Preparing for your appointmentBy Mayo Clinic staff
Whom to see
If your family doctor suspects you may have hepatitis B, you may be referred to a specialist. Doctors who specialize in treating people who have hepatitis B include:
- Doctors who treat digestive diseases (gastroenterologists)
- Doctors who treat liver diseases (hepatologists)
- Doctors who treat infectious diseases
How to prepare
Because appointments can be brief, and because 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 what to expect from your doctor.
- 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, as well as any vitamins or supplements, that you're taking.
- Consider taking a family member or friend along. Sometimes it can be difficult to recall all the information provided during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
Questions to ask
Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions can help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. For hepatitis B infection, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- Do I have hepatitis B?
- Has the hepatitis B virus damaged my liver?
- How much hepatitis B virus do I have in my body?
- Has the hepatitis B infection caused any other complications, such as kidney disease?
- Do I need treatment for hepatitis B infection?
- What are my treatment options?
- What are the benefits of each treatment option?
- What are the potential risks of each treatment option?
- Is there one treatment you think is best for me?
- I have these other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
- Should my family be tested for hepatitis B?
- Is it possible for me to spread hepatitis B to others?
- How can I protect the people around me from hepatitis B?
- Should I see a specialist?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
- Should I be tested for other infections, such as hepatitis C and HIV?
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may allow more time later to cover other points you want to address. 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?
- What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
- Have you ever had a blood transfusion?
- Do you inject drugs?
- Does your sexual partner have hepatitis B?
- Have you ever been diagnosed with hepatitis?
- Perillo R. Hepatitis B and D. In: 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 July 25, 2011.
- Lok ASF, et al. Chronic hepatitis B: Update 2009. Hepatology. 2009;50:1.
- Hepatitis B FAQs for the public. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/B/bFAQ.htm. Accessed July 25, 2011.
- What I need to know about hepatitis B. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/hepb_ez/. Accessed July 25, 2011.
- Hepatitis B. Lab Tests Online. http://labtestsonline.org/understanding/analytes/hepatitis-b/tab/glance. Accessed Aug. 1, 2011.
- Milk thistle. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/milkthistle/ataglance.htm. Accessed July 25, 2011.