Prepare Yourself for A Doctor's Appointment
In addition to writing for Health Central I also work with the Pediatric Adolescent gastroesophageal Reflux Association (PAGER), first as a volunteer and then as the Volunteer Services Coordinator. In total I have spent almost 10 years helping families negotiate the "reflux roller coaster". During this time one of the many things that parents or patients want to know is how to prepare for a visit with their doctor. In this blog we will go over a few tips to make the most out of every appointment.
First and foremost, make sure your current physician has all of the pertinent medical records they need to address your concerns. Many patients seeking diagnosis for stomach pain see several different doctors or specialists. It is important that they each know what the other has done. This not only helps aid in diagnosis and treatment by keeping everyone "on the same page" it can also save you time and money by preventing repetitious testing.
Provide your doctor with a list of your current medications as well as dosages at each visit. This is especially important if you have more than one physician prescribing your medications. Be sure to list all of your medications, not just the GI related ones. Many medications can interact or effect each other and it is important for your doctor to have all of the information. As a side note, medication interactions can also be prevented by using the same pharmacy for all of your prescriptions.
Bring a detailed list of symptoms to your appointment. It helps to put these things in writing because it can be easy to forget or overlook something while you are in your doctor's office. Be sure to let your doctor know if you have had any of the following symptoms:
Changes in bowel movements
Nausea or vomiting
Unintentional weight loss
History of ulcers or other GI issues
History of taking pain medications, specifically ibuprofen, aspirin or naproxen
Pain that is worse upon movement
Pain that is worse when you press on a certain spot
Pain that is worse when hungry or that has a "gnawing" feeling
Upper right sided pain
Presence of blood in the stool or vomit
If you have questions for your doctor be prepared ahead of time. Should you think you will need extra time at your visit let the person scheduling your appointment know so that they can allot for that time. Repeated issues communicating with your doctor may be a sign that the doctor is not a good fit for you. Don't be afraid to find a physician with whom you can better communicate. Good communication and a little preparation before a visit can make all the difference.