Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

You're likely to start by seeing your family doctor or a primary care provider. However, in some cases when you call to set up an appointment, you may be referred to an allergist or other specialist.

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:

  • Write down any symptoms you've had, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment. Also write down when the symptoms occur, and what seems to trigger them.
  • Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
  • Make a list of all medications that you're taking, including any vitamins or supplements.
  • Arrange to take a family member or friend along, if possible. Sometimes it can be difficult to recall 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.

Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions ahead of time 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 hay fever, some basic questions to ask include:

  • What is likely causing my symptoms?
  • Other than the most likely cause, 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 some alternatives to the 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?
  • Are there any over-the-counter medications you recommend?
  • Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing me?
  • Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home? What websites do you recommend?

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

  • When did you begin noticing 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?
  • Do any of your first-degree relatives (such as a parent or sibling) have hay fever of other types of allergies?
  • Have your symptoms been interfering with your daily activity, such as work, school or hobbies?
  • Do you get headaches?
  • Have you had a loss of smell or taste?
  • Have you been coughing or wheezing? If so, do you cough anything up?
  • Do you snore or have trouble sleeping?

What you can do in the meantime

If you don't see your doctor right away, over-the-counter remedies may help ease symptoms. A number of medications are available that may help relieve your hay fever symptoms. They include pills, liquids, nasal sprays and eyedrops.

July 17, 2012