Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

If you call your family doctor, he or she may refer you to a specialist, depending on which of your organ systems is affected by the infection. For example, a dermatologist specializes in skin conditions, while a pulmonologist treats lung disorders.

What you can do

You may want to write a list that includes:

  • Detailed descriptions of your symptoms
  • Information about medical problems you've had
  • Information about your parents' or siblings' medical problems
  • All the medications and dietary supplements you take
  • Questions you want to ask the doctor

Preparing a list of questions for your doctor will help you make the most of your time together. For infectious diseases, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • What is likely causing my symptoms or condition?
  • 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 the alternatives to the primary approach 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?
  • Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing?
  • Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend?

Don't hesitate to ask any other questions that occur to you.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, including:

  • When did you begin experiencing symptoms?
  • Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
  • How severe are your symptoms?
  • Have you recently come into contact with anyone who's sick?
  • Have you been bitten or scratched by an animal or come into contact with animal feces?
  • Do you have any insect bites?
  • Have you eaten undercooked meat or unwashed vegetables?
  • Have you been out of the country recently?
Jan. 23, 2013