Preparing for your appointmentBy Mayo Clinic staff
Whom to see
Make an appointment with your family doctor or a general practitioner if you have signs or symptoms that worry you.
If you've been diagnosed with a hiatal hernia and are experiencing signs and symptoms that aren't controlled with medications and lifestyle changes, ask your doctor for a referral to a doctor who specializes in digestive diseases (gastroenterologist).
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 get ready, try to:
- Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. At the time you make the appointment, 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 that 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.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
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 hiatal hernia, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What caused my hiatal hernia?
- Will I need treatment for my hiatal hernia?
- Do I need more tests?
- What are my treatment options?
- What are the benefits and risks of each option?
- I have these other health conditions. How can I best manage them along with my hiatal hernia?
- Are there any restrictions that I need to follow?
- Should I see a specialist? What will that cost, and will my insurance cover it?
- Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing for me?
- Are there 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?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask other 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 to cover other 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?
- Brady MF. Hiatal hernia. In: Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2012: 5 Books in 1. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05611-3..C2009-0-38601-8--TOP&isbn=978-0-323-05611-3&uniqId=291436269-101. Accessed Oct. 17, 2011.
- Jeyarajah R, et al. Abdominal hernias and gastric volvulus. 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 Oct. 17, 2011.
- Keifer D. Gastroesophageal reflux disease. In: Rakel D. Integrative Medicine. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2007. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/162991320-4/0/1494/0.html. Accessed Oct. 17, 2011.
- Heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The American College of Gastroenterology. http://www.acg.gi.org/patients/women/whatisgerd.asp. Accessed Oct. 17, 2011.