What does a gastroenterologist treat?

As with other medical specialties, a visit to a gastroenterologist ususally starts with a visit to your family doctor.

If you complain to your doctor of symptoms affecting the digestive system, such as abdominal pain, frequent nausea, or heartburn, he may initially begin treatment to prevent the symptoms from worsening. Before offering treatment, you will receive a physical examination and in some cases specialized tests, such as an abdominal scan or blood tests. Often, this may be enough to pinpoint and completely alleviate the condition. If your doctor suspects that a disease or syndrome is causing your symptoms or if the cause of your symptoms cannot be found, you will be referred to a gastroenterology clinic or a gastroenterologist. People with chronic diseases, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or Chron's may be sent directly to a gastroenterology clinic for initial testing and treatment.

Dr. Maheshwari, gastroenterology specialist at the Center for Digestive Diseases near Houston, Texas says "I see patients on a daily basis for acid reflux, abdominal pain and colon screenings. The most common chronic disease that I treat patients for is Chron's disease." Crohn's disease is a digestive disorder that causes inflammation in the intestines. This leads to chronic pain, weight loss, and diarrhea.

A gastroenterology specialist can diagnose, treat and prevent the development of many of these diseases.

  • Approximately 20 percent of the U.S. population suffers from acid reflux.
  • As of last count in 2004, more than 1.8 million prescriptions were written annually to treat Crohn's disease.

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Crohn’s disease: The basics

Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes chronic inflammation of the GI tract, leading to such symptoms as diarrhea, fever and weight loss. It typically has an onset between the ages of 13 and 30. The cause of the disease is not known.

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