Preparing for your appointment

Make an appointment with your regular doctor if you have signs or symptoms that worry you. Your doctor may refer you to a specialist in the digestive system (gastroenterologist).

It's a good idea to be well-prepared for your appointment. Here's some information to help you get ready, and what you can expect from your doctor.

What you can do

  • Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. At the time you make the appointment, ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as restrict your diet. Certain medications can affect peptic ulcer tests, so your doctor may want you to stop taking them. He or she may be able to suggest alternatives to these drugs.
  • Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, as well as the food you're eating. People with peptic ulcers often experience more symptoms when their stomachs are empty.
  • Write down key personal information, including any other medical problems, major stresses or recent life changes.
  • Make a list of all medications, including over-the-counter medications, vitamins or supplements that you're taking. It's especially important to note any pain reliever use and the usual dose that you take.
  • Write down questions to ask your doctor.

For peptic ulcers, some questions you might want to ask your doctor include:

  • What's the most likely cause of my symptoms?
  • What kinds of tests do I need, and how do I need to prepare for them?
  • Is my condition likely temporary or chronic?
  • Am I at risk of complications related to this condition?
  • What treatment do you recommend?
  • If the initial treatment doesn't work, what will you recommend next?
  • Are there any dietary restrictions that I need to follow?
  • I have other medical problems. How can I manage these along with ulcers?

In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask other questions during your appointment.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over points you want to cover. Your doctor may ask:

  • When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
  • Have your symptoms been continuous or intermittent?
  • How severe are your symptoms?
  • Are your symptoms worse when you're hungry?
  • What, if anything, have you been taking to relieve your symptoms?
  • Does anything seem to improve your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
  • Do you take pain relievers or aspirin? If yes, how often?
  • Do you feel nauseated or have you been vomiting?
  • Have you ever vomited blood or black material?
  • Have you noticed blood in your stool or black stools?

What you can do in the meantime

While you're waiting to see your doctor, avoiding tobacco, alcohol, spicy foods and stress may help lessen your discomfort.