You may find out you have essential thrombocythemia after a routine blood test shows a high number of platelets. Or you may see your doctor because of symptoms related to blood clotting or bleeding.
Besides taking your medical history, examining you physically and running tests, your doctor may ask you about factors that could affect your platelets, such as recent medical procedures, blood transfusions or infections. Your doctor may refer you to a doctor who specializes in blood diseases (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 your health history, including your history of blood clots or bleeding incidents. Also include any family history of high platelet counts.
- Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
- Make a list of all medications, as well as any vitamins or supplements, that you're taking. Some medications, such as oral contraceptives, can increase the risk of blood clots in women with essential thrombocythemia.
- Take a family member or friend along. Sometimes it can be difficult to take in all the information you hear 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 will help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. For essential thrombocythemia, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What kinds of tests do I need?
- Should I see a specialist? What will that cost, and will my insurance cover it?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend visiting?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions that arise during your appointment if you don't understand something or need more information.
Sept. 22, 2012
- Thrombocythemia. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/print/hematology_and_oncology/myeloproliferative_disorders/essential_thrombocythemia.html. Accessed Aug. 8, 2012.
- Tefferi A. Diagnosis and clinical manifestations of essential thrombocythemia. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Aug. 8, 2012.
- What are thrombocythemia and thrombocytosis? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/thrm. Accessed Aug. 8, 2012.
- Essential thrombocythemia. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/myeloproliferative/HealthProfessional/page5. Accessed Aug. 8, 2012.
- Tefferi A. Prognosis and treatment of essential thrombocythemia. http://www.uptodate.com/index.html. Accessed Aug. 8, 2012.
- Myeloproliferative disorders. Lab Tests Online. http://labtestsonline.org/understanding/conditions/myelopro-disorders/start/2. Accessed Aug. 8, 2012.
- Valera MC, et al. Essential thrombocythemia and pregnancy. European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology. 2011;158:141.
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