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 remember all the information provided during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
Questions to ask
Time with your doctor may be 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?
- Should I be tested for other causes of liver disease, such as hepatitis B?
- 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 brochures or other 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 that occur to you during your appointment.
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?
- Does anyone in your family have hepatitis C?
- Is there a history of liver disease in your family?
- Mandell GL, 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 June 14, 2013.
- 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 June 14, 2013.
- Diagnosis, management and treatment of hepatitis C: An update. Alexandria, Va.: American Association for the Study of Liver Disease. http://www.aasld.org/practiceguidelines/Pages/guidelinelisting.aspx. Accessed June 13, 2013.
- Hepatitis C FAQs for the public. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/C/cFAQ.htm. Accessed June 13, 2013.
- CAM and hepatitis C: A focus on herbal supplements. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/hepatitisc/hepatitiscfacts.htm. Accessed June 13, 2013.
- An update on treatment of genotype 1 chronic hepatitis C virus infection: 2011 practice guideline by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases. Alexandria, Va.: American Association for the Study of Liver Disease. http://www.aasld.org/practiceguidelines/Pages/guidelinelisting.aspx. Accessed June 13, 2013
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, et al. Recommendations for the identification of chronic hepatitis C virus infection among persons born during 1945-1965. MMWR. 2012;61:1. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr6104a1.htm?s_cid=rr6104a1_w. Accessed June 17, 2013.
- Picco MF (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Fla. June 30, 2013.