Fatigue, diarrhea, abdominal pain … With such diverse symptoms, treating Crohn’s disease can be difficult, therefore is important to build a Crohn’s treatment team you trust
It is essential to work with your health team to ensure that the treatment methods work for your specific condition. Combinations of medications can be adjusted by medical professionals to find safe and appropriate doses , but this process can take months or even years.
Crohn’s Treatment Team
- Specializes in diseases of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon and rectum, pancreas, gallbladder, bile ducts, and liver
- Your Gastroenterologist is the cornerstone of your Crohn’s treatment team. You should see her regularly and she should be involved in every aspect of your care. Make sure to build your Crohn’s treatment team around a Gastroenterologist you trust. If you are having a hard time finding one, social media can be a great place to find recommendations from other Crohn’s Warriors.
Primary Care, aka your regular or family doctor
- Your primary care doctor is focussed on your overall health. She will act as the point person or coordinator of your care team, not just your Crohn’s treatment team.
- While your Gastroenterologist will likely act as the key decision maker for your Crohn’s treatment team, it is important for your primary care doctor and Gastroenterologist to work together on your care. Crohn’s can impact your entire body and it can be challenging to find the root cause of symptoms without a collaborative Crohn’s treatment team.
Dietitian (or dietician) or Nutritionist
NOTE: Dietitians receive specialized training and a degree – they can either be registered dietitians (RD) or registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN). The term dietitian can only be used by those that have met the professional requirements which include a bachelor’s degree with accredited nutrition curriculum, satisfactory performance on a registration exam, and an internship at an approved facility. View additional information on the qualifications here.
The term nutritionist is NOT protected. That means that any person may call themselves a nutritionist whether they have any specialized training or not – and some accreditations are astoundingly easy to receive. To this point, Dr. Ben Goldacre was able to have his dead cat, Hettie, accredited as a professional member of the American Association of Nutritional Consultants for just $60. Because of this, it is important to research the background of any nutritional information you receive and maintain an open dialogue with your gastroenterologist and primary care physician about your health.
- Dietitians change the foods you eat based upon your Crohn’s disease and other factors to help assess, diagnose, and treat nutritional problems.
- Dietitians may establish individual health plans to meet goals and can leverage special services, including tube feedings, diets, and more.
Psychologist, Psychiatrist, Counselor, or Mental Health Professional
- Specializes in the study of behavior and the mind
- Useful for support for depression, anxiety, stress management, fear and phobia management, and more
- Crohn’s can be stressful and if it starts to impact your emotional well-being it is valuable to add a mental health professional to your Crohn’s treatment team. She will help you find better ways to cope with the challenges of living with Crohn’s disease
- Note: Psychiatrists are able to write prescriptions whereas psychologists and counselors rely on non-medicinal methods
Crohn’s Treatment Plan Goals
The goals of a a treatment plan should be discussed with your Crohn’s treatment team to determine the appropriate strategies based on your age, symptoms, current health, and lifestyle.
- Achieve and maintain remission
- Minimize symptoms such as fatigue and pain
- Enhance physical function
- Improve quality of life