How To Navigate Medication Options
by Levi Stone
Until a cure is found for Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis (UC), navigating through a variety of medications is part of nearly every Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) patient’s experience in trying to achieve or maintain remission and improving quality of life. However, whether you’re newly diagnosed or have battled IBD for years, finding the right medication regimen can seem as exhausting as the diseases themselves. This often means trying different categories or combinations of medications, which can be as much trial-and-error as it is a waiting game to achieve desired results. While it certainly tests one’s will and patience, it’s those two things that will help see you through. Doing your research and trusting the process are among the best things IBD patients can do when navigating through medication options.
1. Find a Physician You Are Comfortable With
Finding a physician you are comfortable with and confident in their abilities can mean all the difference in navigating through the many medication options that are out there. Part of your research should also include verifying his or her credentials, checking any quality ratings that may be available, and through word of mouth references from current and past patients. You don’t blindly buy major purchases such as a home or car, so extend the same due diligence in picking the right doctor for yourself as well. Together, you and your physician should focus on mutual goals set to improve your chances in establishing remission, quality of life, and any cost conscious efforts in prescribing medications. Trust is an integral part of the patient-physician relationship, which means patients have a role as well by being completely honest and truthful when answering questions and emphasizing what is important to them during doctor visits and exams.
2. Verify Your Sources
Regardless of when you were diagnosed, each of us has a natural tendency to hit the internet for more information about prescribed or even holistic medications. While the internet is a valuable commodity, it can also be a vast pit of false information and misguidance. One of the easiest and most effective ways in doing diligent research is by being skeptical and demanding verification of sources. Crohn’s and UC can take an emotional toll as well. Unfortunately, people and even companies can prey on emotions to get you to buy-in to what they’re selling. Bottom line is, if something sounds too good to be true or fishy, it likely is. Make sure any information, especially claims, are credible and supported by gauging content, verifying sources, and knowing who is behind the material being presented.
3. Reach Out to Other IBD Patients
Networking and reaching out to other IBD patients is another means by which to research and gain assistance. The sharing of experiences and recommendations are often more valuable than anything you, yourself, can find alone. Support groups and social media communities, such as The Gut It Out Foundation, can connect patients and caregivers together lending collective education and inspiration - all of which are huge factors for someone looking for guidance and suggestions in choosing the best medications and therapies for themselves. Opening up and talking about something deeply personal can be hard, but know you’re not alone and so many others are willing to share their own experiences to help.
Sure, trusting the process is much easier said than done, but patience and perseverance will pay off. We’re not created the same, which also means different medications that work for some may not for others. Getting on the right regimen can take weeks, months, or even years. It’s important to not get discouraged; remember to remain positive and know the medications needed to get you where you need to be are often as unique as you are.
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your condition.
About Levi Stone
With over 20 years of experience as a registered nurse, Levi Stone, MSN, RN is also an IBD patient, having been diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in 2001. Fighting Crohn's Disease over the past 18 years, he’d kept mostly silent about the disease until after having a left hemicolectomy and sigmoidectomy in 2017. The experience led him in finding his purpose by opening up and helping fellow IBD warriors overcome their obstacles though sharing his own personal and clinical knowledge. Levi is an avid Texas Tech Red Raider, lover of all things baseball, never misses a workout, but mostly enjoys living life with his wife of 21 years, Kim, and their children Abby (19), Zach (15)…and his Blue Lacy dog Alimo.
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