Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Because doctor's appointments can be brief, and because there's often a lot of ground to cover, 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.

  • Write down any symptoms you've had, 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.
  • Make a list of all medications, vitamins and supplements that you're taking.
  • Take a family member or friend along, if possible. Sometimes it can be difficult to remember all the information provided to you during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may recall 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 will help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. Some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • Is my condition likely caused by a food allergy or another reaction?
  • What kinds of tests do I need?
  • Is my condition likely temporary or long lasting?
  • What types of treatment are available, and which do you recommend?
  • What are the alternatives to the primary approach that you're suggesting?
  • I have these other health conditions. How can I best manage these conditions together?
  • Are there any dietary restrictions that I need to follow?
  • Should I see a specialist? What will that cost, and will my insurance cover seeing a specialist?
  • Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing me?
  • Do you have any printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend visiting?

If your child is seeing the doctor for a food allergy, you may also want to ask:

  • Is my child likely to outgrow his or her allergy?
  • Are there alternatives to the food or foods that trigger my child's allergy symptoms?
  • How can I help keep my child with a food allergy safe at school?

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 save time to go over any points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:

  • When did you begin experiencing symptoms?
  • How severe were your symptoms?
  • How long did it take symptoms to appear after eating the food you suspect you're allergic to?
  • Did you take any over-the-counter allergy medications such as antihistamines, and if so, did they help?
  • Does your reaction always seem to be triggered by a certain food?
  • How much food did you eat before the reaction?
  • Was the food that caused the reaction cooked or raw?
  • Do you know how the food was prepared?
  • What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?

What you can do in the meantime

If you suspect you have a food allergy, avoid exposure to the food altogether until your doctor's appointment. If you do eat the food and have a mild reaction, over-the-counter antihistamines may help relieve symptoms. If you have a more severe reaction and any signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis, seek emergency help.

Feb. 12, 2014