Even when your inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is in remission and you are feeling OK, it is still important to keep appointments with your specialist. While it can be tempting, especially because you can feel like you are on doctor overload with a chronic illness, skipping these appointments can pose the risk of being detrimental to your health.
Checking that your medication is working
These check-ins with your physician can help insure that you are on the right medications, as well as allowing your physician to tweak the dosages. If you are feeling well, you may be tempted to just leave well enough alone, but only your physician can determine whether medication changes are beneficial. The goal should always be to take the least amount of medication that provides remission from your illness and decreases your symptoms.
Addressing long-term side effects
Even when you are in remission from IBD, there are medications that may cause long-term side effects. Some medications like oral corticosteroids may require your physician to keep track of your bone density, for example. Some biologics come with very small risks of causing cancer, so your physician may also want to run the appropriate labs to be on the safe side. Keeping these check-ins with your physician can help keep an eye on these important potential side effects.
Catching flare ups ahead of time
These tests help to insure that inflammation is actually gone and can catch flare ups before they cause symptoms or significant damage. Treating any minor flare ups quickly can prevent them from turning into something that could require a hospital stay or weeks of feeling poorly.
Take care of your overall health
With studies suggesting that people with IBD are at a higher risk for cardiovascular events, such as heart attack or stroke — these well checks are even more important. Your doctor can keep an eye on any illnesses that might be linked with IBD and refer you to the correct specialist should the need arise.
Listen, with two kids who have chronic illnesses, I know how annoying well checks can be. But don’t make the mistake of skipping them, because they can really help to insure that you will stay healthy long term.
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Jennifer Rackley is a nutritionist and mother of three girls. Two of her children have dealt with acid reflux disease, food allergies, migraines, and asthma. She has a Bachelor of Science in dietetics from Harding University and has done graduate work in public health and nutrition through Eastern Kentucky University. In addition to writing for HealthCentral, she does patient consults and serves on the Board of Directors for the Pediatric Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association.