Talking to Your Doctor
Living With Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Talking to Your Doctor About Inflammatory Bowel Disease

You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it is essential to talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors and/or experience with inflammatory bowel disease. By talking openly and regularly with your doctor, you can take an active role in your care.

General Tips for Gathering Information

Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your doctor:

  • 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 Doctor

About IBD

  • What type of inflammatory bowel disease do I have?
  • What complications are associated with this type of inflammatory bowel disease?

About Your Risk of Developing IBD

  • Based on my medical history, lifestyle, and family background, am I at risk for inflammatory bowel disease?
  • Because I have inflammatory bowel disease, are my children at a greater risk for developing it?

About Treatment Options

  • What is my best treatment option?
    • What other options are there?
    • What are the risks and benefits associated with this treatment plan?
  • What medicines are available to help me?
    • What are the benefits/side effects of these medicines?
    • Will these medicines interact with other medicines, over the counter products, or dietary or herbal supplements I am already taking for other conditions?
    • How long will I have to take these medicines?
  • What will the plan be if medical treatment does not succeed in controlling my symptoms?

About Lifestyle Changes

  • Will changing my diet help?
    • What type of changes should I make?
    • Can you refer me to a registered dietitian (RD) to help with these dietary changes?
  • What will I need to change in my daily routine?

About Your Outlook

  • What are my chances of developing colon cancer?
  • What is my risk of developing other complications?
  • Will I need surgery?
    • Will I have to wear a bag to collect body waste?
    • How will that affect my sex life?
  • Will I still be able to have children?
  • Will I be able to live a normal life?
  • Can you recommend a support group for me?


Crohn disease in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated May 16, 2018. Accessed December 21, 2018.
Crohn's questions to ask. Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America website. Available at:
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Accessed December 21, 2018.
Getting the most out of your doctor appointment. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: Updated January 19, 2018. Accessed December 21, 2018.
Ulcerative colitis in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated October 26, 2018. Accessed December 21, 2018.
Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review BoardDaus Mahnke, MD