Seeking Help For Bowel Problems
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It’s’ important to seek help for bowel problems if you’re experiencing them. Talking about bowel issues can be uncomfortable. But finding treatment is the fastest way to relief. Learn how to talk to your doctor about your bowel issues in this section.
How To Talk To Your Doctor About Bowel Problems
It’s important to know when to seek help. All of us have experienced the occasional digestive issue that we can usually take care of on our own. Maybe it’s constipation that you can address with a stool softener and a higher fiber diet, or maybe it’s a mild case of diarrhea from something you ate. If your problems resolve themselves in a couple of days and the symptoms seem consistent with what you’d expect when you’re not entirely well, there’s no reason to get terribly concerned.
But when symptoms persist or you begin experiencing things that you haven’t gone through before, a call to the doctor is in order. Your general practitioner is a reasonable place to start, but if you have the opportunity to go directly to a gastrointestinal specialist, even better.
For a lot of people, the is the hardest part of the entire treatment journey. Speaking with someone else about digestive issues isn’t anybody’s idea of fun, and for some of us, it’s positively terrifying. All the more reason to see a specialist. They’ve dedicated their entire careers to helping people with these issues get the help they deserve, and there’s absolutely nothing you can discuss with them that they haven’t heard before. Better yet, you’ll find that they’re experts at making you feel at ease, so the conversation won’t be nearly as difficult as you fear it might be.
Common Questions To Expect At Your Appointment
Still, you probably want to have some idea of what the first appointment will be like so you can go into it with confidence. Here are some of the most common questions you can expect to be asked:
The Nature Of Your Condition
- How long have you had this problem?
- Can you describe your symptoms? List anything that you believe may be a symptom of your condition, even if it doesn’t necessarily seem to be related. Many bowel conditions can affect other biological systems outside of the GI tract, including your skin, mouth, eyes, joints, liver and more.
- Do your symptoms get better or worse at certain times of day?
- Do they get better or worse with certain behaviors or foods?
- Has the frequency or intensity of these symptoms changed over time?
- What other medical conditions do you have?
- What medications are you taking? Be sure to list all the medications you’re taking. This doesn’t only include prescriptions. Be sure to include any vitamins or supplements you’re taking too.
- Does anyone in your family have a digestive disorder?
Behavioral And Emotional Background
- Can you describe your diet?
- Are you lactose intolerant?
- Do you have any other food allergies or sensitivities?
Questions To Ask Your Doctor
Just as important as understanding what will be asked of you is having a sense of what to ask of your physician. Here are some questions you’ll want to know the answers to – we suggest you print this out or write them down so you’ll be sure to remember them during your consultation:
- What is causing my symptoms?
- Will it get worse if left untreated?
- What tests do I need to take?
- Is it related to another illness or medical condition?
- Is this a temporary condition or something that may last a while? If so, how long does it usually last?
- What treatments are available?
- What do you recommend?
- Are there any side effects?
- What types of results can I expect with treatment?
- Are there alternate treatments that I should consider?
- Are there things I can do on my own to improve my condition?
- Should I change my diet or drinking habits?
- Are there any foods you recommend to take or avoid?
- Can a fiber supplement help?
- Are there exercises that can help?
- What should I look for in a protective garment?
- Are there any particular products you recommend?
- Are there any brands I should look for?
What To Expect With Bowel Health Treatment
That initial consultation will put you along what’s called the “Care Pathway.” It’s a series of stages that are designed to lead you step-by-step through a treatment plan, starting with the least invasive approaches first.
Keep in mind that the specific nature of your treatment can vary considerably based on what your condition is and your unique medical status. No two people are exactly alike, and you can expect your doctor to develop a personalized plan to address your particular needs.
The Care Pathway
- Changes in diet – What you eat and drink could be causing or contributing to your symptoms, so your doctor may recommend you begin by making changes, avoiding triggers, and tracking how those changes affect your digestion. You may be given a symptom diary to keep a reliable record, but if not, you can download one for free by clicking here.
- Exercises – After diet changes, pelvic floor exercises can be very helpful in developing better bowel control. To learn more about how to perform them, click here. You can even try bowel retraining, which is exactly what it sounds like: A process to retrain yourself to have more regular movements.
- Medications – If diet and exercise aren’t enough, medication may be the next step to consider. There are a number of options available, from over-the-counter supplements to prescription-only drugs. Your doctor will be your best resource for what may make sense.
- Non-invasive procedures – Beyond medications, your doctor may suggest that you use a biofeedback device – that’s an instrument to measure muscle activity, helping you learn how to use the right muscles to control your bowel. There are a number of products available, some of which are used in office but some of which you can also use at home. Another option is gentle electrical stimulation to improve bowel control. It’s a procedure called “neuromodulation,” which is just a technical term for a process to improve communication between your brain and bowel. There are a number of different types of neuromodulation available. But, most of them are noninvasive, can be performed in-office, and have a long track record of success for many patients.
- Surgery – If all else fails, a variety of surgical procedures may deliver you the relief you’ve been looking for. Your doctor will discuss the pros and cons of each and help you decide whether you’re a suitable patient for any of them.
Find A Doctor
A bowel health condition can be difficult to live with, but by talking to your doctor and finding treatment, it can be managed. And if you need help finding a specialist near you, try our doctor finder!
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