Preparing for your appointment

You're likely to start by seeing your family doctor, or you may be referred to a doctor who specializes in digestive diseases (gastroenterologist). Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment and know what to expect from your doctor.

What you can do

  • Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions, such as not eating solid food on the day before your appointment.
  • Write down your symptoms, including when they started and how they may have changed or worsened over time.
  • Take a list of all your medications, vitamins or supplements.
  • Write down your key medical information, including other diagnosed conditions.
  • Write down key personal information, including any recent changes or stressors in your life, as well as a detailed description of your typical daily diet.
  • Write down questions to ask your doctor.

Some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • What's the most likely cause of my symptoms?
  • Do you think my condition is temporary or chronic?
  • What kinds of tests do I need?
  • What treatments can help?
  • Are there any dietary restrictions that I need to follow?
  • Could any of my medications be causing my symptoms?

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

Be ready to answer questions your doctor may ask:

  • When did you first begin experiencing symptoms, and how severe are they?
  • Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
  • What, if anything, seems to improve or worsen your symptoms?
  • What medications and pain relievers do you take?
  • What do you eat and drink, including alcohol, in a typical day?
  • How have you been feeling emotionally?
  • Do you use tobacco? If so, do you smoke, chew or both?
  • Are your symptoms better or worse on an empty stomach?
  • Have you vomited blood or black material?
  • Have you had any changes in your bowel habits, including stools turning black?
  • Have you lost weight?
  • Have you had nausea or vomiting or both?
Aug. 24, 2016
References
  1. Feldman M, et al. Dyspepsia. In: Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease: Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, Management. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2016. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Jan. 6, 2016.
  2. Talley MJ, et al. Functional Dyspepsia. New England Journal of Medicine. 2015;373:1852.
  3. Indigestion. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/indigestion/index.aspx. Accessed Jan. 28, 2016.
  4. Papadakis MA, et al., eds. Gastrointestinal disorders. In: Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment 2015. 54th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2015. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed Jan. 28, 2016.
  5. Dyspepsia. Merck Manual Professional Version. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/print/gastrointestinal_disorders/approach_to_the_patient_with_upper_gi_complaints/dyspepsia.html. Accessed Jan. 28, 2016.
  6. Overland MK. Dyspepsia. Medical Clinics of North America. 2014;98:549.
  7. Ottillinger B, et al. STW 5 (Iberogast) — A safe and effective standard in the treatment of functional gastrointestinal disorders. Wiener Medizinische Wochenschrift. 2013;163:65.
  8. Aucoin M, et al. Mindfulness-based therapies in the treatment of functional gastrointestinal disorders: A meta-analysis. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2014;2014:1.
  9. Kim KN, et al. Efficacy of acupuncture treatment for functional dyspepsia: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 2015;23:759.