Start by seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner if you have signs or symptoms of antibiotic-associated diarrhea. Your doctor will investigate the potential causes of your signs and symptoms.
Because appointments can be brief, and because there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to be well prepared. Here's some information to help you get ready, and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. At the time you make the appointment, be sure to ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as restrict your diet.
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes. If you've recently stayed in the hospital or in a nursing home, include that, too.
- Make a list of all medications, as well as any vitamins or supplements that you're taking. If you've recently taken antibiotics, include that information in your medications list.
- Take a family member or friend along. Sometimes it can be difficult to absorb all the information provided during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions can help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. For antibiotic-associated diarrhea, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What is likely causing my symptoms or condition?
- What are other possible causes for my symptoms or condition?
- What kinds of tests do I need?
- Is my condition likely temporary or chronic?
- What is the best course of action?
- What are the alternatives to the primary approach that you're suggesting?
- I have these other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
- Are there any restrictions that I need to follow?
- Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing me?
- Are there brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
- What will determine whether I should plan for a follow-up visit?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions that occur to you during your appointment.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may allow more time to cover other points you want to address. Your doctor may ask:
- When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
- Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- Are you currently taking or have you recently taken antibiotics?
- Have you stayed in a hospital or nursing home recently?
- Do you have a history of intestinal problems such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease or other inflammatory bowel disease?
- Have you been around anyone who has been sick with diarrhea in the recent past?
What you can do in the meantime
Continue taking your antibiotics as directed by your doctor.
To cope with diarrhea until your appointment, you can:
June 11, 2013
- Drink more water and other liquids to replace fluids lost because of diarrhea.
- Eat soft, bland foods and avoid spicy or greasy foods that can aggravate diarrhea.
- Eat several small meals, rather than a few larger meals.
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- LaMont JT. Clostridium difficile in adults: Epidemiology, microbiology, and pathophysiology. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 25, 2013.
- Rebmann T, et al. Preventing Clostridium difficile infections: An executive summary of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology's elimination guide. American Journal of Infection Control. 2011;39:239.
- Surawicz CM, et al. Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of Clostridium difficile infections. The American Journal of Gastroenterology. In press. Accessed March 25, 2013.
- Wanke CA. Approach to the adult with acute diarrhea in developed countries. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 2, 2013.
- Hempel S, et al. Probiotics for the Prevention and Treatment of Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2012;307:1959.
- Rohren CH (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 8, 2013.
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