Symptoms from the GI Tract

The digestive system is a group of organs working together to convert food into energy and basic nutrients to feed the entire body. Food passes through a long tube inside the body known as the alimentary canal or the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract). The alimentary canal is made up of oral cavity, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine (colon). In addition to the alimentary canal, there are several important accessory organs that help your body digest food but do not have food pass through them. Accessory organs of the digestive system include salivary glands, liver, gallbladder, and pancreas.  A variety of common symptoms can occur when the GI tract is functioning normally.

gastroenterologist is a physician who specializes in diseases of the digestive system, also called the gastrointestinal tract.  While many of these symptoms will first be brought to the attention of a general doctor, additional expertise will often be required to determine the correct cause of the symptoms and their management. Gastroenterologists may need to be involved with the diagnosis, the treatment, and the overall management of conditions affecting the GI tract.

Abdominal Pain




Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing)

Gastrointestinal Bleeding

Heart Burn

Intestinal Gas


Nausea and Vomiting

Weight loss

Preparing for your Visit

Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions ahead of time will help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important, in case time runs out. For constipation, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • What is likely causing my symptoms or condition?
  • Are there other possible causes for my symptoms or condition?
  • What kinds of tests do I need?
  • What treatment approach do you recommend?
  • What other treatment options exist?
  • How soon do you expect my symptoms to improve with treatment?
  • I have these other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
  • Are there any restrictions that I need to follow?
  • Should I see a gastroenterologist? What will that cost, and will my insurance cover it?
  • Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing?
  • Are there brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
  • In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask additional questions as they occur to you during your appointment.