Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Make an appointment with your doctor if you have symptoms that are common to gout. After an initial examination, your doctor may refer you to a specialist in the diagnosis and treatment of arthritis and other inflammatory joint conditions (rheumatologist).

Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor.

What you can do

  • Write down your symptoms, including when they started and how often they occur.
  • Note important personal information, such as any recent changes or major stressors in your life.
  • Make a list of your key medical information, including any other conditions for which you're being treated and the names of any medications, vitamins or supplements you're taking. Your doctor will also want to know if you have any family history of gout.
  • 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 remember something that you missed or forgot.
  • Write down questions to ask your doctor. Creating your list of questions in advance can help you make the most of your time with your doctor.

Questions to ask the doctor at the initial appointment include:

  • What are the possible causes of my symptoms or condition?
  • What tests do you recommend?
  • If these tests don't pinpoint the cause of my symptoms, what additional tests might I need?
  • Are there any treatments or lifestyle changes that might help my symptoms now?
  • Do I need to follow any restrictions while we're seeking a diagnosis?
  • Should I see a specialist?

Questions to ask if you are referred to a rheumatologist include:

  • Do I have gout?
  • What treatments are most likely to help me feel better?
  • What are the possible side effects of the drugs you're prescribing?
  • If these drugs cause serious side effects or fail to work, what will we try next?
  • How soon after beginning treatment should my symptoms start to improve?
  • Do I need to take medications long term?
  • I have these other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
  • Do you recommend any changes to my diet?
  • Is it safe for me to drink alcohol?
  • Are there any handouts or websites that you'd recommend for me to learn more about my condition?

If any additional questions occur to you during your medical appointments, don't hesitate to ask.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over any points you want to talk about in-depth. Your doctor may ask:

  • What are your symptoms?
  • In what part of your body do your symptoms occur?
  • When did you first experience these symptoms?
  • Do your symptoms come and go? How often?
  • Does anything in particular seem to trigger your symptoms, such as certain foods or physical or emotional stress?
  • Are you being treated for any other medical conditions?
  • What medications are you currently taking, including over-the-counter and prescription drugs as well as vitamins and supplements?
  • Do any of your first-degree relatives — such as a parent or sibling — have a history of gout?
  • What do you eat in a typical day?
  • Do you drink alcohol? If so, how much and how often?
  • What else concerns you?
Dec. 06, 2011