Whom to see
Make an appointment with your family doctor or a general practitioner if you have signs or symptoms that worry you. If your doctor suspects that you have vasculitis, you may be referred to a specialist. What specialist you'll see depends on what type of vasculitis you have.
Specialists who treat vasculitis include:
- Brain and nervous system doctors (neurologists)
- Eye doctors (ophthalmologists)
- Heart doctors (cardiologists)
- Infectious diseases doctors
- Joint and muscle doctors (rheumatologists)
- Kidney doctors (nephrologists)
- Lung doctors (pulmonologists)
- Skin doctors (dermatologists)
How to prepare
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. Try to:
- 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.
- Consider taking 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.
Questions to ask
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 vasculitis, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What type of vasculitis do I have?
- What's causing my vasculitis?
- Will I need more tests?
- Is my vasculitis acute or chronic?
- Will my vasculitis go away on its own?
- Is my vasculitis serious?
- Has any part of my body been seriously damaged by vasculitis?
- Can my vasculitis be cured?
- What are my treatment options?
- What are the benefits and risks of each treatment?
- Is there one treatment you feel is best for me?
- How long will treatment last?
- I have another medical condition. How can I best manage these conditions together?
- Should I see a specialist? What will that cost, and will my insurance cover it?
- Are there brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
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 spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:
Oct. 08, 2011
- 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?
- What is vasculitis? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/vas/. Accessed Sept. 9, 2011.
- Sharma P, et al. Systemic vasculitis. American Family Physician. 2011;83:556.
- Langford CA. Vasculitis. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 2010;125:S216.
- Langford CA, et al. The vasculitis syndromes. In: Fauci AS, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=9138083. Accessed Sept. 9, 2011.
- Miller A, et al. An approach to the diagnosis and management of systemic vasculitis. Clinical and Experimental Immunology. 2010;160:143.
- Rituxan (prescribing information). San Francisco, Calif.: Genentech; 2011. http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2011/103705s5344lbl.pdf. Accessed Sept. 19, 2011.
- Chang-Miller A (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Sept. 19, 2011.
- Falk RJ, et al. Granulomatosis with polyangiitis (Wegener's): An alternative name for Wegener's granulomatosis. Arthritis and Rheumatism. 2011;63:863.