Managing your ulcerative colitis (UC) can be frustrating at times. It may seem like everyone has a different opinion on what triggers a flare-up or what medications you should be taking.
Your gastroenterologist (GI) can help you navigate the right UC management plan, but what happens if you and your doctor aren’t on the same page?
If there’s a discrepancy between what you’re feeling and what your doctor thinks you’re feeling, this can not only cause interruptions in your treatment, but also break down the trust between you and your doctor.
The following signs might be telling you it’s time for a second opinion for your UC.
Your medications aren’t working as well as they should
You know your body better than anyone else. If you’ve been faithfully following the remission drug therapy plan your doctor has set in place for you, and your UC symptoms are getting worse, something is up.
If your doctor is hesitant to listen to your concerns, it’s fine for you to seek out a second opinion. Try not to worry about hurting anyone’s feelings. Your doctor’s only goal should be to help you choose a treatment plan that will steer you toward long-term remission.
It’s also their job to remain up to date about evolving treatments and medications. Before coming off any medication, speak to your doctor so you can develop a safe and effective strategy that won’t put you at risk for flare-ups.
Your medication works, but your doctor wants you to try something else
UC is a relatively mysterious condition, and medical professionals are still unsure how it develops or why. Medications for UC are constantly being tested and released through clinical trials, and your GI might try to encourage you to try a more aggressive dose or a newer drug.
Their reasons for wanting you to make a change might include:
- fewer side effects
- newer research
- targeted results
- longer remission potential
- fewer risks of other ailments
Keep in mind that you’re completely allowed to disagree with your doctor. If you feel comfortable with your current medication, and you’re managing your UC well, you don’t have to switch medications.
Ask your doctor why they want to change your medication and voice your concerns. If they still suggest a medication change without providing reasons that speak to your needs, you might want to consider seeing a different doctor.
Your doctor seems too busy for follow-ups
Follow-ups are a very important reality for people with UC. Your GI needs to be able to monitor how your body is reacting to medications you’re taking, and how your UC symptoms are progressing.
Routine checkups can also help doctors predict a flare-up before it even occurs. If you’re finding it difficult to get appointments with your doctor for routine follow-ups, it might be time to seek out someone new.
Your doctor is dismissive of your ideas
If you’ve ever gone to see your GI with questions or concerns about your UC treatment and they seem bothered or disinterested, it’s a good idea to get the opinion of a new doctor. UC requires you to be constantly on top of your health, and you need a teammate who is willing to work with you, not against you.
Maybe you’ve heard of a new treatment option you want to explore or are worried your doctor is rushing into the option of surgery. Or maybe you want to discuss combination therapies and natural alternatives. These conversations all warrant finding a doctor who will support you through your decision-making, rather than someone who’s dismissive.
Sometimes the idea of getting a second opinion for your UC can seem stressful and scary. You don’t want to offend anyone, and you certainly don’t want to go through the hassle of finding a new doctor.
Seeking a second opinion is important, and it should be encouraged by doctors. Remember, you are your no. 1 advocate, and any good doctor wants what is best for you and your health.