Which Types of Doctors Should I see with my IBD?
For many of us living with IBD, it seems like our care team is bigger than our immediate families. But there are very important reasons to have these specialists on our teams. Do you know which doctors you should have on your team and why? Below we give a few examples of why it's important and how they can each individually help us as patients to live a successful and proactive life as a patient.
There are many complications that may arise in patients with IBD. One obvious symptom of something going wrong with inflammation in our bodies is when our eyes look irritated, red and glossy. It can be an obvious sign of inflammation for those that look for it. But did you know that there are some eye manifestations that could cause permanent damage if a professional does not catch it in time? When your regular eye doctor examines you and finds out you have an immune-mediated disease, he/she will likely recommend a good Ophthalmologist that can help oversee your case. In certain cases, like Uveitis or Scleritis, it's important to see your specialist as soon as possible to prevent further damage, like vision loss or impairment.
Often times, a Urologist may come into the picture when we have trouble emptying our bladders or when certain circumstances pop up, like fistulas. Because of the complexity of these manifestations, a Urologist may order certain types of therapies to help with the course of your disease. Many women experience muscle weakness and may require pelvic floor therapy. Therapies for IBD, especially in women, have come a very long way since even 15-20 years ago. A Urologist may help you strengthen certain muscles that have atrophied or have been affected by surgeries or by the complex nature of the course that is IBD. Again, IBD is different in many patients and you may never need to see a Urologist.
There are many times patients with IBD find themselves at an Endocrinologist. Because of the side effects prednisone has, GI's may be quick to send a patient who is in remission but still experiences fatigue and unusual symptoms. A quick check of the thyroid provides each doctor a baseline on how you may be reacting to certain medications and also helps rule out any additional medication anomalies dealing with the Endocrine system, in addition to thyroid issues.
High risk OBGYN
This is important especially for patients who want to start a family, in addition to female patients who are affected by IBD in their reproductive parts, like Crohn's Disease of the Vulva. Seeing someone who knows what they are looking at is extremely important. Ask your GI if they can give you a referral to someone who can help manage your case.
Often times, in immune-mediated diseases, it can be hard to find the core reason why things occur. Is it another underlining condition we aren't treating? Is it a side effect of the meds we're currently on that are starting to cause issues? Has your joint pain worsened in ways that affect your mobility and quality of life? Many times, we are referred to Rheumatology to rule other immune-mediated diseases out - like Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis and many other diseases that can contribute confusing symptoms on top of an already painful disease. These specialists help diagnose and treat joint pain and other issues related to the bones, muscles and joints.
It's important to see a medical professional about the stresses that IBD brings on. It's ALWAYS okay to seek help, especially proactively. As IBD patients, we deal with numerous issues and each IBD is different. The stress that can be brought on of physical symptoms like fistulas and abscesses can be extremely isolating. Talking this through with a seasoned professional who deals with situations like this every day can be very therapeutic. It's just as important to be proactive with your mental health just as much as your physical health.
Colorectal Surgeon and Gastroenterologist Care Team
Probably the most important on this list would be your GI team. It's important and crucial for your overall well-being to be in constant, effective communication with your GI care team, letting them know what's going on with your help and to help manage gut disorders, inflammation, and infections that may affect your GI tract.
There may be more or less than these specialists on your care team. How have other specialists helped you manage your team? Who on your care team has been crucial helping you to fight inflammation, stay in remission or stay out of the hospital?
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