Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Symptoms of Crohn's disease may first prompt you to visit your family doctor or general practitioner. Your doctor may recommend you see a specialist who treats digestive diseases (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 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?
  • If I have Crohn's disease, what is the risk that my child will develop it?
  • What kind of follow-up testing do I need in the future?

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:

  • When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
  • Have your symptoms been continuous or off and on?
  • 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 nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) — for example, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), naproxen sodium (Aleve, Anaprox), or diclofenac sodium (Voltaren, Solaraze)?
Aug. 13, 2014

You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.