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How to Choose the Right Gastroenterologist

A gastroenterologist is a physician who specializes in diseases of the digestive system, also called the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Gastroenterologists have extensive training in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions that affect the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine (colon), and biliary system (e.g., liver, pancreas, gallbladder, bile ducts). Gastroenterology is a subspecialty of internal medicine.

Gastroenterologists have a thorough understanding of how food moves through the digestive tract (called motility) and the physical and chemical break down of food (digestion), including the absorption of nutrients and the removal of waste products.

Gastroenterologists also focus on the digestive function of the liver.

Gastroenterologists usually care for patients in an office or hospital setting, including nursing homes and outpatient surgical centers.

They often serve as consultants to other physicians and may work in the research field.

Gastroenterologists specialize in the evaluation, diagnosis, management, and treatment of the following symptoms and conditions:

  • Abdominal pain and discomfort
  • Bleeding in the digestive tract
  • Cancer (e.g., colorectal cancer, stomach [gastric] cancer, pancreatic cancer, liver cancer)
  • Constipation and diarrhea
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Diverticular disease and other diseases of the colon (e.g., polyps, irritable bowel syndrome [IBS], colitis, Crohn's disease)
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Hemorrhoids
  •  Hiatal hernias
  • Inflammation in the digestive tract (e.g., gastritis)
  • Liver disease (e.g., hepatitis, jaundice)
  • Malabsorption disorders (e.g., celiac disease, lactose intolerance)
  • Stomach upset, nausea, vomiting
  • Ulcers
  •  Unexplained weight loss

Here are some things to keep in mind when selecting a gastroenterologist. Choose a gastroenterologist who:

  • Listens to your opinions and concerns
  • Encourages you to ask questions
  • Explains things in ways you can understand

When you and your doctor work together as a team, you’ll get better health care. Try the following tips to find a doctor who’s right for you.

Always research your doctor. What you should know about your doctor:

Contact information, Locations and Gender. 

License Information. It is important to know if your doctor is licensed to provide the care that you need.

Education. To learn more about your physician’s background EZDoctor Reports contain information regarding where they studied, graduation date, board certifications, as well as their internship, residency and fellowship. This will help you make an educated decision regarding your doctor’s training and ability.

Hospital Affiliations/Privileges. Its common practice for a doctor to have their office in one location and perform treatment in a separate location. For example, you could go to a doctor’s office for a consultation regarding your knee and that doctor might provide treatment and/or surgery at a hospital that he is affiliated with or has privileges. By having this information before hand, it can help you in deciding whether this doctor would be the most convenient for you.

Procedure Pricing Information. When taking care of any health concern, one of the main things we consider is the cost associated with any procedures that might be necessary. An EZDoctor report will display an average charge for procedures performed by the physician you are reviewing.

Patient Referral Summary.  Primary care physicians, when needed, refer patients to a specialist. Especially when they face a diagnosis that is beyond their Scope of Practice. With an EZDoctor report you will see the physician’s referral pattern.

Pricing/Prescribing Habits. Is your doctor more likely to prescribe a name brand versus a generic drug? Despite your preference, by seeing a breakdown of the most common prescriptions a physician orders you can get a clear view of his prescribing tendencies and average price per prescription.

Disciplinary Actions. Finding out if a physician has been sanctioned or not by a state medical board can be very useful when it comes to selecting a doctor to visit. Equally important is to know  what those infractions were related to.

Criminal Offenses. While federal criminal records are not available to the public, EZDoctor reports include state government records that indicate whether a physician has ever been charged or convicted of a crime. Allowing you to have this information prior to any consultation and/or treatment.

Malpractice Claims. You have the right to know if your physician has been involved in any incidents regarding his medical care. From surgical and medication errors to misdiagnoses, EZDoctor will provide the information you need.

Patient Reviews. It’s always good to know what other patients are saying about a physician. EZDoctor reports collect patient reviews from multiple sources.

Other important questions to ask about the doctor:

Is the doctor taking new patients?

 Is the doctor part of a group practice? Who are the other doctors?

Who will see you if your doctor isn’t available?

Which hospital does the doctor use?

