When you first learn you have Crohn's disease, you may wonder how it will affect your lifestyle. By learning all you can about the disease and how to manage it, you can keep doing the things you love.
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. Ask your primary doctor whom 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:
- American College of Gastroenterology
- American Gastroenterological Association
- Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA)
When choosing a doctor, consider these questions:
How many people with IBD does this doctor see each year? If possible, 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 they understand what's involved in treating people with this condition.
Is the doctor covered by your insurance? It’s a good idea to call 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 have a flare-up, you won’t want to be away from a bathroom for very long. Choose a doctor near your home, if possible, to give yourself 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's especially important to choose a doctor you can 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've had the condition for a long time. It’s better to decide on a hospital when you feel well instead of when you're dealing with the discomfort of a flare.
Educate Yourself About Crohn’s
When you have a serious health condition like Crohn’s disease, it’s important to learn all you can about it. Of course, your doctor should be your first resource for learning about the condition and treatment options. It may help to write down your questions to make sure you don’t leave any concerns unanswered. You can also ask a relative or friend to come with you to your appointments to make sure you remember everything your doctor said.