Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Go the emergency room if you have severe abdominal pain that makes you so uncomfortable that you can't sit still. You may be referred for immediate surgery to diagnose and treat your condition.

If your abdominal pain is moderate and predictable — for example, it always begins soon after eating — call your doctor for an appointment. When you call to set up an appointment, you may be referred to a specialist, such as a gastroenterologist or vascular surgeon.

Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment.

What you can do

  • Ask about pre-appointment restrictions. When you make your appointment, ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as restrict your diet. It's likely your doctor will ask you not to eat after midnight the night before your appointment.
  • Write down your symptoms, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
  • Write down other medical conditions, such as a blood clot, or procedures you've had.
  • List all medications, vitamins and supplements you take. If you take birth control pills, write down the drug's name.
  • Take a family member or friend along. Someone who accompanies you can help you remember what your doctor says.
  • Write down questions to ask your doctor.

For intestinal ischemia, some questions to ask your doctor include:

  • What is likely causing my condition?
  • What are the possible causes?
  • Do you think my condition is temporary or chronic?
  • What tests do I need?
  • What treatments do I need?
  • If I need surgery, what will my recovery be like? How long will I be in the hospital?
  • How will my diet and lifestyle change after surgery?
  • What follow-up care and treatments will I need?
  • Should I see a specialist?
  • Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing?
  • Are there brochures or other printed material I can have? What websites do you recommend?

Don't hesitate to ask other questions.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor may ask:

  • When did your symptoms begin?
  • Have your symptoms stayed the same or gotten worse?
  • Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
  • How severe are your symptoms?
  • How soon after eating do your symptoms begin?
  • Do you tolerate small meals better than large ones?
  • Are liquids easier to tolerate than solids?
  • What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
  • Do you or did you smoke? How much?
  • Have you lost weight?
Aug. 15, 2015