Preparing for your appointmentBy Mayo Clinic staff
It can be difficult to absorb all the information provided to you during an appointment, so you might want to arrange for a friend or family member to accompany you. Having two sets of ears at an appointment can be very helpful.
What you can do
Before your appointment, you may want to write a list that includes:
- Your signs and symptoms. Be thorough. While fatigue may be affecting you most, other symptoms — such as memory problems or headache — are also important to share with your doctor.
- Key personal information. Recent changes or major stressors in your life can play a very real role in your physical well-being.
- Health information. List any other conditions for which you're being treated and the names of any medications, vitamins or supplements you take regularly.
- Questions to ask your doctor. Creating your list of questions in advance can help you make the most of your time with your doctor.
For chronic fatigue syndrome, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What are the possible causes of my symptoms or condition?
- What tests do you recommend?
- If these tests don't pinpoint the cause of my symptoms, what additional tests might I need?
- On what basis would you make a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome?
- Are there any treatments or lifestyle changes that could help my symptoms now?
- What activity level should I aim for while we're seeking a diagnosis?
- Do you recommend that I also see a mental health provider?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment at any time that you don't understand something.
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:
- What are your symptoms and when did they begin?
- Does anything make your symptoms better or worse?
- Do you have problems with memory or concentration?
- Are you having problems sleeping?
- How often do you feel depressed or anxious?
- How much do your symptoms limit your ability to function? For example, have you ever had to miss school or work because of your symptoms?
- What treatments have you tried so far for this condition? How have they worked?
- Chronic fatigue syndrome: General information. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/cfs/general. Accessed April 20, 2011.
- Ebenbichler GR. Chronic fatigue syndrome. In: Frontera WR, et al. Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation: Musculoskeletal Disorders, Pain, and Rehabilitation. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2008. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/208746819-6/0/1678/0.html. Accessed April 20, 2011.
- Gluckman SJ. Clinical features and diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed April 20, 2011.
- Chronic fatigue syndrome: Causes. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/cfs/general/causes/index.html. Accessed April 20, 2011.
- Vincent A (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 4, 2011.
- Jones JF. Chronic fatigue syndrome. In: Bope ET, et al. Conn's Current Therapy. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4377-0986-5..C2009-0-38984-9--TOP&isbn=978-1-4377-0986-5&about=true&uniqId=236797353-5. Accessed April 21, 2011.
- Gluckman SJ. Treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed April 20, 2011.
- White PD, et al. Comparison of adaptive pacing therapy, cognitive behaviour therapy, graded exercise therapy, and specialist medical care for chronic fatigue syndrome (PACE): A randomised trial. The Lancet. 2011;377:823.
- Natural medicines in the clinical management of chronic fatigue syndrome. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase.com. Accessed April 22, 2011.
- Chronic pain and CAM: At a glance. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/pain/chronic.htm. Accessed April 22, 2011.
- CFS toolkit. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/cfs/toolkit/index.html. Accessed April 22, 2011.