Preparing for your appointmentBy Mayo Clinic staff
Who to see
If you think you may have a risk of hepatitis C, see your family doctor or a general practitioner. Once you've been diagnosed with hepatitis C infection, your doctor may recommend you see a specialist. Specialists who see people with hepatitis C infection include:
- Doctors who specialize in infectious diseases
- Doctors who specialize in liver diseases (hepatologists)
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. To prepare, try to:
- 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 you're taking.
- Consider taking a family member or friend along. Sometimes it can be difficult to absorb 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 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 hepatitis C infection, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- How much hepatitis C virus do I have in my body?
- Has the hepatitis C virus damaged my liver?
- Do I need treatment for hepatitis C 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 other medical conditions. How will these affect my hepatitis C treatment?
- Should my family be tested for hepatitis C?
- Is it possible for me to spread hepatitis C to others?
- How can I protect the people around me from hepatitis C?
- Should I see a specialist? What will that cost, and will my insurance cover it?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
- What will determine whether I should plan for a follow-up visit?
- Is it safe for me to drink alcohol?
- What medications should I avoid?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment anytime 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 allow more time later to cover points you want to address. Your doctor may ask:
- When did you first 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 or an organ transplant? If so, when?
- Have you ever used self-injected drugs not prescribed by your doctor?
- Have you ever been diagnosed with hepatitis or jaundice?
- Dienstag JL. Chronic viral hepatitis. In: Mandell JE, et al. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-443-06839-3..X0001-X--TOP&isbn=978-0-443-06839-3&uniqId=230100505-57. Accessed April 5, 2011.
- O'Leary JG, et al. Hepatitis C. 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 April 5, 2011.
- Diagnosis, management and treatment of hepatitis C: An update. Alexandria, Va.: American Association for the Study of Liver Disease. http://www.aasld.org/practiceguidelines/Documents/Bookmarked%20Practice%20Guidelines/Diagnosis_of_HEP_C_Update.Aug%20_09pdf.pdf. Accessed April 5, 2011.
- Hepatitis C FAQs for the public. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/C/cFAQ.htm. Accessed April 5, 2011.
- CAM and hepatitis C: A focus on herbal supplements. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/hepatitisc. Accessed April 5, 2011.
- Hepatitis C. American Liver Foundation. http://www.liverfoundation.org/abouttheliver/info/hepatitisc/. Accessed April 5, 2011.