Preparing for your appointmentBy Mayo Clinic staff
Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment and know what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions, such as not eating after midnight on the night before your appointment.
- Write down your symptoms, including when they started and how they may have changed or worsened over time.
- Take a list of all your medications, as well as any vitamins or supplements.
- Write down your key medical information, including other diagnosed conditions.
- Write down key personal information, including any recent changes or stressors in your life. These factors can be connected to digestive signs and symptoms.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Questions to ask your doctor
Some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What is the most likely cause of my condition?
- What kinds of tests do I need?
- What treatments can help?
- If I need surgery, what will my recovery be like?
- Are there any dietary restrictions that I need to follow? Would changing my diet help?
What to expect from your doctor
Be ready to answer some questions that your doctor may have:
- When did you begin experiencing symptoms?
- Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- How severe are your symptoms?
- Do you avoid any activities because of your symptoms?
- What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
- Does anything seem to make your symptoms worse?
- Do you have other conditions such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis or chronic constipation?
- Do you have diarrhea?
- Have you ever been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease?
- Have you ever had radiation therapy to your pelvic area?
- Were forceps used or did you have an episiotomy during childbirth?
- Do you also have urinary incontinence?
What you can do in the meantime
Avoid foods or activities that worsen your symptoms. This might include avoiding caffeine, fatty or greasy foods, dairy products, spicy foods, or anything that makes your incontinence worse.
- Feldman M, et al. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease: Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, Management. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4160-6189-2..X0001-7--TOP&isbn=978-1-4160-6189-2&about=true&uniqId=229935664-2192. Accessed Oct. 2, 2012.
- Fecal incontinence. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/fecalincontinence/index.aspx. Accessed Oct. 3, 2012.
- Bharucha AE. Recent advances in functional anorectal disorders. Current Gastroenterology Report. 2011;13:316.
- Whitehead WE, et al. Diagnosis and treatment of pelvic floor disorders: What's new and what's to do. Gastroenterology. 2010;138:1231.
- Goldman L, et al. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4377-1604-7..C2009-0-42832-0--TOP&isbn=978-1-4377-1604-7&uniqId=327451096-2. Accessed Oct. 3, 2012.