If you’re experiencing uncomfortable digestive symptoms like bloating, heartburn, or bowel changes, it may be time to seek the help of a CT GI specialist. With these symptoms, your primary care doctor may refer you to a GI specialist, also known as a gastroenterologist. A GI specialist is a medical professional who specializes in diagnosing and treating disorders of the gastrointestinal tract.
When a Connecticut GI Specialist is Needed
While occasional bloating or gas doesn’t warrant a trip to the gastroenterologist, sudden and/or frequent changes in your digestive system may. As a first step, you should contact your primary care doctor for a referral to a qualified GI specialist if you notice any of the following changes in your health:
- Bleeding from the rectum
- Bowel incontinence/leakage
- Dark urine
- Esophageal pain
- Excessive gas or belching
- Frequentabdominal pain
- Frequent bloating
- Frequent diarrhea or constipation
- Frequent nausea/vomiting
- Heartburn (acid reflux)
- Loss of appetite
- Pale-colored stools
- Unexplained weight loss
If your primary care provider suspects symptoms of a gastrointestinal illness, they may recommend you see a gastroenterologist for additional testing and more specialized care.
Common Conditions a GI specialist Treats
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
GERD occurs when stomach contents frequently come back up the esophagus. While heartburn and regurgitating stomach acid are the main symptoms, other signs of GERD include a hoarse voice, trouble swallowing, or dry cough.
Peptic Ulcer Disease
Peptic ulcers form when stomach acids damage the walls of the stomach or part of the small intestine, forming open sores called ulcers. The most common symptom of a peptic ulcer is a “burning” sensation in the abdomen, worsened on an empty stomach. Other symptoms may include nausea, weight loss, or dark, tarry stools.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
Inflammatory bowel disease is an umbrella term for disorders involving high levels of inflammation within the digestive tract. Two of the most common inflammatory bowel diseases are ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Ulcerative colitis involves chronic inflammation and ulcers within the large intestine, while Crohn’s disease causes the digestive tract to become swollen and irritated.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks the digestive system as a response to consuming gluten, a protein found in wheat and other grains. After eating food containing gluten, those with celiac disease may experience bloating, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, and abdominal pain. Untreated celiac disease can lead to weight loss and malnourishment.
Gallbladder Disease and Biliary Tract Disorders
Chronic abdominal pain beneath the right ribs, especially after consuming foods high in fat, can signify an issue with the gallbladder, bile ducts, and surrounding structures. Gallbladder disease includes inflammation, infections, gallbladder stones, or blockages that affect the flow of bile through the bile ducts. Other common signs of gallbladder issues include nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice, or dark urine.
Liver diseases can originate from a virus, drugs, toxins, poor diet, or alcoholism. Examples of virus-born liver disease include hepatitis A, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C. Liver disease such as fatty liver or cirrhosis can develop as a result of obesity or long-term alcohol abuse. Common signs of various liver diseases include yellowing of the sign and eyes (jaundice), leg or ankle swelling, itchiness, dark urine, nausea and vomiting, pale bowel movements, and fatigue.
Pancreatic issues include pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, and more. One of the most common pancreatic disorders, pancreatitis, involves inflammation of the pancreas. Pancreatic cancer, on the other hand, involves malignant cancer cells within the pancreas. Symptoms of either include abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting, fever and chills, shortness of breath, and jaundice— a gastroenterologist can help narrow down the cause.
Gastrointestinal cancers involve malignant cancer cells along any area of the digestive tract. Examples include:
- Anal cancer
- Bile duct cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Gallbladder cancer
- Gastrointestinal stromal tumors
- Liver cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Rectal cancer
- Small intestine cancer
- Stomach (gastric) cancer
Common signs of gastrointestinal cancers are often other gastrointestinal conditions such as peptic ulcers, GERD, nausea/vomiting and more. A qualified GI doctor can help identify and treat different types of gastrointestinal cancers.
Bleeding within the gastrointestinal tract can originate from hemorrhoids, ulcers, esophageal inflammation, inflammatory bowel disorders, cancer, and more. Common signs include blood in stools, dark-colored stools, blood in vomit, abdominal cramps, dizziness, paleness, and fatigue. GI bleeds always warrant a trip to a qualified gastroenterologist who can determine the cause of bleeding.
Where to Seek a Connecticut GI Specialist
If you suspect a gastrointestinal issue, ask your primary care provider for a referral to a CT GI specialist who can help identify the problem and any necessary treatment. AT PACT Gastroenterology Center in Connecticut, our dedicated GI doctors provide state-of-the-art, patient-first medical care in a warm and caring environment. Our physicians diagnose and treat all of the above conditions, and more, with a dedication to compassionate, skilled patient care.
Reach out today to ask us a question or to book an appointment with one of our specialists.
Learn More About PACT
Physicians Alliance of Connecticut (PACT) is a multi-specialty medical group that is led and operated by over 30 physician partners and more than 100 healthcare providers. We are committed to healthcare excellence, innovation, safety, and quality in private-practice patient care in the New Haven area of Connecticut.