Talking to Your Healthcare Provider About Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
General Tips for Gathering Information
Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your health care provider:
- Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
- Write out your questions ahead of time, so you don't forget them.
- Write down the answers you get, and make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for clarification, if necessary.
- Don't be afraid to ask your questions or ask where you can find more information about what you are discussing. You have a right to know.
Specific Questions to Ask Your Healthcare Provider
About the Diagnosis of IBS
- Have you exhausted the other possible diagnoses?
- Do you think bacterial overgrowth is worth looking into?
- Do you think celiac disease is worth looking into?
About Your Risk of Developing Complications
- I need to be reassured that this problem is not progressive or a prelude to cancer or other serious condition. Are there symptoms that might indicate IBS is progressing to something more serious?
About Treatment Options
- What treatments are available to me?
What medications can I try?
- What benefits and side effects can I expect from these medications?
- Will any of these medications interact with other supplements or over-the-counter products I'm taking?
What do you think of alternative treatments for IBS?
- Behavioral therapy
About Lifestyle Changes
- Beyond what I have done to manage my symptoms, have you any further suggestions?
- Can you refer me to a registered dietitian who can help me with adjusting my diet?
- Will exercise help my symptoms?
- Should I tell me family?
- Do you know of any clinical trials for IBS?
- Is there any new research that might make this condition easier to cope with in the future?
- Can you recommend a support group?
American Gastroenterological Association website. Available at: http://www.gastro.org/ . Accessed March 6, 2006. Fauci AS, Braunwald E, Isselbacher KJ, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine . 14th ed. New York, NY: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2000. International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, Inc. website. Available at: http://www.iffgd.org/ . Accessed March 6, 2006. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Self Help and Support Group website. Available at: http://www.ibsgroup.org/ . Accessed March 6, 2006. Last reviewed January 2007 by Lawrence Frisch, MD, MPH Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.