You have a unique health history. It's essential to talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors or experience with IBS. By talking openly and regularly with your doctor, you can take an active role in your care. For this condition in particular, a good doctor-patient relationship makes a big difference in your quality of life.
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 the Diagnosis of IBS
Have you exhausted the other possible diagnoses?
Do you think bacterial overgrowth is worth looking into?
I need to be reassured that this problem is not progressive or will turn into another serious disease such as cancer.
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?
Beyond what I have done to manage my symptoms, is there something else I can do?
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?
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 June 27, 2018.
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 November 2017. Accessed June 27, 2018.
Wilkins T, Pepitone C, Alex B, Schade RR. Diagnosis and management of IBS in adults. Am Fam Physician. 2012;86(5):419-426.
Last reviewed May 2017 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Daus Mahnke, MD
Last Updated: 12/20/2014
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