Taking notes can help you remember important information
- Ask questions, especially if you don’t understand something
After your appointment:
- Make any appointments your doctor ordered
- Follow up for your test results
- Follow your treatment for the best results
Preparation takes the mystery out of your gastroenterology appointment and helps you get the most out of your time with your doctor.
How to Choose the Best Gastroenterologist Near You
Most patients choose a gastroenterologist based on their location, availability, and patient testimonials. All gastroenterologists treat a wide range of conditions, so finding the best gastroenterologist is about finding the best fit for you.
At Gastroenterology Consultants of San Antonio, we want you to be comfortable and confident that you’ll get the best treatment in South Texas. Our board-certified and board-eligible gastroenterologists are dedicated to providing the most comprehensive and compassionate care for our patients.
We have twelve offices throughout the San Antonio area, including Live Oak, New Braunfels, Mission Trail, and Bandera.
Book an appointment online or call us at 210-614-1234.