Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Unless you require emergency care, you're likely to start by seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner. However, in some cases when you call to set up an appointment, you may be referred immediately to a lung specialist (pulmonologist).

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

What you can do

  • Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
  • Recall when symptoms began and what you were doing at the time. Ask young children in a nonthreatening way about things they have put in their mouths.
  • Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements you're taking. Some medications, such as antihistamines, can make your secretions thicker and more difficult to cough out.
  • Bring a sample of your sputum in a small container.
  • Take a family member or friend along, if possible, to help you remember everything that is said.
  • Write down questions to ask your doctor.

Questions to ask your doctor

  • What is likely causing my symptoms or condition?
  • Other than the most likely cause, 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 approach 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?
  • Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend?

Don't hesitate to ask other questions during your appointment if you don't understand something or need more information.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, including:

  • When did you begin experiencing symptoms?
  • Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
  • How severe are your symptoms?
  • Have you had a fever?
  • What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
Jul. 14, 2012