A doctor shares the tips for getting the most value from your visit.
One of the best things you can do to manage a condition like Crohn’s disease is to be actively involved in your own treatment. While your gastroenterologist may be an expert on the disease itself, you are the expert of your life: what your symptoms are, how they affect you, what your lifestyle is like, and so on.
“Once we know what type of Crohn’s that patient has, then we discuss what are the possible treatment options, and that’s where it’s important for a patient to be part of that discussion,” says David P. Hudesman, MD, associate professor at the Department of Medicine and medical director at the IBD Center at NYU Langone Health.
Instead of attending an appointment and passively receiving information and instructions from your doctor, come prepared to be an active participant in the conversation. Here are some tips to help you prepare for a valuable appointment for your Crohn’s disease:
Know what your treatment goals are. If you can communicate what you want from treatment, your gastroenterologist will have a better idea of what plan works for you.
Do some basic research of Crohn’s disease treatment options. “You don’t want to read too much,” warns Dr. Hudesman. “If you Google anything, you’re gonna find a lot of things that probably are not true.” Stick to trusted websites, and try to get a general feel of the basic treatment options for Crohn’s disease.
Have questions ready. Dr. Hudesman suggests having questions prepared about different medications, such as whether they will work for you, if there are safety concerns, or if it will affect your everyday life. (Here are other questions to ask your doctor to better understand your prescription.)
Reflect on what your symptoms have been. Have your Crohn’s disease symptoms changed since your last appointment? What trends have you noticed? What symptom is causing you the most trouble that you would like your doctor to address? These are all important things to communicate to your doctor.
“With proper treatment for Crohn’s [and] appropriate follow-up, the vast majority of people do very well with a great quality of life,” says Dr. Hudesman. “There’s no reason why that can’t happen with any of our patients, as long as they’re following up regularly and discussing their care with their physicians.”
Dr. Hudesman is an associate professor in the Department of Medicine and medical director of the IBD Center at NYU Langone Health.
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Once we know what type of Crohn's that patient has,
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then we discuss what are the possible treatment options,
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and that's where it's important for a patient
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to be part of that discussion and part of that treatment plan.
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I think it's important to really have a clear mind
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on what your goals are with the treatment.
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Hopefully, you would have some idea of the different treatment options,
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and do a little research.
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You don't want to read too much.
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If you Google anything you're gonna find a lot of things
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that probably are not true, but to get some basic information,
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so you can have an educated discussion with the provider.
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I think important questions are, are these medications gonna work?
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What are the safety concerns?
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Is it gonna affect their daily life?
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Do they have flexibility at their job?
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If they want to have a family or are planning on having a baby
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in the next few years, are these medications gonna affect that?
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And these type of precautions.
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What I find helpful when a patient comes in
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is if they have a good sense on how their symptoms have been,
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and also what their number 1 concern is.
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And I think a lot of times patients come in, and might have a concern,
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and they're just talking to the doctor about how often
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they're going to the bathroom, if they're having stomach pain.
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Are they losing weight?
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But there might be some other concerns that aren't addressed,
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so I think probably the most important thing a patient could do
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is come in with a number 1 concern of theirs
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that they could speak to the doctor about.
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With proper treatment for Crohn's, appropriate follow-up,
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the vast majority of people do very well with a great quality of life,
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travel, have a family, and there's no reason why that can't happen
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for any of our patients, as long as they're following up regularly
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and discussing their care with their physicians.
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Patient education: Crohn disease (beyond the basics.) Waltham, UpToDate, 2019. (Accessed on January 6, 2020 at https://www.uptodate.com/contents/crohn-disease-beyond-the-basics.)
Questions to ask your doctor. New York, NY: Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation. (Accessed on January 6, 2020 at https://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/what-is-crohns-disease/questions-for-your-doctor.)