Gastroenterology is an important branch of medical science. This sphere of medicine largely focuses on the overall health of the digestive system, or the gastrointestinal tract of the body. The gastrointestinal tract basically includes the organs of the body from the mouth to the anus, which lies along the alimentary canal. Mark Swaim MD PhD points out that gastroenterology deals with a plethora of medical conditions, ranging from irritable bowel movement syndrome to hepatitis C. Dr. Swaim works with Duke University’s Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Department of Medicine, Durham, NC. His extensive knowledge and expertise in the domain of gastroenterology make him an ideal candidate to shed more light on it.
The medical professionals who specialize in diagnosing and treating ailments related to the gastrointestinal tract are referred to as gastroenterologists. These physicians are usually able to perform various endoscopic procedures, with the help of which they view the gastrointestinal tract, so as to make an accurate diagnosis. Mark Swaim MD PhD mentions that gastroenterologists may also commonly perform therapeutic and diagnostic procedures like colonoscopy, endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), endoscopic ultrasound, and liver biopsy.
In addition to gastroenterologists that provide general treatment of the various ailments related to the gastrointestinal tract, there also are specialized medical practitioners who expertise in a certain type of gastroenterology. Their specializations may be related to reflux esophagitis, inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatic disease, gastrointestinal cancer, etc.
There are several types of ailments and diseases that might cause complications in the digestion process. Consistently high pain in the abdomen, as well as diarrhea and gas, may indicate the presence of a gastroenterological disorder. Mark Swaim MD PhD points out that for the proper diagnosis of such symptoms, it is important that people consult an experienced gastroenterologist at once.
Here are a few of the symptoms after facing which people should definitely consult a good gastroenterologist:
- Heartburn: This basically is a feeling of pain or burning that can be felt in the chest or the throat, and tends to occur when the acid from the stomach backs up into the esophagus. Heartburn is often caused due to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
- Negative reaction to dairy products: Experiencing uncomfortable symptoms after consuming any dairy product may be a symptom of lactose intolerance.
- Excruciating abdomen pain: Extreme abdominal pain, especially on its right side, might be due to the presence of gallstones.
- Blood in the stool: The causes of rectal bleeding can vary in severity, but it generally means that there is bleeding somewhere in the digestive tract of a person. This might be an indication of a major condition like cancer as well.
Mark Swaim MD PhD underlines that people should always prioritize visiting a good gastroenterologist in case they face any difficulties with their digestion process. Timely treatment of gastrointestinal disorders is vital to ensure the overall good health and well-being of a person.