Pointers for Successful Communication

When you take an active role in your health care, you work with your doctor to find solutions that best fit your situation and your life. This way, you'll get the most out of the solution.

You can do this by establishing strong communication with your doctor. He or she knows a lot about your condition and the potential treatment options, but you know the most about yourself. Pairing information from both of you is best. That means being prepared to answer your doctor's questions and ask a few of your own.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask

Much of a visit to your doctor will involve giving the doctor as much information as possible about what's happening with your bowel movements. Related to bowel movements are going to be questions about medications or supplements, any other medical conditions, diet, and what, if anything, works to help the constipation.

You may want to jot down notes so that you're prepared to answer:
  • What are your symptoms?

  • When did your symptoms start?

  • Do the symptoms happen all the time, or do they come and go?

  • How many times a week do you have a bowel movement?

  • How bad do you think your symptoms are?

  • Does anything help you to relieve the constipation?

  • Have you lost weight without trying?

  • What is your diet like on a typical day?

  • How much water do you drink every day?

  • Is there any blood in or on your stool, or on the toilet paper?

  • Do you have any other medical conditions?

  • Are you taking any medication (including over-the-counter)?

  • Are you taking any supplements?

  • Do you have any family members who have had colon cancer?

Questions for Your Doctor

When visiting a doctor about constipation, you are also going to have many questions. Some of the broad topics for discussion will be surrounding what is causing the constipation, what's the treatment, and what you should expect in terms of changes to your bowel movements when treatment starts.

  • What is my diagnosis?

  • What tests will I need?

  • What is the treatment?

  • Does the treatment have any side effects?

  • What is the next step if this treatment doesn't help?

  • Is my constipation related to another disease or condition?

  • Are any drugs I'm taking causing constipation?

  • What changes should I make to my diet?

  • Should I try any fiber supplements or over-the-counter remedies?

  • How much of my tests or my treatments will be covered by my insurance?

  • How often should I see you?

  • What signs or symptoms should prompt me to call you?

  • What should I expect from my treatment?