IBS: Why See a Specialist?

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Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a complex disease that affects everyone differently. That’s why all IBS 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 IBS successfully.

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

1. A gastroenterologist completes extensive training in IBS and is an expert in IBS care.

A gastroenterologist is a physician who specializes in treating diseases related to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The GI tract is 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 IBS and other conditions related to the GI tract.

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 IBS and issues affecting the gastrointestinal system. At the end of this period, specialists are eligible 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 IBS.

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 IBS, so they can then provide their patients with insightful, informed, and up-to-date treatment plans.

3. A gastroenterologist has extensive experience in treating IBS.

Gastroenterologists see a higher volume and concentration of patients with IBS, and thus are more experienced in treating the condition successfully. Because they see lots of patients with IBS, 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 IBS 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 IBS and can connect patients with nutritionists, pain management specialists, exercise physiologists, therapists, and other experts in IBS 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 IBS successfully.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2019 Apr 9
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