Preparing for your appointmentBy Mayo Clinic staff
You're likely to start by seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner. However, you may then be referred to a doctor who specializes in hormonal disorders (endocrinologist).
Here's some information to help you prepare for your appointment, and to know what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- 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 stop taking medications that might interfere with some tests. However, don't stop taking any of your usual medications without consulting your doctor first.
- 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.
- Take a list of all medications, as well as any vitamins, supplements or over-the-counter cold medicines, you're taking.
- Compile a family medical history, paying particular attention to who in your family has had high blood pressure, pheochromocytoma or another endocrine system disorder.
- Ask a family member or friend along, if possible. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
For pheochromocytoma, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What's the most likely cause of my symptoms?
- Are there other possible causes for my symptoms?
- What kinds of tests do I need? Do these tests require any special preparation?
- Is this condition temporary or long lasting?
- What treatments are available?
- Do you recommend surgery?
- What are the risks associated with surgery?
- What is my prognosis if I have the surgery?
- Are there any alternatives to the primary approach you're suggesting?
- I have other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
- Are there any restrictions on foods or medications that I need to follow?
- Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend visiting?
- Could anyone else in my family be affected?
Don't hesitate to ask any other questions that come up.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, such as:
- When did you begin experiencing symptoms?
- Have your symptoms been continuous, or do they occur sporadically?
- How severe are your symptoms?
- Does anything seem to improve your symptoms?
- What, if anything, appears to bring on or worsen your symptoms? Are they worse if you're upset or anxious?
- Does anyone else in your family have a history of pheochromocytoma or another endocrine system disorder?
- Young WF, et al. Clinical presentation and diagnosis of pheochromocytoma. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Dec. 13, 2010.
- Young WF, et al. Treatment of pheochromocytoma in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Dec. 13, 2010.
- Blake MA, et al. Adrenal imaging. American Journal of Roentgenology. 2010;194:1450.
- Mazzaglia PJ, et al. Laparoscopic adrenalectomy: Balancing the operative indications with the technical advances. Journal of Surgical Oncology. 2010;101:739.
- Patient education: Pheochromocytoma. National Institutes of Health. www.cc.nih.gov/ccc/patient_education/pepubs/pheo.pdf. Accessed Dec. 19, 2010.
- Pheochromocytoma. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/sec12/ch153/ch153h.html. Accessed Dec. 19, 2010.