Physicians who specialize in gastroenterology diagnose and treat the digestive systems of the body. This is a complex field.

Medical practitioners who specialize in the field of gastroenterology diagnose and treat many portions of the body's digestive systems. Gastroenterologists are grouped with the focus of hepatology in order to offer diagnostics, treatment and preventative care for more than just the stomach. There are many organs and body parts that play a part in digestion including the colon, intestine, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, esophagus and stomach. The food that we eat goes through many channels and stages in order to nourish our bodies.

Some of the treatment services these physicians may offer include:

Constipation: Constipation can occur for many different reasons. Diet can be a component as can dehydration and lack of exercise. Function of the rectum and pelvic floor must also be tested for proper workability.

Fecal incontinence: On the other end of the spectrum from constipation is fecal incontinence. Dietary changes or sphincter surgery may help.

Reflux problems and Barrett's esophagus: Monitoring, evaluation and treatment of these problems can be achieved by these doctors.

Pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer: Multiple problems pertaining to the pancreas are tended to by these gastro specialists.

Preventative testing: Endoscopy, colonoscopy, ultrasounds, colonography and more may be done as preventative testing.

Malnutrition guidance: Nutritionists may help to sort out feeding and eating problems which have led to a patient becoming malnourished. Malabsorption may be part of the problem, as well.

Esophageal cancer: Cancer of the esophagus is diagnosed and treated within this arena of health care.

Gastrointestinal cancer: These cancers occur in the stomach, rectum, colon and anus.

Liver problems: Liver transplants may be performed by these physicians.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Inflammatory bowel disease is also referred to as IBS. Medications as well as psychosocial counseling often help sufferers of this malady.

Crohn's disease: Drugs and surgery along with lifestyle alterations can be utilized to help with Crohn's disease. Sufferers can still live an active lifestyle.

Colitis: Ulcerative colitis causes swelling of the large intestine and can be very painful. There is no cure but many ways to make sufferers more comfortable.

Difficulty swallowing: Nerve and muscle problems can make swallowing difficult. Two conditions are called oropharyngeal dysphagia and esophageal dysphagia.

Treatment options in gastroenterology and the digestive centers of the body have increased in recent years due to research and technological advancement. Many procedures are less invasive than in the past due to new techniques.

If a patient is having difficulty in any of the above areas, he or she should seek a consultation with a reputable gastroenterology specialist to find answers. Since these are highly specialized physicians, it will be difficult to get word-of-mouth referrals from your average friend or neighbor. For such a practitioner, asking one's family doctor for professionals that they would recommend is one method of obtaining referrals. Calling one's insurance company to see who is covered on their plan is another good idea. Doctor referral resources are also available online in order to help a new patient pre-screen a physician.

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