15 Questions Every Patient With IBD Should Ask Their GI
One of the best things a patient can be armed with is knowledge. In my experience, the more that I understand about my illness the better I am able to live my life with my Crohn's disease.
In the past I made a lot of mistakes – I stopped taking my medications when I was growing up because I didn’t understand why it was important to keep taking them even when I felt well. I put off doctors' appointments, I decided that I wanted to treat my disease "naturally" (whatever that means), and I let inflammation go uncontrolled, which ultimately led to complications and surgeries down the road. I didn’t have good doctors, I didn’t have support from loved ones, and I didn’t have the tools/education to help myself.
As I grew up and was able to take my health into my own hands more, I armed myself with accurate information about IBD that led me to make better decisions for my health. Understanding IBD has helped me feel like an empowered patient.
Below I left a list of 15 questions that I think are very important to have the answers to as a patient with Crohn's or ulcerative colitis. It’s probably not possible to ask all 15 questions in one appointment, so break them up into a few appointments. Bring some paper and a pen with you to jot down the answers and it also helps to bring another person with you because 2 sets of ears are better than one!
15 Questions every IBD patient should have the answer to about their Crohn’s or UC:
- Do I have Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis? How do you know this?
- Where is the inflammation in my gut located? Large bowel, small bowel, both? Is it continuous or are there skip patterns?
- Do you see any other bigger intestinal complications? Strictures, fistulas, abscesses?
- Would you classify my disease right now as mild, moderate, or severe?
- If I am on steroids what is your exit plan?
- What drug therapy (or combination) do you think would be best for me and why?
- How will we know if this medication is working for me?
- Why do I need to take my medication all the time and what happens if I don’t?
- How will you monitor my disease to get me into remission and to keep me there?
- How do we address symptoms that occur even when I am in endoscopic remission?
- What are the possible side-effects of my medications?
- What are the possible repercussions for not taking my medications?
- Is there a diet that can treat inflammation caused by IBD or does diet just help control symptoms?
- Where do you recommend I get information about IBD?
- Do you provide patients with educational resources or do you have patient education nights?
You can get a printable list of these questions here: Questions to Ask Your GI.
How open are you about being diagnosed with IBD?