Have you ever felt a burning sensation in your stomach? Usually, you may dismiss this as a sign of hunger, which you can avoid by eating enough and on time. However, if it’s becoming a common occurrence, you should start asking yourself, “When should I see a GI doctor?”
You should seek medical help if you feel frequent pain that worsens over time. This signals that you may already have an ulcer. In this blog, you’ll find the answers to some questions you may have about ulcers and the role of GI doctors.
When Should I See A GI Doctor?
Gastrointestinal (GI) doctors, or gastroenterologists, focus on diagnosing, treating, and preventing stomach and esophagus conditions. Among the conditions they treat are peptic ulcers. This condition pertains to the inflammation and development of sores in the stomach and upper small intestines. Ulcers may develop either from an H. pylori bacterial infection or the overuse of some medications.
To answer the question, “When should I see a GI doctor” you need to observe if you frequently have the following symptoms:
- Burning pain at night or in between meals
These symptoms, especially stomach pain, may go away after taking antacids. If these symptoms persist, you should see a GI doctor as soon as possible. Severe cases of ulcers can even lead to appetite changes, unexpected weight loss, bloody or dark stool, difficulty in breathing, and vomiting.
Heartburn and bloating may be signs of other gastrointestinal conditions. However, if ulcers run in your family, you may have an increased risk of developing peptic ulcers. Other risks include having kidney, liver, and lung diseases. Additionally, habits affecting these major organs, like drinking and smoking, can also lead to ulcers.
Using pain relievers and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for a long time is also a risk for peptic ulcers. Taking high doses of these medications can increase your risk. So, make sure you also tell your doctor about the medications you take. Here are some of the medications that worsen peptic ulcers:
- Naproxen sodium
If you’re taking corticosteroids with NSAIDs, you may also be more prone to ulcers.
How Does A Doctor Know If I Have An Ulcer?
There are many types of diagnostic tests for peptic ulcers. An overview of your symptoms is an important step. Be transparent about your symptoms, risks, and medical history.
You may also need laboratory tests such as stool tests, blood tests, and urea breath tests. All of these tests determine whether you have H. pylori bacteria.
The urea breath test relies on how H. pylori bacteria reacts to urea by producing carbon dioxide. During a urea breath test, you’ll drink a urea solution. Then, your doctor will ask you to breathe into a bag. Suppose your breath contains above-normal amounts of carbon dioxide. In that case, you may have an abundance of H. pylori in your gut.
On the other hand, stool tests and blood tests can directly determine if there is a bacterial infection in your stomach or upper intestine.
Other possible diagnostic tests include imaging tests. X-ray and CT scans show possible holes or tears in your stomach walls. Before a CT scan, your doctor will either ask you to ingest a solution or inject you with a special dye. On the other hand, you’ll drink a barium solution before an X-ray examination.
These procedures are completely safe and don’t have many side effects. However, you may feel bloated and have a light-colored stool for a few days due to the barium solution.
Your doctor may also request an endoscopy. During this diagnostic test, your doctor will insert a long thin rod into your throat. This rod has a camera transmitting real-time images of your esophagus, stomach, and small intestine opening. You may need a spray or liquid anesthetic for this procedure.
GI doctors also sometimes take samples of tissues during an endoscopy to perform a biopsy. This process helps in detecting other conditions like digestive cancers.
Gastrointestinal Doctor In Carlisle, PA
An ulcer is severe inflammation of your stomach lining tissue. It often starts as a burning pain in your stomach. However, it can progress and develop to become bloating, vomiting, and even unexpected weight loss. When left untreated, an ulcer may even progress to gastric cancer, internal bleeding, and obstruction.
Here at Carlisle Digestive Disease Associates, we help patients with various gastrointestinal complications, including ulcers. With numerous GI doctors and state-of-the-art technologies, we can easily diagnose and treat your condition. You may visit our clinic at Carlisle, PA. Simply request an appointment with us through our online form.
For urgent concerns, please call us at (717) 245-2228, instead. We look forward to keeping you and your gut healthy!