4 Things Gastroenterologists Want to Know From You

It’s a fact: In many cases, patients can be reluctant to see certain specialists when they experience uncomfortable symptoms; it is much easier for someone suffering from allergies to seek an allergist, for example, than it would be for that same individual to seek out a gastroenterologist because of a change in bowel habits. In actuality, gastroenterologists all over the country see patients who have had symptoms for well over two, three or even four months. At Gastroenterology Associates of New Jersey (GANJ), we believe that educating patients about their symptoms will prompt patients to visit sooner, so any issues can be taken care of before they potentially turn into something more. 

Before a visit with one of our physicians, pay close attention to the frequent questions we may ask so that you are better prepared to answer and connect with your physician:

What is your diet?

Often, issues start and end with what you put in your digestive system. Fatty, sugar-rich foods often lead to excessive gas and bloating, while acidic foods and drinks can cause acid reflux. If your symptoms match up to what you are eating, a physician will let you know and a diet can be discussed accordingly. In similar cases, food and drink can aggravate already present symptoms and you will need to stay away from them, as well. 

While gas is normal, is it normal for you?

This might sound like a trick question at first, but what we mean is that all gas is normal except when you feel you are experiencing it more than normal for you as an individual. Only you know your habits, but explaining to the physician your normal frequency of gas versus what you are currently experiencing will help him/her understand your concerns. As stated above: More often than not, the issue can be traced back to what your diet. 

How does your stool look?

I’m sure we are all quick to flush immediately after using the restroom. Unfortunately, a gastroenterologist will want full detail of your bathroom experiences because your stool is a good indicator of possible conditions such as ulcers, colitis and hemorrhoids. Therefore, before your visit, pay close attention to the consistency, color, and smell so you can arm your physician with as much information as possible.

How much stress are you experiencing?

Not as direct to your digestive system as the questions above, but we truly believe stress plays a pivotal role in your tummy troubles. Believe it or not, but you actually have more nerves in your gut than you do your spinal chord. As a result, when stress effects your life, hormones go out of whack and gut imbalance begins to take place. We aren’t saying stress is an exact cause of whatever symptoms you’re experiencing, but it certainly doesn’t help and may be a factor.

The point being, you don’t need to be shy. Gastroenterologists specialize in the entire digestive system and are here to help you, not make you feel uncomfortable. Asking you these questions will allow your specialist to better understand your symptoms and find the right path for treatment.