Find the right doctor. It's one of the best things you can do for yourself when you have Crohn's. Because Crohn's is a lifelong illness, you want someone you can count on for the long haul.
You also want someone you trust and feel at ease with, because chances are, you'll see a lot of your doctor over time.
Here are 10 things to look for in a doctor:
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.
6. Someone you like. Of course, it's crucial that you trust your doctor's skills and judgment. But it also helps to like your doctor. People who feel at ease with their doctors are more likely to follow the treatment plans and drug schedules the doctors prescribe, research shows.
7. Looks beyond drug treatment. Drugs should be just one part of treating your Crohn's. Your doctor should also talk to you about eating and nutrition, helpful lifestyle habits like exercise and not smoking, and surgery, if it could help you.
8. A good office staff. Does the staff answer your calls or return them right away? Are they polite and helpful?
9. Insurance. Is the doctor on your insurance plan?
10. Easy access. If your symptoms get worse, can you get in to see the doctor quickly? Does the doctor respond to your calls or emails?