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You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it is essential to talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors and/or experience with inflammatory bowel disease. By talking openly and regularly with your doctor, you can take an active role in your care.

Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your doctor:

  • Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
  • Write out your questions ahead of time, so you don't forget them.
  • Write down the answers you get, and make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for clarification, if necessary.
  • Don't be afraid to ask your questions or ask where you can find more information about what you are discussing. You have a right to know.

  • What type of inflammatory bowel disease do I have?
  • What complications are associated with this type of inflammatory bowel disease?
  • Based on my medical history, lifestyle, and family background, am I at risk for inflammatory bowel disease?
  • Because I have inflammatory bowel disease, are my children at a greater risk for developing it?
  • What is my best treatment option?
    • What other options are there?
    • What are the risks and benefits associated with this treatment plan?
  • What medications are available to help me?
    • What are the benefits/side effects of these medications?
    • Will these medications interact with other medications, over-the-counter products, or dietary or herbal supplements I am already taking for other conditions?
    • How long will I have to take these medications?
  • What will the plan be if medical treatment does not succeed in controlling my symptoms?
  • Will changing my diet help?
    • What type of changes should I make?
    • Can you refer me to a registered dietitian (RD) to help with these dietary changes?
  • What will I need to change in my daily routine?
  • What are my chances of developing colon cancer?
  • What’s my risk of developing other complications?
  • Will I need surgery?
    • Will I have to wear a bag to collect body waste?
    • How will that affect my sex life?
  • Will I still be able to have children?
  • Will I be able to live a normal life?
  • Can you recommend a support group for me?
References:

American Gastroenterological Association website. Available at: http://www.gastro.org/. Accessed March 6, 2006.

Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America website. Available at: http://www.ccfa.org/. Accessed March 6, 2006.

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse website. Available at: http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/. Accessed March 6, 2006.

Primary Care Medicine. 4th ed. Lippincott Williams and Wilkins; 2000.

Rakel RE, Bope ET. Conn's Current Therapy 2001. 53rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: W.B. Saunders Company; 2001.

Last reviewed September 2013 by Daus Mahnke, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.