Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Make an appointment with your family doctor if you have any signs or symptoms that worry you. You may be referred to a specialist in digestive diseases (gastroenterologist), or to another specialist, depending on your symptoms. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, 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. Learn if you have any liver disease in your family by asking your family members, if possible.
  • Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements that you're taking.
  • Take a family member or friend along to help you remember things.
  • Write down questions to ask your doctor.

Questions to ask your doctor

Some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • What is likely causing my symptoms or condition?
  • Are there 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?
  • Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?

Don't hesitate to ask other questions during your appointment.

What to expect from your doctor

Be ready to answer questions your doctor may ask:

  • When did you 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?
  • Does anyone in your family have hemochromatosis?
  • How many alcoholic beverages do you drink in a week?
  • Are you taking iron supplements or vitamin C?
  • Do you have a history of viral hepatitis, such as hepatitis C?
Dec. 13, 2012

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