Being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease can be distressing. You may be afraid that you’ll have to quit working or stop traveling. You may wonder how having an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) will affect your relationships and social life. You may think you’ll never learn to cope with unpleasant symptoms such as persistent diarrhea and stomach cramps.
The difficult truth is that having Crohn’s disease won’t be easy. It will affect almost every part of your life. But by learning all you can about the disease and how to manage it, you can keep doing the things you love.
Here are some important steps you can take now that can help you cope with this ongoing health condition.
Find a Doctor and Treatment Center
One of the most important first steps is to find an experienced gastroenterologist. A gastroenterologist is a doctor who specializes in treating the digestive tract. Start by asking your primary doctor who he or she recommends. You can also look up doctors who specialize in treating Crohn’s disease and other inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) on the web sites of these organizations:
- The American College of Gastroenterology
- The American Gastroenterological Association
- The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of American (CCFA)
When choosing a doctor, consider the following questions:
How many people with IBD does this doctor see each year? If possible, you want to work with a doctor who sees a lot of people with Crohn’s. These doctors have more experience prescribing the medications to control the disease and understand the nuances involved in treating people with this condition.
Is the doctor covered by your insurance? It’s a good idea to call both your insurance company and the doctor’s office to confirm that your health plan will cover the doctor’s services.
Where is the doctor’s office located and what are his or her office hours? When you are having a flare-up of symptoms, you won’t want to be away from a bathroom for very long. Choosing a doctor near your home, if possible, can give you peace of mind that help is nearby when you need it.
Do you feel that the doctor listens to and respects you? Crohn's can be hard to talk about. And because it affects so many aspects of your life, it is especially important to choose a doctor you can easily talk with openly and honestly.
Which hospital or treatment center is the doctor affiliated with? You may want to choose a hospital at the same time you choose a doctor. While not everyone with Crohn’s disease will need to go to the hospital, many do, especially when they have had the condition for a long time. It’s better to decide on a hospital when you feel well instead of when you are dealing with the discomfort of a flare.