Preparing for your appointment

If you have signs and symptoms of hemorrhoids, make an appointment with your regular doctor. Depending on your signs and symptoms, your doctor may refer you to one or more specialists — including a doctor with expertise in the digestive system (gastroenterologist) or a colon and rectal surgeon — for evaluation and treatment.

You can help your doctor by being prepared with as much information as possible. Here are some suggestions to help you get ready for your appointment.

What you can do

  • Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. At the time you make the appointment, ask if there's anything you need to do in advance.
  • Write down any symptoms you're experiencing and how long you've noticed them.
  • Write down key personal information, including typical bowel habits and diet, especially your fiber intake.
  • Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements that you're taking.
  • Write down questions to ask your doctor.

For hemorrhoids, some questions you might want to ask your doctor include:

  • What's the likely cause of my symptoms?
  • Is my condition likely to be temporary or permanent?
  • Am I at risk of complications related to this condition?
  • What treatment approach do you recommend?
  • If treatments we try first don't work, what will you recommend next?
  • Am I a candidate for surgery? Why or why not?
  • Are there any additional self-care steps that might help?
  • I have other medical problems. How can I manage these along with hemorrhoids?

In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask other 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 points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:

  • When did your symptoms first occur?
  • How uncomfortable are your symptoms?
  • What are your typical bowel habits?
  • How much fiber does your diet contain?
  • What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
  • Has anyone in your family ever had hemorrhoids or cancer of the colon, rectum or anus?
  • Have you had a change in your bowel habits?
  • During bowel movements, have you noticed blood on your toilet paper, dripping into the toilet or mixed into your stools?

What you can do in the meantime

In the time before your appointment, take steps to soften your stools. Eat more high-fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and consider trying an over-the-counter fiber supplement, such as Metamucil and Citrucel. Drinking six to eight glasses of water a day also may help soften your stools and relieve your symptoms.

Sept. 29, 2016
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