Crohn's Disease: Why See a Specialist?

By

Allie Lemco Toren

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Crohn's disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that injures the intestines. People with Crohn's discuss living with the disease.
Female Patient Being Reassured By Doctor In Hospital Room

Crohn’s disease is a complex disease that affects everyone differently. That’s why all Crohn’s patients should follow unique treatment plans tailored to their specific needs. But your primary care doctor may not have all the information you need to manage your Crohn’s disease successfully.

That’s where specialists come in: a Crohn’s disease specialist, called a gastroenterologist, has the right skills and insight to help you stay in control of your Crohn’s disease. Here’s why:

1. A gastroenterologist completes extensive training in Crohn’s disease and is an expert in Crohn’s care.

A gastroenterologist is a physician who specializes in treating diseases related to the gastrointestinal tract and liver. These parts of the body are involved in many aspects of human health, so gastroenterologists must train extensively to master this area of study. A gastroenterologist will have expertise in treating Crohn’s disease and other conditions related to the gastrointestinal tract and liver.

All doctors complete a training program called a residency after they finish medical school. But gastroenterologists receive considerable training beyond that. Gastroenterologists spend several additional years in a fellowship, during which they train under experienced gastroenterologists and focus on patients with Crohn’s disease and issues affecting the gastrointestinal tract and liver. At the end of this period, specialists are qualified to take an exam to become board-certified gastroenterologists. Look for a doctor who is board certified in gastroenterology, and you’ll know you’re seeing an expert. 

2. A gastroenterologist never stops learning about Crohn’s disease.

To maintain their board certifications, gastroenterologists must keep up with new developments in their field. They must complete continuing education and renew their licenses every few years, depending on the state in which they practice and other factors. By following these requirements, board-certified gastroenterologists stay on top of new treatments and discoveries about the mechanisms involved in Crohn’s, so they can then provide their patients with insightful, informed, and up-to-date treatment plans.

3. A gastroenterologist has extensive experience in treating Crohn’s disease.

Gastroenterologists see a higher volume and concentration of patients with Crohn’s disease, and thus are more experienced in treating the condition successfully. Because they see lots of patients with Crohn’s, they can add real-world knowledge of the disease to their academic and clinical training. They’re able to assess how well patients respond to certain treatments, have a deeper understanding of how Crohn’s disease progresses over time, share insight about effectively implementing lifestyle changes, and recognize symptoms that a general practitioner may miss, among other skills.

4. A gastroenterologist is a team player.

Gastroenterologists work with teams of other health care providers who treat patients with Crohn’s disease and can connect patients with nurse practitioners, nutritionists, exercise physiologists, therapists, surgeons, and other experts in Crohn’s management. Working with a team can help patients address all aspects of the disease and ensure success.

5. It’s easy to find the right gastroenterologist for you.

There are thousands of gastroenterologists in the United States, so how do you know which is the right doctor for you? By searching on Healthgrades.com, you can identify the best gastroenterologist to help you manage your Crohn’s disease successfully.

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Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Jan 11, 2017

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