Preparing for your appointmentBy Mayo Clinic staff
Make an appointment with your family doctor or general practitioner if you have signs or symptoms that worry you. If you're thought to have celiac disease, you may be referred to a doctor who treats diseases of the digestive tract (gastroenterologist).
Because appointments can be brief and 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 know 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 to prepare for any potential tests. One thing you won't want to do is to restrict your diet. If you stop eating foods that contain gluten prior to getting tested for celiac disease, you may alter the test results.
- 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, as well as any vitamins or supplements, that you're taking.
- 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 celiac disease, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What's the most likely cause of my symptoms?
- Are there other possible causes for my symptoms?
- What kinds of tests do I need? Do I need to do any special preparation for these tests?
- Are blood tests enough or do I need an endoscopy?
- Is my condition likely temporary or chronic?
- How do I treat celiac disease?
- Are there any other types of treatments available?
- How will I learn which foods contain gluten? Should I see a nutritionist?
- What foods can I eat?
- I have these other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
- If I have celiac disease, will you also test for other conditions such as osteoporosis, diabetes, thyroid problems or microscopic colitis?
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:
- When did you begin experiencing symptoms?
- Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- How severe are your symptoms?
- What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms? Does avoiding certain foods make you feel better?
- What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms? Does eating certain foods make you feel worse?
- Does anyone in your family have celiac disease?
- Do you have an autoimmune disease?
- Does anyone in your family have an autoimmune disease?
- Have you ever had surgery on your abdomen?
- Have you ever had pancreas problems, such as pancreatitis?
- Have you had any blistering or itchy skin rashes with your symptoms?
- Have you been told you have anemia and been given iron therapy?
- Do you have osteoporosis?
- Farrel RJ, et al. Celiac disease and refractory celiac disease. In: Feldman M, et al. Sleisinger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/book/player/linkTo?type=bookHome&isbn=978-1-4160-6189-2&eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4160-6189-2..X0001-7--TOP&uniq=200844987-3. Accessed Nov. 2, 2010.
- Ferri FF. Celiac disease. In: Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2011. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/book/player/book.do?method=display&type=aboutPage&decorator=header&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05610-6..C2009-0-38600-6--TOP&isbn=978-0-323-05610-6&uniq=210978719. Accessed Nov. 2, 2010.
- Rubio-Tapia A, et al. Celiac disease. Current Opinion in Gastroenterology. 2010;26:116.
- Celiac disease nutrition therapy. ADA Nutrition Care Manual. http://nutritioncaremanual.org/index.cfm. Accessed Nov. 2, 2010.
- Celiac disease. National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/celiac/index.htm. Accessed Nov. 4, 2010.