Why see a gastroenterologist?
When you experience symptoms in your GI tract, your primary care doctor will send you to a specialist to ensure you receive proper diagnosis and treatment. When it comes to GI diseases, gastroenterologists have knowledge in a variety of areas and topics. As part of their specialty, they can:
Primary care physician (PCP)
Wait. If your PCP sent you to a gastroenterologist, do you still need to see your PCP? Absolutely. They still provide preventative, nonemergency healthcare on an ongoing basis. Plus, it’s important to keep them in the loop with what happens at your gastroenterologist visits.
Registered dietitian or certified nutrition specialist
A dietitian or nutrition specialist is trained to form a nutrition plan. They can identify foods you should eat and those you should avoid when you have Crohn’s or UC, and make sure you’re getting enough food to meet your nutritional needs.
What’s the difference between a registered dietitian and a certified nutrition specialist?
- Minimum of a bachelor’s degree
- Academic and clinical requirements by the American Dietetic Association (ADA)
- Certified by the Commission on Dietetic Registration
Certified Nutrition Specialist
- Requires a graduate degree
- Clinical requirements for certification
- Certified by Certification Board associated with the American College of Nutrition
Whether you're looking for a registered dietitian or certified nutrition specialist, they can be an important addition to a care team and can help create the best possible treatment plan for your IBD diagnosis.
Other doctors may be needed if extraintestinal manifestations (EIM) occur, which are complications that happen outside of the GI tract. They can also check for comorbidities, which are other diseases or medical conditions aside from the IBD. Make sure to talk to your PCP or gastroenterologist if you’re experiencing them, so they can refer you to the right doctor or specialist.
Make sure you provide all of your doctors or specialists with as much information and history of your disease as possible.
It’s also important to mention what type of medications you are currently under so they can make sure they don’t interfere with one another. If you have questions about the medications you’re currently taking, your pharmacist may be a good resource to provide you with more detailed information.
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