While data on gut dysfunction are available from many online sources, Sandy Springs gastroenterologist Eric Steinberg recommends using Wikipedia or the Mayo Clinic for research.

Mayoclinic.org is user-friendly and medically derived, leaving out opinions and testimonials.

Steinberg said patients can get misinformation from anecdotes posted online. When patients use Google to search symptoms, they often become frustrated by bad information.

Gastrointestinal dysfunction is highly personal; one patient with Crohn’s disease is vastly different from another.

“The first place to start is with your doctor. Even sites like WebMD can be too broad. Do some research, write down your questions and come into the office to talk to me,” he said.

“If it’s a serious problem, I want to see you face to face. We will discuss symptoms and make a plan of action. For more minor issues like prescription drugs, I use the phone or patient portal. I use every avenue to get a patient what he needs,” Steinberg added.

Crohn’s disease was first identified by Burrill Crohn in 1932 at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. His colleagues Leon Ginzburg and Gordon Oppenheimer discovered that 14 patients with this gastrointestinal disease were all Ashkenazi Jews.

Since the discovery by Crohn, studies have linked a range of genetic disorders to Ashkenazi Jews and others to Sephardi Jews; Emory-based JScreen checks for more than 200 diseases.

Inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatic cancer and Crohn’s disease are caused by genetic predisposition or environmental factors.

Eric Steinberg says that being part of a larger office should help his patients get the resources they need.

Steinberg’s gastroenterology training at SUNY Downstate in Brooklyn and Emory University School of Medicine affords him expertise in colorectal screening, IBD, reflux, upper GI dyspepsia, microscopic colitis, Crohn’s, gallbladder cancer, stomach cancer and Barrett’s esophagus.

Steinberg is closing his solo practice this month and joining Atlanta Gastroenterology Associates to better serve his patient population. After nearly 20 years of practicing alone, he is aware of frustrations surrounding paperwork, Medicare and health insurance.

“A bigger group allows for resources that focus on getting patients what they need,” he said.

Steinberg said patients are savvy. While they like a mom-and-pop shop — talking to a person and not a machine when calling the office or speaking directly to a nurse — the medical world is changing.

“It’s hard to maintain administrative activities and give my full attention to patients. In a perfect world, when a patient calls the office, they get a doc on the phone, but it doesn’t always happen that way,” he said.

Doing rounds in Sandy Springs at Northside Hospital and Emory St. Joseph’s Hospital, Steinberg was due to start his new venture Thursday, Feb. 1.

Do You Need a Gastroenterologist?

Eric Steinberg of Atlanta Gastroenterology Associates says you might need to see a gastroenterologist if you’re experiencing:

  • Unexpected weight loss.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Indigestion.
  • A change in bowel habits.
  • Esophageal pain.

At your first appointment, express concerns and provide a history so the doctor can collect data to give a diagnosis.

Blood tests might be ordered to look for inflammatory markers, gallbladder and liver function, and vitamin deficiencies. Procedures including a colonoscopy and endoscopy provide information needed to diagnose and treat problems.

At the first appointment, Steinberg said, “feel me out. Make sure I am compatible with your idea of medical care.”