Do I Really Need to See a Gastroenterologist?


hIt can be tough to know you need to see a gastroenterologist or when a trip to your general practitioner (GP) will suffice. Many people will avoid seeking the care of a GI specialist because they think their symptoms aren’t severe enough or that a person only needs to see a gastroenterologist on specific occasions, such as for a colonoscopy. In fact, gastroenterologists treat a wide range of GI illnesses and symptoms varying in severity.

If you’re wondering if you should see a gastroenterologist, ask yourself the following questions:

Are my symptoms recurring? Are they getting worse?

If your symptoms keep returning or are increasing in frequency, then over-the-counter medications or at-home remedies may not be working. A visit to a gastroenterologist can help determine if you have been correctly diagnosed and what course of action you need to take to get your symptoms under control or cured.

Am I in pain?

If you are in severe pain, you should seek emergency care prior to contacting a gastroenterologist. Severe pain may indicate an underlying health condition that needs immediate care and attention. However, if you are experiencing GI pain that is not severe, a gastroenterologist can help diagnose the cause and provide treatment. GI pain, which can be acute or chronic, may be due to many factors, including heartburn or inflammation.

Do I need a diagnosis?

If your regular GP was unable to provide a diagnosis, he may refer you to a specialist, such as a gastroenterologist. Gastroenterologists are trained and experienced specifically in GI services and care. They are able to provide patients with a higher level of care in regard to GI needs, and they can provide a greater range of treatment options.

Do I need to be screened?

Routine screenings for colon cancer are recommended for anyone age 50 and older. Once you are 50, your GP will begin to advise that you undergo a colonoscopy periodically to screen for any abnormalities that may indicate colon cancer. Colon cancer is one of the few cancers that is highly preventable and can be stopped with early treatment.

If you answered “Yes” to any of the questions above, then a visit with San Francisco Gastroenterology may be the right course of action for you.

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