Preparing for your appointment

You're likely to start by seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner. In some cases, your doctor may refer you to a neurologist.

Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment.

What you can do

When you make the appointment, ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as fasting before having a specific test. Make a list of:

  • Your symptoms, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment, and when they began
  • Key personal information, including other conditions you have and family medical history
  • All medications, vitamins or supplements you take, including doses
  • Questions to ask your doctor

Take a family member or friend along, if possible, to help you remember the information you get.

For ataxia, basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • What is likely causing my symptoms?
  • Other than the most likely cause, what are other possible causes?
  • What tests do I need?
  • Is my condition likely temporary or chronic?
  • What's the best course of action?
  • Are there devices that can help me with coordination?
  • I have other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
  • Are there restrictions I need to follow?
  • Should I see a specialist?
  • Are there brochures or other printed material I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
  • Do you know of ataxia research studies I might participate in?

Don't hesitate to ask other questions.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you questions, such as:

  • Are your symptoms continuous or occasional?
  • How severe are your symptoms?
  • What seems to improve your symptoms?
  • What seems to worsen your symptoms?
  • Do you have family members who have had these types of symptoms?
  • Do you use alcohol or drugs?
  • Have you been exposed to toxins?
  • Have you had a virus recently?

What you can do in the meantime

Don't drink alcohol or take recreational drugs, which can make your ataxia worse.

March 14, 2017
References
  1. NINDS ataxias and cerebellar or spinocerebellar degeneration information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/ataxia/ataxia.htm. Accessed Oct. 26, 2016.
  2. Todd PK. Overview of cerebellar ataxias in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 26, 2016.
  3. Perlman SL. Evaluation and management of ataxic disorders: An overview for physicians. National Ataxia Foundation. http://www.ataxia.org/resources/publications.aspx. Accessed Oct. 26, 2016.
  4. Ataxia telangiectasia. National Cancer Institute. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/genetics/ataxia-fact-sheet. Accessed Oct. 26, 2016.