Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

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. Also mention if you have been hospitalized in the last few months.
  • 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, including whether you usually use caffeine and alcohol.
  • Write down questions to ask your doctor.

Questions to ask your doctor

Some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • What is the most likely cause of my condition?
  • Do you think my condition is temporary or chronic?
  • What kinds of tests do I need?
  • What treatments can help?
  • If I need surgery, what will my recovery be like?
  • Are there any dietary restrictions that I need to follow? Would changing my diet help?

Don't hesitate to ask questions any time you don't understand something.

What to expect from your doctor

Be ready to answer questions your doctor is likely to ask you:

  • When did you begin experiencing symptoms?
  • Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
  • How many loose bowel movements are you having each day?
  • How severe are your other symptoms, such as abdominal cramping and nausea?
  • Has there been blood in your stools?
  • Have you lost any weight?
  • Have you traveled recently?
  • Is anyone else sick at home with diarrhea?
  • Have you been hospitalized or taken antibiotics in the last few months?
  • What medications are you currently taking, and were any started in the weeks before your diarrhea began?
  • What do you eat in a typical day?
  • Do you use caffeine or alcohol? How much?
  • Do you have celiac disease? If so, are you following a gluten-free diet?
  • Do you have diabetes or thyroid disease?
  • What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, seems to worsen your symptoms?

What you can do in the meantime

You may find some relief from persistent diarrhea by making changes to your diet:

  • Eat bland, low-fat foods.
  • Avoid dairy products, spicy foods, caffeine and alcohol.
Jan. 30, 2013