No one diagnosed with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis understands everything about their condition. Scientists and doctors don’t. Researchers have spent millions trying to figure it out.
So when someone doesn’t know what IBD is all about -- that those letters stand for inflammatory bowel disease, or that it's an umbrella term for Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis -- we shouldn’t be surprised.
These diseases are complicated. They look different with every person. And they’re often uncomfortable...
1. Background in treating Crohn's disease. Your Crohn's may be mild and need a little help. Or it may be severe and require complex treatment. If it is severe, the No. 1 thing to look for is the right kind of gastroenterologist.
A gastroenterologist is a doctor who specializes in digestion and problems in the gut. If you have severe Crohn's, find a gastroenterologist who specializes in inflammatory bowel disease. You can find one at most medical centers and teaching hospitals, or through the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America. If you can't see a specialist, your primary care doctor may need to consult with one to plan your care.
2. Wants to work with your other doctors. Your Crohn's doctor should be willing to work with your primary care doctor, who is in charge of treatment for any other medical problems you may have. Your Crohn's doctor should also be able to refer you to people who will help you quit smoking, get more exercise, or improve your diet.
3. Willing to treat Crohn's aggressively if necessary. The better your treatment is at keeping your gut from getting inflamed, the more likely you are to avoid scarring and other health problems that Crohn's can cause. This helps you avoid hospital stays, surgeries, and time away from your job, family, and the things you enjoy.
4. Someone you can talk to. You want a doctor who can explain your disease or answer your questions fully and clearly. If your doctor doesn't allow enough time to answer your questions, make sure a nurse or other person in the office can.
5. A treatment style that works for you. You maywant to find a doctor who has a treatment style that's similar to yours.For instance,you may prefer a doctor who talks with you about treatment options and treats you as a partner in your care. Make sure your doctor knows what style you like and is willing to either be a partner or take command.