A gastro-what-ogist?

A gastroenterologist is a doctor who specializes in diagnosing, managing, and treating diseases of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and liver, including Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis (UC).

On this page, you’ll find info about:

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:

  • Understand the entire GI tract, from the mouth to the anus
  • Properly diagnose GI diseases and provide treatment plan options
  • Perform endoscopies (procedures to see the GI tract)
  • Understand digestive organs’ functions and how nutrients are absorbed in the body

Is a gastroenterologist enough?

In addition to a gastroenterologist, there are other healthcare professionals to consider, too.

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.

Mental health professional

Having a chronic disease can take an emotional toll on you. A mental health professional can help, especially if you’re feeling sad or anxious. It’s important to seek help if you’re struggling emotionally or just need someone to talk to. 

Other doctors

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.

At Appointments

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. 

Next page:

Friendly advice: Preparing for Your Next Appointment


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