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What is a Gastroenterologist?

A gastroenterologist is a physician who specializes in disorders and conditions of the gastrointestinal tract.

Gastroenterology is a branch of medicine concerned with digestive diseases. The practice of gastroenterology concentrates on the diagnosis and treatment of diseases involving the esophagus, stomach, small intestine and large intestine (colon), liver, gallbladder, and pancreas.

Gastroenterologists have a thorough understanding of how food moves through the digestive tract (called motility) and the physical and chemical break down of food (digestion), including the absorption of nutrients and the removal of waste products. Gastroenterologists also focus on the digestive function of the liver.

A Gastroenterologist is an internist who specialises in the digestive system.

The digestive system includes the liver, pancreas, gallbladder and a 7.5m long tube that processes food and nutrients. These organs break down and absorb the food we eat so that the nutrients can be transported into the bloodstream and delivered to cells throughout the body. When these organs do not function properly, patients may need to see a Gastroenterologist.

Gastroenterologists listen to your problems related to the digestive system, perform tests to make a diagnosis, answer your questions and prescribe the best course of treatment for the problem.

They often serve as consultants to other physicians and may work in the research field. Gastroenterologists specialize in the evaluation, diagnosis, management, and treatment of the following symptoms and conditions:

* Abdominal pain and discomfort
* Bleeding in the digestive tract
* Cancer (e.g., colorectal cancer, stomach [gastric] cancer, pancreatic cancer, liver cancer)
* Constipation and diarrhea
* Difficulty swallowing
* Diverticular disease and other diseases of the colon (e.g., polyps, irritable bowel syndrome [IBS], colitis, Crohn's disease)
* Gallbladder disease
* Heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
* Hemorrhoids
* Hiatal hernias
* Inflammation in the digestive tract (e.g., gastritis)
* Liver disease (e.g., hepatitis, jaundice)
* Malabsorption disorders (e.g., celiac disease, lactose intolerance)
* Stomach upset, nausea, vomiting
* Ulcers
* Unexplained weight loss

Here are further guidelines.