Preparing for your appointment

Start by making an appointment with your family doctor or a general practitioner if you have signs and symptoms that worry you. If your doctor suspects you may have a liver problem, such as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, you may be referred to a doctor who specializes in the liver (hepatologist).

Because appointments can be brief, it's a good idea to be well-prepared. Here's some information to help you get ready, and what to expect from your doctor.

What you can do

  • Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. When you make the appointment, be sure to ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as restrict your diet.
  • Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
  • Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements that you're taking.
  • Take any relevant medical records, such as records of any tests you've had that relate to your current condition.
  • Take a family member or friend along. Sometimes it can be difficult to absorb all the information provided during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
  • Write down questions to ask your doctor.

If you find out you have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, some basic questions to ask include:

  • Is the fat in my liver hurting my health?
  • Will my fatty liver disease progress to a more serious form?
  • What are my treatment options?
  • What can I do to keep my liver healthy?
  • I have other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
  • Should I see a specialist? Will my insurance cover it?
  • Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
  • Should I plan for a follow-up visit?

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

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

  • Have you experienced any symptoms, such as yellowing of the eyes or skin and pain or swelling in your abdomen?
  • If you had tests done at that time, what were the results?
  • Do you drink alcohol?
  • What medications do you take, including over-the-counter drugs and supplements?
  • Have you ever been told that you have hepatitis?
  • Do other people in your family have liver disease?