You may start by seeing your primary care doctor. He or she may refer you to an eye specialist (ophthalmologist) if you're having visual symptoms, a brain and nervous system specialist (neurologist) if you're having headaches, or a specialist in diseases of the joints, bones and muscles (rheumatologist).
You may want to take a friend or family member with you to the appointment. Sometimes it can be difficult to remember all the information provided. Having someone with you may help you remember something that you missed or forgot.
Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment.
What you can do
Before your appointment make a list 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. For some tests involved in diagnosing giant cell arteritis, you may need to follow special instructions before the appointment.
- Symptoms you've been having, including those that seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
- All medications, vitamins and supplements you take, including doses.
- Questions to ask your doctor.
For giant cell arteritis, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What's the most likely cause of my symptoms?
- What are other possible causes?
- What kinds of tests will I need to confirm the diagnosis? Do these tests require any special preparation?
- What are my treatment options?
- What types of side effects can I expect from the medication?
- How long do I need to stay on medication, and what's my long-term prognosis?
- Will giant cell arteritis come back?
- I have these other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
- Do I need to change my diet in any way? Do I need to take any supplements?
- Do you have any brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, such as:
- 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?
What you can do in the meantime
Ask your doctor if taking a pain reliever such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen (Aleve) might help ease head pain or tenderness.
Oct. 02, 2015
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- Mollan SP, et al. Aspirin as adjunctive treatment for giant cell arteritis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. http://ovidsp.tx.ovid.com/sp-3.16.Ob/ovidweb.cgi. Accessed Aug. 25, 2015.
- Chang-Miller A (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, Ariz. Sept. 3, 2015.