Preparing for your appointmentBy Mayo Clinic staff
If you have any signs or symptoms that worry you, start by making an appointment with your primary care doctor. If your doctor suspects you may have a liver problem, such as autoimmune hepatitis, you may be referred to a specialist in liver diseases (hepatologist).
Because appointments can be brief, and because there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to be prepared for your appointment. 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 to help you remember everything that was discussed.
- 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 appointment. For autoimmune hepatitis, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What's the most likely cause of my symptoms?
- Are there any other possible causes?
- What tests do I need to confirm that I have autoimmune hepatitis?
- How severe is the damage to my liver?
- Is my condition likely temporary or chronic?
- What are my treatment options?
- Can treatment cure my autoimmune hepatitis?
- What are the potential side effects of each treatment option?
- I have these other health conditions. How can I best manage these conditions together?
- Could any of my medications or habits cause my liver problems or make my liver problems worse?
- Are there any dietary restrictions that I need to follow?
- Should I see a specialist?
- Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing me?
- 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, when?
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 any points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:
- When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
- Have your symptoms been continuous, or occasional?
- How severe are your symptoms?
- Does anything seem to improve or worsen your symptoms?
- Are you taking any medicines or treatments for your symptoms?
- Do you have a family history of liver disease?
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- Autoimmune hepatitis. National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/autoimmunehep/. Accessed Feb. 9, 2012.
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- Teufel A, et al. Concurrent autoimmune diseases in patients with autoimmune hepatitis. Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology. 2010;44:208.