How to Find an IBS Doctor

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In This Article

Do you think that you might have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)? Or have you been diagnosed with IBS but are unhappy with your doctor? When it comes to IBS, perhaps even more so than for other health problems, it is extremely important to find the right person for you. This is because research suggests that a good doctor/ IBS patient relationship can result in a better treatment outcome. Here you will find tips for making sure that you make a good match.

What Kind of Doctor Should You See?

If your symptoms have only come upon you fairly recently, a good place to start is with your primary care physician. Because your primary care physician knows you, he or she can start the process of making sure you get the correct diagnosis and then devise a treatment plan. If necessary, your doctor will refer you to a gastroenterologist, who is a doctor that specializes in the treatment of digestive disorders for further evaluation and treatment.

If your IBS symptoms have become a chronic or severe problem and/or you feel that your primary care physician is limited in their ability to help you, it would be wise to make an appointment with a gastroenterologist so as to benefit from their specialized expertise in the area of digestive health.

How to Find a Doctor

Certainly, personal recommendations, particularly from health professionals that you trust, are the best option for finding a qualified professional. You can also ask your friends or family for a name. An additional option is to use your insurance company's database. The advantage of this approach is that you will be assured that your care from the doctor you choose will be covered by your insurance.

Online Tools for Finding a Doctor

Another option for finding a doctor is through the Internet. The following websites offer information that may help you to make a good match and will provide you with some basic information about each physician.

  • UCompareHealthCare: This health service provides free reports on physicians in your community. Each physician profile tells you what insurance is accepted, what hospitals they are affiliated with and where they received their education.
  • The American College of Gastroenterology: The American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) is an organization of healthcare professionals who specialize in working with digestive disorders. Their database will give you the names of ACG member physicians who practice in your geographical area (U.S. and Canada only).
  • International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD): Through its "Digestive Health Alliance," the IFFGD maintains a database of professionals who have experience working with patients who suffer from functional gastrointestinal disorders such as IBS.
  • North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition: The North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition is a group of health professionals who share the mission of improving the understanding and treatment of digestive diseases in children. You do not need to fill in every box to get the search function to work. 

Mind-Body Treatment

IBS treatment may extend beyond medical doctors. There are two forms of psychotherapy that have been shown to be effective in alleviating IBS symptoms: cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and hypnotherapy. The following two resources can help you to find a qualified practitioner.

  • Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies: The Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) is an association for mental health professionals who utilize cognitive and behavioral therapy techniques. Professionals who belong to ABCT may not have specific knowledge of IBS but should have the appropriate training to apply CBT techniques to your symptoms.
  • Hypnosis Treatment Protocol: Dr. Olaf Palsson, an IBS expert associated with the University of North Carolina has put together a research-proven seven-session hypnosis treatment. To take advantage of this option, click on Dr. Palsson's site:​ List of Professionals Offering Hypnosis Treatment for IBS (U.S. only).
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Article Sources

  • Kaptchuck, T. “Components of placebo effect: randomized controlled trial in patients with irritable bowel syndrome” BMJ 2008 336:999-1003.