Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

If you think you have diverticular disease, you're likely to start by seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner, or possibly an emergency room doctor. However, you may then be referred to a doctor who specializes in disorders of the digestive system (gastroenterologist).

Because appointments can be brief, and there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to be 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.
  • Make a list of all medications, as well as any vitamins or supplements that you're taking, and bring it with you to your appointment.
  • Consider asking a family member or friend to come with you. Sometimes it can be difficult to remember 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 may help you make the most of your time together. For diverticulitis, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • What's the most likely cause of my symptoms?
  • Are there other possible causes for my symptoms?
  • What kinds of tests do I need? Do these tests require any special preparation?
  • What treatments are available, and which do you recommend?
  • Are there any alternatives to the approach that you're suggesting?
  • Will the diverticulitis come back?
  • Are there any dietary restrictions that I need to follow?
  • Are there certain foods I need to add to my diet?
  • Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
  • Should I have a colonoscopy, and if so, when?

In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask any questions that may occur to you during your appointment.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Your doctor may ask:

  • When did you begin experiencing symptoms?
  • Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
  • How severe are your symptoms?
  • How much fiber do you usually eat in a day?
  • Do you take any over-the-counter fiber supplements?
  • How much exercise do you get during a week?
  • Do you have a fever?
  • Have you had any pain with urination or passing air in your urine?
  • Have you had a vaginal discharge or passed stool through the vagina?
  • Have you ever had a colonoscopy?
May. 21, 2011

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