There could be many reasons you should consult a gastroenterologist, or a digestion doctor, if you are experiencing abnormal symptoms. While many may associate a gastroenterologist with being just a stomach doctor, keep in mind that these specialists help treat conditions for many different areas of your body. Symptoms affecting anywhere from your esophagus all the way down to your rectum may be treated by a gastroenterologist.

So how can a digestive doctor help you? Consider your symptoms and how you should seek the appropriate medical care.

You’re experiencing constipation

The rule of thumb is that less than three bowel movements a week indicate constipation. If you are affected by constipation, it could mean a serious digestive issue is causing it. Constipation can most often affect older people, people who are dehydrated, or have diets that are low in fiber.

You experience diarrhea

The opposite of constipation, diarrhea is too many bowel movement that aren’t solid. This, too, can indicate an issue with your digestion. You may feel cramps in your stomach or notice watery stools when you use the restroom. It’s important to note that although common, having regularly-occurring diarrhea could indicate a more serious underlying condition, like Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Consistent heartburn

While heartburn is fairly common, consistent heartburn is the sign of a larger issue like acid reflux, or GERD.

You suspect you have gallstones

If you have stomach pain, gallstones, or hardened buildup of the digestive fluid that breaks down your food, could be the culprit. Sometimes the pain can last hours, but most that experience this pain report that it can come on suddenly and intensely. If this pain is consistently severe, you should seek out a gastroenterologist, because you might need to have your gallbladder removed.

To schedule a colonoscopy

You don’t need to have symptoms to see a gastroenterologist! A digestion doctor can also help you stay on top of your colonoscopy exams, which you should be having done every 5-10 years if you’re over the age of 50.

Cancer screenings

After a certain age, older adults should make a habit of screening for cancer that could affect your digestive tract. This means screenings for colorectal cancer, intestinal cancer, and beyond.

You suspect you have an ulcer

An ulcer, otherwise known as open sores in your stomach and intestine, can manifest with burning stomach pain. Basically, any time you eat, the acid that would break down the food is what causes you pain. If antacids aren’t doing the trick, it’s time to see a specialist.

Your diet is causing bloating

If you are consistently feeling bloated after eating, or even experiencing pain, it could be something in your diet that is causing it.  Do you get a stomachache after drinking milk? A gastroenterologist would be able to pinpoint the cause.


When the veins in your rectum become irritated, they swell. This is where hemorrhoids come from. It is also a fairly common issue, and a specialist should be able to treat it quickly and easily.

Blood in stool

Blood in the stool is often a serious sign that something isn’t right. If you notice any rectal bleeding or blood in your stool, seek out a doctor that specializes in digestion, or ask for a referral from your primary care doctor.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, or just need to schedule an appointment, call (717) 245-2228. The experienced physicians and staff at US Digestive Health are here for you.