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 disorders of the immune system (immunologist).
Because appointments can be brief, and there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to be well prepared for your appointment. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Write down any symptoms, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Keep copies of records from hospitalizations and medical test results, including X-rays, blood test results and culture findings, and bring them with you to your appointment.
- Ask family members about the family medical history, including whether or not anyone was ever diagnosed with primary immunodeficiency, or if any babies or children died inexplicably in the past.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements you or your child is taking. If possible, write down all of the antibiotic prescriptions and the dosage that you or your child has taken for the past several months.
- Ask a family member or friend to come with you, if possible. Sometimes it can be difficult to soak up all the information provided to you during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Preparing a list of questions ahead of time can help you make the most of the time with your doctor or your child's doctor. For primary immunodeficiency, some basic questions to ask include:
- What's the most likely cause of my or my child's symptoms?
- Are there other possible causes for these symptoms?
- What kinds of tests are needed to confirm the diagnosis? Do these tests require any special preparation?
- What's my or my child's prognosis?
- What treatments are available, and which do you recommend?
- What types of side effects can be expected from treatment?
- Are there any alternatives to the primary approach that you're suggesting?
- Are there any activity restrictions?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend visiting?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask additional questions during your appointment.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor or your child's doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over any points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:
- When did you or your child first begin experiencing symptoms?
- Have these symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- How many infections have you or your child had during the past year?
- How long do these infections usually last?
- Do antibiotics usually clear up the infection?
- How many times has your child taken antibiotics in the last year?
- Does anyone in your or your child's family have primary immunodeficiency?
- Primary immunodeficiency. Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. http://www.nichd.nih.gov/publications/pubs/primary_immuno.cfm. Accessed June 12, 2011.
- Specific medical therapy. In: Blaese R, et al. IDF Patient and Family Handbook for Primary Immunodeficiency Diseases. 4th ed. Towson, Md.: Immune Deficiency Foundation; 2007. http://www.primaryimmune.org/publications/book_pats/patient_and_family_handbook_4th.pdf. Accessed June 12, 2011.
- Primary immunodeficiency diseases. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. http://www.aaaai.org/patients/topicofthemonth/0407/. Accessed June 12, 2011.
- Immunodeficiency disorders. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/print/sec13/ch164/ch164a.html. Accessed June 12, 2011.
- Fischer A, et al. Gene therapy for primary adaptive immune deficiencies. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 2011;127:1356.