Who to turn to?
Your first port of call will usually be your general practitioner (GP). It can be difficult for a GP to identify the cause of your abdominal symptoms straight away, and you may require a number of tests to investigate possible diagnoses. They may ask you about your symptoms. For example with abdominal pain they may ask:
- How long you’ve had the pain, how it feels and where it hurts?
- What are the effects of food and bowel movements?
- Are there any other symptoms?
- What medications are you taking?
- Previous medical problems or past surgery
- Menstrual history in women
- Family history
It may be helpful to think about this information before you visit your GP so you can be prepared with as much information for them as possible.
Depending on your symptoms, there may be a number of tests your GP performs to investigate what might be causing them. These include blood tests, urine tests and imaging studies such as X-rays, ultrasound or computed tomography (CT) scans. See the ROAD TO DIAGNOSIS section of this website for information about gastrointestinal tests.
If your doctor is unsure of a diagnosis and a more thorough examination is required, they may refer you to a gastroenterologist who is an expert in diseases of the digestive tract. There are tests that gastroenterologists can do to determine whether you are suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). A gastroenterologist may diagnose your condition, prescribe treatments and evaluate how well they are working. You can only see a gastroenterologist after you receive a referral from a GP.
Find a gastroenterologist
While you will require a referral from your GP, visit the Gastroenterological Society of Australia’s website to find a gastroenterologist in your local area. Please note, not all gastroenterologists may be listed on this site. It is important to find someone you can work with during this process of investigation and treatment.