by Surela Chakraborty |05 MAY 2018
Drastic lifestyle changes and wrong eating habits are the main culprits behind the new age digestive disorders. With the increasing abdominal disorders, the need for gastroenterologists have become imperative. Let's find out more about the role of a gastroenterologist-
A gastroenterologist is a physician who is specialized in treating the diseases pertaining to the gastrointestinal tract which comprises of the stomach, intestines, esophagus, liver, pancreas, colon and rectum. A gastroenterologist can treat all digestive disorders right from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) to hepatitis C. He or she can perform endoscopic procedures by using specialized instrument to view the GI tract and make a diagnosis. They might work closely with a gastroenterologic surgeon but doesn't perform surgery themselves.
Some gastroenterologist just resolve common digestive disorders in children and adults, while others focus on a particular type or field of gastroenterology. Some of the common fields of gastroenterology are hepatology which focus on the liver, gallbladder, biliary tree and pancreas, pancreatic disease, transplantation, inflammatory bowel disease or inflammation of the digestive tract, gastrointestinal cancer and endoscopic survelliance to name a few.
A gastroenterologist with their experience can treat a number of diseases that disrupts the functioning of the digestive tract like heartburn or acid reflux, ulcers, IBS, hepatitis C, polyps that mainly occur in the large intestine, jaundice, hemorrhoids, bloody stool, pancreatitis and colon cancer.
Your family doctor or general physician might refer you to a gastroenterologist if you have unexplained blood in your stool, finding it hard to swallow for no reason and facing severe abdominal pain. Men and women aging between 50-75 have increased risk of colon cancer so they should visit a gastroenterologist for preventive care. You should also visit a gastroenterologist if you are suffering from rectal bleeding, leakage or underwear stains, bowel urges that are hard to control, diarrhea, change in bowel habits, pale-coloured stools, dark urine, acid reflux, abdominal pain or bloating, excessive gas or belching, esophageal pain, vomiting, loss of appetite or weight and lethargy.
Those who are suffering from frequent heartburn for more than six months and if the proton pump inhibitors are not helping then you may need help for gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. Also those who have celiac disease or those who can't digest gluten, Crohn's disease and inflammatory bowel disease should consult a gastroenterologist without delay.
The specialists perform a range of non-surgical procedures like endoscopic ultrasounds, colonoscopies, endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography to detect gallstones, tumours or scar tissue in the bile duct area, sigmoidoscopies to check blood loss or pain in the bowel, liver biopsies to study inflammation and fibrosis,capsule endoscopy and double balloon enteroscopy to examine the small intestine respectively. These are all methods for diagnosis based on which treatments are provided.
Most of the abdominal diseases are preventable and treatable with good diet and lifestyle changes. Here are some tips to improve your digestive system-
Nutritionists suggest a high fiber diet comprising of whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables since high fiber diet helps to keep food moving through the digestive tract so that you are likely less constipated. A high fiber diet can help you prevent digestive disorders like diverticulosis, hemorrhoids and irritable bowel syndrome. It can also help you maintain a healthy weight.
One should have both soluble and insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber or roughage can't be digested by the body thus it adds bulk to the stools and prevent constipation. While soluble fiber absorbs water and can prevent stools which are watery. Good sources of insoluble fiber include wheat bran, vegetables and whole grains. While the common sources of soluble fiber are nuts, seeds and legumes.
Fat rich food slows down the digestive process making it prone to constipation. But your body needs essential fat for which you should combine fatty foods with high fiber foods. Choose lean meats.
Healthy gut requires good bacteria or probiotics that are naturally present in the digestive tract. This keeps the body fit by countering the effects of poor diet, antibiotics and stress. Probiotics or healthy bacteria that are naturally present in low-fat yogurt or kefir and should be consumed daily since it increases nutrient absorption, strengthen the immune system, breakdown lactose and treat IBS.
One should eat regularly at the same time to keep your digestive tract in a perfect condition.
Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated in summers specially, since the fiber absorbs water into the colon making stools softer and bulkier and allow them a clear passage.
Quit bad habits like smoking, drinking alcohol and drinking too much coffee as it might interfere with digestion and can lead to stomach ulcers and heartburn.
Regular exercise will help you to maintain a healthy digestive system by reducing constipation and other common disorders. Exercise also helps to maintain healthy weight, so incorporate it in your weekly schedule however busy you are.
Indulge in stress reducing activities like listening to music, dancing and walking to prevent and reduce stress and anxiety that can throw your digestive system completely out of gear.
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