Start by making an appointment with your family doctor or a general practitioner if you have signs or symptoms of gastritis. If your doctor suspects you may have gastritis, you may be referred to a specialist in digestive disorders (gastroenterologist).
Because appointments can be brief, and because there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to be well 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.
- Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
- Make a list of all medications, as well as any vitamins or supplements, that you're taking.
- Consider taking a family member or friend along. Sometimes it can be difficult to absorb 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 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 gastritis, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What is likely causing my symptoms or condition?
- What are other possible causes for my symptoms or condition?
- What kinds of tests do I need?
- Is my condition likely temporary or chronic?
- What is the best course of action?
- What are the alternatives to the primary approach that you're suggesting?
- I have these other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
- Are there any restrictions that I need to follow?
- Should I see a specialist? What will that cost, and will my insurance cover it?
- Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing me?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
- What will determine whether I should plan for a follow-up visit?
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, as well. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:
- What are your symptoms?
- How severe are your symptoms? For instance, would you describe your stomach pain as "mildly uncomfortable" or "burning"?
- Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- Does anything seem to worsen your symptoms? For instance, does eating certain foods increase your discomfort?
- Does anything seem to improve your symptoms? For instance, does eating certain foods or taking antacids or over-the-counter remedies decrease your discomfort?
- Have you experienced any recent weight loss?
- How often do you take pain relievers, such as aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen?
- How often do you drink alcohol?
- How would you rate your stress level?
- Have you noticed any black stools or blood in your stool?
- Have you ever had an ulcer?
What you can do in the meantime
Before your appointment, avoid drinking alcohol and eating any foods that seem to irritate your stomach, such as those that are spicy, acidic, fried or fatty. But talk to your doctor before stopping any prescription medications you're taking.
Apr. 09, 2011
- Lee EL, et al. Gastritis and gastropathies. In: Feldman M, et al. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease: Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, Management. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4160-6189-2..X0001-7--TOP&isbn=978-1-4160-6189-2&about=true&uniqId=229935664-2192. Accessed March 9, 2011.
- American College of Gastroenterology guideline on the management of Helicobacter pylori infection. Bethesda, Md.: American College of Gastroenterology. http://www.acg.gi.org/physicians/guidelines/ManagementofHpylori.pdf. Accessed March 10, 2011.
- Gastritis. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/gastritis/index.htm. Accessed March 9, 2011.
- Guidelines for the management of dyspepsia. Bethesda, Md.: American College of Gastroenterology. http://www.acg.gi.org/physicians/guidelines/dyspepsia.pdf. Accessed March 10, 2011.
- H. pylori and peptic ulcers. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/hpylori/index.htm. Accessed March 9, 2011.
- FDA drug safety communication: Possible increased risk of fractures of the hip, wrist and spine with the use of proton pump inhibitors. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/PostmarketDrugSafetyInformationforPatientsandProviders/ucm213206.htm. Accessed March 10, 2011.