You're likely to start by first seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner. 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.
Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions will help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out.
For blastocystis infection, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What is likely causing my symptoms?
- Are there other possible causes for my symptoms?
- Do I need any tests?
- What treatment do you recommend?
- Are there alternatives to the approach you're suggesting?
- Are there any dietary restrictions I need to follow?
- Do I need to see a specialist?
- 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 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?
- Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- How severe are your symptoms?
- What, if anything, seems 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 no oral rehydration solutions are available, you can make your own by combining 1 quart (about 1 liter) of bottled or boiled water with 6 level teaspoons (about 30 milliliters) of table sugar and 1/2 level teaspoon (about 2.5 milliliters) of table salt.
Anti-diarrheal medications aren't generally recommended, because they can make some diarrheal illnesses worse.
Jan. 25, 2013
- Coyle CM, et al. Blastocystis: To treat or not to treat... Clinical Practice. 2012;54:105.
- Blastocystis spp. Frequently asked questions. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/blastocystis/faqs.html. Accessed Oct. 5, 2012.
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4. Accessed Oct. 5, 2012.
- Zhang X, et al. In vitro culture of Blastocystis hominis in three liquid media and its usefulness in the diagnosis of blastocystosis. International Journal of Infectious Diseases. In press. Accessed Oct. 5, 2012.
- Leder K, et al. Blastocystis species. www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Oct. 5, 2012.
- Oral rehydration solutions: Made at home. Rehydration Project. http://rehydrate.org/solutions/homemade.htm. Accessed Oct. 5, 2012.
- Travelers' diarrhea. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dbmd/diseaseinfo/travelersdiarrhea_g.htm. Accessed Oct. 5, 2012.
- Backer HD. Water disinfection for travelers. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2012/chapter-2-the-pre-travel-consultation/water-disinfection-for-travelers.htm. Accessed Oct. 6, 2012.
- Watson JC, et al. Food and water precautions. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2012/chapter-2-the-pre-travel-consultation/food-and-water-precautions.htm. Accessed Oct. 6, 2012.
- Handwashing: Clean hands save lives. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/. Accessed Oct. 6, 2012.
- Steckelberg JM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Oct. 24, 2012.
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