Good preparation helps you get the most out of any doctor visit, and It’s particularly important when the information you provide may help your doctor differentiate between diseases with similar symptoms, such as ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s disease.

To get ready for your doctor visit, ask in advance if there’s anything you should do, or not do, before your visit. For example, should you limit your food or fluid intake, and if so, for how long before you see the doctor? Other ways to prepare include:

  • Writing down all your symptoms, even ones that don’t seem related to your digestive problem.
  • Making a list of recent major stresses or changes in your life.
  • Listing all the medications you are taking, prescribed or over the counter (OTC), along with any vitamins, dietary supplements, and/or herbal preparations you take.

Consider asking a friend or family member to go with you to see the doctor. He or she can help you remember what happens and what the doctor tells you.

Besides helping your doctor, this careful preparation may give you additional insights into what may be causing or aggravating your digestive problem.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Ulcerative Colitis

You can print out the following lists of questions about ulcerative colitis (UC) to take with you when you see your doctor. You may want to highlight the ones most important to you.

Before the diagnosis:

  • What are the possible causes of my symptoms?
  • What do you think is the most likely cause?
  • What types of diagnostic tests do I need?
  • Will you give me written information or instructions for my tests, or should I write down what you tell me?
  • If I’m uncomfortable with having a specific test, will you let me know if a different approach is available?
  • Once you decide what’s causing my symptoms, what are the next steps?

If you are diagnosed with UC:

  • Do you consider my symptoms mild, moderate, or severe?
  • What treatments are available for my UC?
  • Which ones do you think are right for me?
  • Is a generic form of prescription medication available?
  • What are the side effects of treatment?
  • Am I likely to need surgery?
  • Do you recommend any changes in my diet? Should I consult a nutritionist?
  • Do I need to do anything differently now that I know I have UC?
  • What follow-up care will I need?
  • I have additional health problems—how will my UC treatment affect them?
  • Can you give me any printed material about UC?
  • What websites do you recommend?

Questions Your Doctor May Ask You About Ulcerative Colitis

To help make the diagnosis:

  • What are your symptoms?
  • Do you have pain or cramping in your abdomen?
  • Do you have diarrhea?
  • If so, do you see pus or blood in it?
  • Does it wake you up at night?
  • Is anyone else in your family sick with it?
  • Have you lost weight but were not dieting?
  • How long ago did you start having symptoms?
  • How severe are they?
  • Are they continuous, or do they come and go?
  • What, if anything, relieves your symptoms?
  • What makes them worse?
  • Have you ever had liver problems, hepatitis or jaundice?
  • Have you had sores in your mouth, skin sores or rashes, or problems with your joints or eyes?
  • Have you ever taken isotretinoin for acne?
  • Have you recently taken antibiotics?
  • Have you traveled recently? If so, where?