Preparing for your appointment

You'll probably first see your primary care doctor. However, in some cases when you call to set up an appointment, you may be referred to an infectious disease specialist or someone who specializes in digestive system disorders (gastroenterologist).

Because appointments can be brief, it's a good idea to be well-prepared for your appointment. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, 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. Let your doctor know if you've recently traveled out of the country, especially if you traveled to a developing country.
  • Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements you're taking.
  • Write down questions to ask your doctor.

Preparing a list of questions can help you make the most of your time with your doctor. Some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • What's the most likely cause of my symptoms?
  • Are there other possible causes?
  • Do I need any tests?
  • What treatments are available, and which one do you recommend for me?
  • Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing me?
  • Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend?

In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask additional questions 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 reserve time to go over any points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:

  • When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
  • Do you have symptoms all the time or do they come and go?
  • How severe are your symptoms?
  • Does anything seem to improve your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
  • Have you traveled out of the country recently?
  • Do you have any other health conditions?

What you can do in the meantime

If your symptoms are related to blastocystis, they may go away on their own before you even see your doctor. Be sure to stay well-hydrated in the meantime. Oral rehydration solutions — available through drugstores and health agencies worldwide — can effectively replace lost fluids and electrolytes.

If oral rehydration solution isn't available, you can make your own by combining 5 cups (about 1 liter) of bottled or boiled water with 6 level teaspoons (about 34 grams) of table sugar and 1/2 level teaspoon (about 3 grams) of table salt.

Anti-diarrheal medications aren't generally recommended, because they can make some diarrheal illnesses worse.

Jan. 07, 2016
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