Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

You may be referred to a doctor who specializes in the digestive system (gastroenterologist).

What you can do

  • Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions, such as fasting before your appointment.
  • Write down your symptoms, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason why you scheduled the appointment.
  • Write down any triggers to your symptoms, such as specific foods.
  • Make a list of all your medications, vitamins and supplements.
  • Write down your key medical information, including other conditions.
  • Write down key personal information, including any recent changes or stressors in your life.
  • Write down questions to ask your doctor.
  • Ask a relative or friend to accompany you, to help you remember what the doctor says.

Questions to ask your doctor

  • What's the most likely cause of my symptoms?
  • What tests do I need? Is there any special preparation for them?
  • Is my condition likely temporary or chronic?
  • What treatments are available?
  • What types of foods are likely to make my symptoms worse?
  • I have other health problems. How can I best manage these conditions together?

In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask other questions.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may leave time to go over points you want to spend more time on. You may be asked:

  • When did you begin experiencing symptoms? How severe are they?
  • Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
  • What, if anything, seems to improve or worsen your symptoms?
  • Does exertion bring on your chest pain?
  • Is your chest pain associated with arm or jaw pain, shortness of breath, or nausea?
  • Are your symptoms related to eating? Are they triggered by any particular food or type of food?
  • Do you experience symptoms of heartburn after eating, such as a burning sensation in your chest or an acid taste in your mouth?
  • Do you ever wake up during the night with heartburn, chest pain or an acid taste in your mouth?
  • Do you have difficulty swallowing food, or have you had to change your diet to avoid difficulty swallowing?
Oct. 21, 2015