A gastroenterologist is a doctor trained in managing the diseases related to the liver pancreas and gastrointestinal tract. Diseases pertaining to the gastrointestinal tract include organs from mouth to anus. Gastroenterology is the study of diseases and normal function and disease of the oesophagus, small intestine, bile ducts, colon and rectum, liver, gallbladder, stomach and pancreas.
How to become a gastroenterologist in the UK?
In order to qualify as a gastroenterologist in the UK, one needs to complete a medical school programme lasting for 4 to 5 years and then complete a 2 to 3 year residency programme in internal medicine. During the residency programme, doctors are taught about the systems of the body. After completion of the residency programme, one can start training in the field of gastroenterology with a 3-year fellowship in the field under the supervision of a consultant gastroenterologist.
What does a gastroenterologist treat?
Following are some of the conditions treated by a gastroenterologist:
Irritable bowel syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a digestive disorder. Considered as a functional disorder, it involves a malfunction in the working of the intestinal system. It doesn't show any visible tissue damage. IBS causes major disruption in the ability to attend tasks of the daily life. Chronic abdominal pain and major disturbance in the functioning of the bowel functioning are the symptoms of IBS.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) results in the inflammation of a part or all part of the digestive tract. It includes Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. IBD involves severe pain, fatigue, diarrhoea and weight less. If not treated, it can lead to life-threatening complications.
Bloating after eating, nausea, vomiting, indigestion, clay-coloured stool, feeling of fullness, etc are some of the symptoms of gallbladder problems. Abdominal CT scan, blood tests, abdominal ultrasound, etc are some of the tests used to confirm a gallbladder problem.
The pancreas secrete powerful enzymes that help to digest fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Pancreatitis inflames the pancreas. The disease has two forms — Acute pancreatitis and Chronic pancreatitis.
Apart from the above, a gastroenterologist also treats digestive disorders stomach problems, polyps, gastritis, hepatitis, ulcers, hiatal hernia, etc.
Several private gastroenterologists develop sub-specialities such as:
- Clinical Nutrition
- Tropical Diseases
- Pancreatic Disease
- Reflux oesophagitis
- Medicolegal issues
- Endoscopic surveillance
If you experience any problems in the digestive tract, you must immediate consult a gastro doctor near you.