 If you have a medical condition, does the doctor have experience treating it?

What languages does the doctor speak? 

You can find all the information you need on a physician by obtaining an EZDoctor Report. Go to now to get started!


Stress and the Digestive System

Stress doesn't only make you feel bad emotionally but also physically. Remember the last time you had to speak in public? Well, those butterflies you felt in your stomach might had been a sign of a GI problem caused by your anxiety. Stress has been found to be linked to several gastrointestinal issues. 

"Stress can cause your esophagus to go into spasms. It can increase the acid in your stomach causing indigestion. Under stress, the mill in your stomach can shut down and make you feel nauseous. Stress can cause your colon to react in a way that gives you diarrhea or constipation. We are all familiar with the athlete or the student who has to rush to the bathroom before the big game or the big exam," explains Kenneth Koch, MD, professor of medicine, section on gastroenterology and medical director of the Digestive Health Center at Wake Forrest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C."Although stress may not cause stomach ulcers, celiac disease, or inflammatory bowel disease, it can make these and other diseases of digestion worse."

How to Keep Stress Under Control to Aid Digestion

"One of the best ways to manage stress and maintain healthy digestion is moderate exercise," Koch says. Physical activity relieves tension and stimulates the release of brain chemicals called endorphins that relieve stress and improve your mood. Other stress reducers include:

  • Relaxation Therapy. People who have stress-related problems with digestion often benefit from relaxation therapies such as yoga, meditation, hypnosis, progressive muscle relaxation, mental imaging, biofeedback, and even music. One study found that people with irritable bowel syndrome found significant relief from pain, bloating, and diarrhea from a relaxation therapy called Relaxation Response, which was developed by a researcher at the Harvard Medical School.
  • Talk Therapy. Talking to friends or loved ones about your stress can be a big help, and actual talk therapy that involves working with a therapist can be particularly valuable. A trained therapist can help you find better ways to deal with your stress. Mental health professionals use cognitive behavioral therapy to teach people new coping skills. In a recent study of people with irritable bowel syndrome, 70 percent saw improvement in their symptoms after 12 weeks of cognitive behavioral therapy.
  • Diet and Dining. Eating foods that are bad for your digestion can be a cause of stress. Don’t deal with stress by overeating or binging on junk food. "Your digestive system appreciates a healthy, well-balanced diet. Avoid extremes of sugar, fat, and alcohol," advises Koch. "Consider dining, not refueling, when it comes to eating. A relaxed, unhurried, candle-light atmosphere is good for digestion.
  • Limit Stressors. Resist easing stress by smoking or using alcohol. Relying on drugs to deal with stress can also be tough on digestion. "People who are constantly popping over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications for stress headaches can be damaging their digestive tract," warns Koch. Avoid too much coffee and soft drinks that give you a jolt of caffeine and sugar.
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BRAT Diet: How to recover from an upset stomach.

What is the BRAT diet?

If you recently had an upset stomach or diarrhea, your doctor may suggest that you limit your diet the bland- foods that wont irritate your stomach. The BRAT diet is A bland- food diet that is often recommended for adults and children.

BRAT stands for : Bananas, Rice, Applesauce and Toast. The BRAT diet can help you recover from an upset stomach or diarrhea for the following reasons:

  • It includes "binding" foods. These are low fiber foods that can help make your stools firmer.
  • It includes bananas,, which are high in potassium and help replace nutrients your body has lost because of the vomiting and diarrhea.

After you have diarrhea or vomiting, follow the BRAT diet to help your body ease back into normal eating. This diet may also help ease the nausea and vomiting some women may experience.

You can add other bland foods to the BRAT diet. For example, you can try saltine crackers, boiled potatoes or clear soups. Don't try eating dairy products and sugary or fatty food right away, these foods may trigger nausea or lead to more diarrhea.

Adults and children should follow the BRAT diet for only a short period of time because it does not provide all the elements of a healthy diet. Following the BRAT diet for too long may cause your body to become malnourished. This means you are not getting 3nough nutrients . If your body is malnourished, it will be harder for you to get better.

Ask you family doctor if you have any questions about whether you or your child should follow the BRAT diet.