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Talking to Your Doctor About Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Your health history is personal. Talk with your doctor about your risk factors or knowledge of IBS. This can help you take an active role in your care.

Tips for Getting Information

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

  • Bring another person with you. It helps to have someone else hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
  • Write your questions before you meet with the doctor, so you do not forget them.
  • Write down the answers you get. Make sure you grasp what you hear. Ask for help if needed.
  • Do not be afraid to ask your questions or ask where you can find more info. You have a right to know.

Some Questions to Ask Your Doctor

About the Diagnosis of IBS

  • Could my problems be caused by anything else?
  • Do you think bacterial overgrowth is worth looking into?
  • Do you think celiac disease is worth looking into?

About Your Risk of Getting Other Problems

Will this problem get worse or turn into a serious disease such as cancer? Are there health problems that might be a sign that it is turning into something more serious?

About Treatment Options

  • What treatments can I get?
  • What medicines can I try?
    • What benefits and side effects can I expect from them?
    • Will they cause problems with supplements or over the counter products that I am taking?
  • What do you think of alternative care for IBS?

About Lifestyle Changes

  • Are there any changes I can make?
  • Can you refer me to a dietitian?
  • Will working out help me feel better?
  • Should I tell my family?

About Outlook

  • Do you know of any clinical trials?
  • Is there any new research that might help me cope with IBS in the future?
  • Can you refer me to a support group?
REFERENCES:

Ford AC, Lacy BE, Talley NJ. Irritable bowel syndrome. N Engl J Med. 2017;376(26):2566-2578.

Getting the most out of your doctor appointment. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/tips-for-talking-to-your-doctor. Updated January 19, 2018. Accessed August 15, 2018.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113627/Irritable-bowel-syndrome-IBS. Updated September 10, 2018. Accessed August 15, 2019.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gastrointestinal-disorders/irritable-bowel-syndrome-ibs/irritable-bowel-syndrome-ibs. Updated April 2019. Accessed August 15, 2019.

Last reviewed August 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board James P. Cornell, MD  Last Updated: 8/15/2019