How To Talk To Your Doctor About IBS

Get Prepped

If you struggle with IBS, or think that might be the culprit of your digesting issues, then talking with a doctor on a regular basis is vital.

This is what helps keep your diagnosis and treatment in line with what’s actually happening in your body. The last thing you want is an inaccurate diagnosis or inappropriate treatment that only makes your situation worse.

So you’ve set an appointment to talk to your doctor about IBS – now what? There are a few important steps to take as you prepare for the big day.

  • Write down any symptoms you’re experiencing, and for how long. This may help your doctor identify what triggers symptom episodes.
  • Write down key personal information, including any recent changes or stressors in your life. These factors can play a key role in the frequency and severity of IBS symptoms.
  • Make a list of your key medical information, including any other conditions for which you’re being treated and the names of any medications, vitamins or supplements you’re taking. If you’ve been medically evaluated for your symptoms in the past, bring medical records of those tests to your appointment.
  • Find a family member or friend who can come with you to the appointment, if possible. Someone who accompanies you can help remember what the doctor says.
  • Write down questions to ask your doctor. Creating your list of questions in advance can help you make the most of your time with your doctor.


For IBS, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • Do I have IBS?
  • What other conditions might I have?
  • Are there any other possible causes for my condition?
  • What diagnostic tests do I need?
  • What treatment approach do you recommend trying first?
  • If the first treatment doesn’t work, what will we try next?
  • Are there any side effects associated with these treatments?
  • Do you suspect that dietary factors are playing a role in my symptoms?
  • What dietary changes are most likely to reduce my symptoms?
  • Should I follow any specific diet?
  • Are there any lifestyle changes I can make to help reduce or manage my symptoms?
  • I have other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
  • Do you recommend that I talk with a counselor?
  • Is my condition chronic?
  • How much do you expect my condition may improve with treatment, including self-care?

In addition to the questions that you’ve prepared to ask your doctor, don’t hesitate to ask questions during your appointment.
– via Mayo Clinic

What Happens Next?

Once you’ve discussed the situation with your doctor and laid out a plan, now it’s time to take action – and stay in touch.

Keeping in close contact with your doctor throughout the treatment process will help keep you on track for better health and a happier life, even with IBS!

Following Up on IBS Treatment

Your doctor will recommend treatments and coping skills based on your IBS symptoms and potential triggers. These could include:


Changes in diet. Lactose, gluten, and other substances in food could trigger your IBS. Treatment will involve removing these from your diet and noting whether your condition improves.


Medications. There are a number of medications that can help with IBS symptoms, including antispasmodics, antidepressants, laxatives, antidiarrheals, and probiotics. Be sure to stick to the recommended dosages.


Lifestyle changes. You might need to exercise more or practice meditation to relieve your stress. Consider whether you can let go of some of the things in your life that cause stress.


You’ll need to go back for follow-up appointments so that your doctor can adjust your IBS treatment to match your symptoms. Maintain your diary so that you’ll have solid information on your condition to bring to your next doctor’s visit.


Go prepared to seek out new information at these follow-up visits. Feel free to ask your doctor about new ways to manage your IBS, including advice on new diets, therapies, or medications. Ask whether there are any new studies in which you might participate. If you find can’t always remember what your doctor tells you, ask whether he minds if you use a tape recorder or take notes during the visit.


Finally, feel free to ask your doctor whether there are any support groups in your area for people with IBS or other bowel disorders. There’s a good chance that your health care provider will be able to link you to others near you who can share treatment and lifestyle advice.
– via

Do you have IBS? How has your doctor handled it?