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8 Signs It's Time to See a Gastroenterologist

Digestive health issues are pretty common. Knowing the difference between the occasional tummy ache and something more serious can help you determine if it's time to see a gastroenterologist.

woman discussing test results with her doctor in an exam room
Updated October 19, 2021

By Andrew Zabolotsky, MD, Gastroenterologist, Virtua Gastroenterology 

An order of buffalo wings that isn't sitting right. A morning cup of coffee that runs right through you. That extra slice of pepperoni sending hot, burning fire up your throat.

Digestive issues are pretty common. We've all been there, and it's never fun. But knowing the difference between the occasional tummy ache and something more serious could make all the difference in the world.

If these 8 scenarios apply to you, it might be time to schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist.

  1. Consistent Diarrhea
    Diarrhea comes in many forms. And you know it when you see it. But if it lasts for longer than two days without improvement, a GI can help.
  2. Chronic Constipation
    The opposite of diarrhea, constipation is typically defined by less than three bowel movements per week. But if this sounds routine to you, it could be caused by a lingering digestive issue.
  3. Painful Heartburn
    To be fair, heartburn never feels good. But if it's keeping you up at night and is a consistent occurrence, a GI can find the cause and recommend a treatment plan.
  4. Bloody Poop
    Blood in your stool is never good. If your bowel movements are black or red in color, contact a GI to get to the bottom of it. 
  5. Difficulty Swallowing
    If you're having trouble swallowing liquids or food, or feel like there's something caught in your throat – a GI will examine your esophagus to discover the cause.
  6. Sudden Weight Loss or Gain
    It's important to recognize intended weight changes from unintended ones. And if you've noticed an unexplained 10-pound difference in either direction, something could be up.
  7. Noticeable Bloating
    Food babies are for real (darn you, carbs). But if you're experiencing persistent bloating after eating, to the point where it hurts for a significant amount of time – a GI can pinpoint the cause.
  8. You're 45 or Older
    Regardless of digestive issues, everyone age 45 or older should schedule a colonoscopy. Did you know that a colonoscopy is the only screening that can actually prevent colorectal cancer by removing precancerous polyps? To schedule your colonoscopy, click here

We know that digestive issues can be a bit awkward to talk about. But here's the thing: We have seen everything.

It's what we do, and we're happy to do it. At the end of the day, our goal is to make sure everything is running smoothly, literally. Request a consultation and meet with our gastroenterology team