What Is Gastroenterology?

Gastroenterology is a branch of medicine that specializes in the functioning of gastrointestinal tract and treating digestive system disorders. This medicine area deals with a wide spectrum of diseases. They include hepatology that implies the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of pancreas, gallbladder, biliary tree, and liver. Also, gastroenterology is focused on the treatment of pancreatic disease, endoscopic surveillance, gastroesophageal reflux disease, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, transplantation, hepatitis C, and gastrointestinal cancer. And this is not the full list of the diseases this medicine area copes with.

Who Is Gastroenterologist?

Gastroenterologist is a doctor who is engaged in diagnosing and treating the medical conditions of the gastrointestinal tract in people regardless of age and gender.

Gastroenterologists carry out endoscopic procedures which imply the application of specific medical equipment in order to monitor the gastrointestinal tract and set a correct diagnosis. But these doctors can’t do a surgical procedure. However, they may greatly assist the gastrointestinal surgeon. These doctors perform their activities in hospitals and clinics.

The gastrointestinal tract is responsible for the movement of food through the digestive system and its digestion there; for the absorption of all macronutrients, micronutrients, vitamins, minerals, etc.; and for the removal of undigested components from the body. And gastroenterologists cure all parts of the system involved in the mentioned processes except the mouth. As for the mouth which is also a part of digestive system, it is in the medical competence of the dentists.

When to Visit a Gastroenterologist

First of all, once you noticed any alarming symptoms concerning your gastrointestinal tract, you should schedule the family doctor’s appointment. And if this medical expert deems this appropriate, you will be recommended to visit a gastroenterologist. This will happen if you:

  • Suffer from rectal bleeding of unknown origin
  • Can’t swallow food normally and feel discomfort or/and pain
  • Have constant or frequently repeatable bloating and pain in the stomach area
  • Abnormal diarrhea and/or constipation
  • Too frequently occurring heartburn
  • Want to take fat burners but have some gastrointestinal troubles

Also, if you are in your 50s or even older, it’s advisable to consult a gastroenterologist just in order to take a preventive measure. The matter is that all people regardless of gender who are 50 years old and older run a higher risk of colon cancer. You will prevent this serious disease or diagnose it at the very early stage if you follow this recommendation.

So, a screening test underwent on a regular basis is highly suggested for people who are in a risk group. And if someone from your family suffered from colon cancer, it’s obligatory to get a screening to timely save your health and life.


The research interests of the Division are extensive and include: tumor biology, genetics of GI cancers, hepatitis C, mechanisms of drug-induced liver disease, chemoprevention and treatment of GI malignancies, gastrointestinal motility disorders, pulmonary complications of gastroesophageal reflux, Helicobacter pylori research, pancreatic cancer, eosinophilic esophogitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and esophageal cancer.


The Division is housed at the University of Utah Medical Center (UUMC), Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) and George E. Wahlen Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC). The Division is the major referral center for the Intermountain area, and thus sees a wide variety of both common and uncommon gastrointestinal (GI) and hepatic diseases. The Division has a strong history of producing leaders in Digestive Diseases. Examples include James W. Freston, M.D., who received the highest honor the AGA bestows (Friedenwald Medal for Distinguished Services, 2007) for his contributions in the area of clinical pharmacology of GI therapeutics and Randall W. Burt, M.D., who pioneered the area of colon cancer genetics and co-led a team with Ray White that discovered APC mutants leading to colon cancer.
The Division is a specialized provider of the following services in the Intermountain region: endoscopic ultrasound (EUS), care of familial colon cancer patients, therapeutic endoscopy (ERCP), gastrointestinal motility studies, capsule endoscopy, liver transplant and endoscopic feeding tubes. State-of-the-art diagnostic and therapeutic endoscopy services are offered. These include: standard upper and lower GI diagnostic and therapeutic endoscopy, polypectomy, dilation, cautery and injection therapy of bleeding lesions, variceal band ligation, endoscopic sphincterotomy and biliary stent placement, otc diet pills, percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy and jejunostomy, endoscopic treatment for tumors and vascular lesions, lithotriptic treatment of gallstones, EUS with fine needle aspiration, GI motility, and esophageal pH and impedence testing.

There are multiple clinical protocols for endoscopic therapy of GI malignancies, endoscopic treatment of familial polyposis, and therapeutic endoscopic procedures and GERD-related topics. A GI genetics program attracts many patients with inherited disorders of polyps and tumors of the GI tract.

What Do Gastroenterologists Treat?

The gastroenterologists are concerned with diagnosing and treating diseases which afflict the gastrointestinal organs and functions. Among the gastrointestinal organs, it’s possible to distinguish food pipe, stomach, small intestine, colon, rectum, anus, pancreas, gallbladder, bile ducts, and liver.

The American College of Gastroenterology states that the work of gastroenterologist implies that this medical specialist must precisely understand and know how:

  • Gastrointestinal organs including liver perform
  • Food and other substances go through the stomach and then intestines
  • Nutrients are absorbed and digested in the digestive tract
  • Waste products leave the human body

The gastroenterologists are engaged in the ensuring health care to the patients, suffering from the following diseases:

  • Gastritis
  • Peptic ulcer
  • Gastroesophageal reflux
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Pancreatitis
  • Colon polyps
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Hepatitis
  • Celiac disease
  • Colon cancer

The gastroenterologists also frequently provide medical care in conjunction with the other doctors who manage the prevention and treatment of diseases in other medicine fields.

In particular, the gastroenterologists most often cooperate with:

  • Radiologists, who obtain and explain medical images
  • Hepatologists, who are focused on liver medical conditions
  • Oncologists, who use oncology methods for diagnosing and curing cancer

The Role of Diet in Gastrointestinal Health

Unbalanced nutrient-deprived eating pattern deals a great destruction to the whole digestive tract, including all its organs and systems. Typically, the gastrointestinal tract is able to long withstand many negative effects induced with improper diet.

But if the gastrointestinal tract is subject to the adverse factors related to poor nutrition for the extended timeframe, the whole system starts failing to function well. And the gastrointestinal disorders may develop.

Thus, the lack of fiber in the nutrition may lead to the occurrence of medical conditions such as:

  • Digestive upset
  • Uncleared bowels
  • Diverticular disease
  • Colon cancer
  • Aggravation of available gastrointestinal symptoms

Among the other negative health effects, the alcohol consumption causes:

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Gastritis

The intake of high amounts of trans fats provokes:

  • Unhealthy elevation of bad (LDL) cholesterol levels
  • Gut inflammation

Also, the abundance of additives such as preservatives, colorings, bleaches, and sweeteners consumed with foods on a regular basis has an unbeneficial influence on the gut microbiome. Due to this, the gastrointestinal disorders may develop.

The symptoms of the majority of digestive tract diseases can be substantially relieved after the amendment of existing diet. Thus, the low-fat and low-carb diets can be quite suitable for this purpose. People suffering from celiac disease can ease their condition by sticking to a gluten-free diet. The patients with diagnosed irritable bowel syndrome should replace the daily 2-3-portion eating pattern with the consumption of food in frequent small portions throughout the whole day in order to start feeling much better. And those people who have pancreatitis or other pancreas disorders should always stay hydrated and take care of adequate nutrient intake. The use of the high-quality over-the-counter appetite suppressants will not impede any of the mentioned diets and will only support the patient’s gastrointestinal disorder-relieving efforts.

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