If you have any signs or symptoms that worry you, see your primary care physician. If you're diagnosed with polycythemia vera, you may be referred to a doctor who specializes in blood conditions (hematologist).
Because appointments can be brief, and because there's often a lot of ground to cover, 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. At the time 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.
- Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements that you're taking.
- Take a family member or friend along. Sometimes it can be difficult to remember all of 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.
Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions can help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. For polycythemia vera, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What's the most likely cause of my symptoms?
- What kinds of tests do I need?
- Is this condition temporary, or will I always have it?
- What treatments are available, and which do you recommend for me?
- I have these other health conditions. How can I best manage these conditions together?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
- Will I need follow-up visits? If so, how often?
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 allow time to cover other points you want to address. Your doctor may ask:
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- When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
- Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- How severe are your symptoms?
- What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
- What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
- Tefferi A. Diagnostic approach to the patient with suspected polycythemia vera. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 18, 2013.
- Polycythemia vera. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/poly/. Accessed Nov. 18, 2013.
- Tefferi A. Polycythemia vera and essential thrombocythemia: 2013 update on diagnosis, risk-stratification, and management. American Journal of Hematology. 2013;88:508.
- Soriano G, et al. Polycythemia vera and essential thrombocythemia: New developments in biology with therapeutic implications. Current Opinion in Hematology. 2013;20:169.
- Tefferi A. Prognosis and treatment of polycythemia vera. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 18, 2013.