Symptoms of Crohn's disease may first prompt a visit to your family doctor or general practitioner. However, you may then be referred to a doctor who specializes in treating digestive disorders (gastroenterologist).
Because appointments can be brief, and there's often a lot of information to discuss, it's a good idea to be well prepared. Here's some information to help you get ready, and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. At the time you make the appointment, be sure to ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as restrict your diet.
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements that you're taking.
- Ask a family member or friend to come with you to your appointment. Sometimes it can be difficult to take in all the information provided during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions ahead of time can help you make the most of your visit. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. For Crohn's disease, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What's causing these symptoms?
- Are there other possible causes for my symptoms?
- What kinds of tests do I need? Do these tests require any special preparation?
- Is this condition temporary or long lasting?
- What treatments are available, and which do you recommend?
- Are there any medications that I should avoid?
- What types of side effects can I expect from treatment?
- Are there any alternatives to the primary approach that you're suggesting?
- I have other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
- Do I need to follow any dietary restrictions?
- Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing me?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
- What is the risk to my child of developing Crohn's disease if I have it?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask additional questions during your appointment.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:
Aug. 09, 2011
- When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
- Have your symptoms been continuous or intermittent?
- How severe are your symptoms?
- Do your symptoms affect your ability to work or do other activities?
- Does anything seem to improve your symptoms?
- Is there anything that you've noticed that makes your symptoms worse?
- Do you smoke?
- Do you take NSAIDs, for example, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Aleve) or diclofenac (Volteren, Solaraze)?
- Crohn's disease. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/crohns/Crohns.pdf. Accessed June 20, 2011.
- Management of Crohn's disease in adults. Bethesda, Md.:American College of Gastroenterology. http://www.acg.gi.org/physicians/guidelines/CrohnsDiseaseinAdults2009.pdf. Accessed June 20, 2011.
- Living with Crohn's disease. The Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America. http://www.ccfa.org/frameviewer/?url=/media/pdf/crohns2005.pdf. Accessed June 20, 2011.
- Crohn's disease. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/print/sec02/ch018/ch018b.html. Accessed June 20, 2011.
- Peppercorn MA. Clinical manifestations, diagnosis and natural history of Crohn's disease in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed June 20, 2011.
- Smoking and your digestive system. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/smoking/DD-52.pdf. Accessed June 23, 2011.
- Burakoff R, et al. Inflammatory bowel disease. In: Greenberger NJ, et al. Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Gastroenterology, Hepatology, & Endoscopy. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw Hill Medical Companies; 2009. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=6200149. Accessed June 20, 2011.
- Ford AC, et al. Glucocorticosteroid therapy in inflammatory bowel disease: Systematic review and meta-analysis. American Journal of Gastroenterology. 2011;106:590.
- Colombel JF, et al. Infliximab, azathioprine, or combination therapy for Crohn's disease. New England Journal of Medicine. 2010;362:1383.
- Rutgeerts P, et al. Biological therapies for inflammatory bowel diseases. Gastroenterology. 2009;136:1182.
- Farrell RJ, et al. Medical management of Crohn's disease in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed June 20, 2011.
- Korzenik JR. Investigational therapies in the medical management of Crohn's disease. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed June 20, 2011.
- Ford AC, et al. Efficacy of biological therapies in inflammatory bowel disease: Systematic review and meta-analysis. American Journal of Gastroenterology. 2011;106:644.
- Enck P. Acupuncture treatment in gastrointestinal diseases: A systematic review. World Journal of Gastroenterology. 2007;13:3417.
- Markowitz J, et al. Patterns of complementary and alternative medicine use in a population of pediatric patients with inflammatory bowel disease. Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. 2004;10:599.
- Picco MF (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Fla. July 12, 2011.
- Colorectal cancer screening guidelines. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/colorectal/basic_info/screening/guidelines.htm. Accessed July 12, 2011.