Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Based on your signs and symptoms, you may be referred to a specialist in digestive diseases (gastroenterologist). If your signs and symptoms are severe, you may be directed to emergency medicine.

Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor.

What you can do

  • Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions, including restricting your diet or not taking certain medications.
  • 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 your key medical information, including the names of all medications that you're currently taking or that you've taken during the last month or so. Your doctor will also want to know about other conditions for which you've recently been treated, including any procedures or hospitalizations.
  • Take a family member or friend along to help remember things.
  • Write down questions to ask your doctor.

Some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

Questions to ask your doctor

  • What is likely causing my symptoms?
  • Are there any other possible causes for my condition?
  • What kinds of tests do I need?
  • Is my condition likely temporary or chronic?
  • What is the best course of action?
  • I have these other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
  • Is there anything I can do to prevent a recurrence of this condition?
  • If my symptoms do recur, what treatment options will be available?

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

What to expect from your doctor

Be ready to answer questions your doctor may ask:

  • During the last several weeks, have you taken antibiotics, had a surgical procedure or been hospitalized?
  • Is anyone at home sick with diarrhea, or has anyone at home been hospitalized in the last several weeks?
  • Have you ever been diagnosed with diarrhea related to C. difficile or antibiotics?
  • Do you have ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease?
  • Have you traveled recently to areas with an unsafe water supply?
  • When did you first begin experiencing signs and symptoms?
  • Have your symptoms stayed the same or gotten worse?
  • Are you having abdominal pain?
  • Do you have diarrhea? Is there blood or pus in your stools? Do you have a fever?
  • What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
  • Are you being treated for any other medical conditions?

What you can do in the meantime

While you're waiting for your appointment, drink plenty of fluids and stick to bland foods to help you cope with diarrhea.

Dec. 05, 2012