Preparing for your appointmentBy Mayo Clinic staff
You're likely to start by seeing your primary care doctor, or in the case of acute pulmonary edema, an emergency room physician. Most people with pulmonary edema will be hospitalized for at least a few days, often longer. You may see several specialists while you are in the hospital. After your condition has been stabilized, you may then be referred as an outpatient to a doctor who specializes in disorders of the heart (cardiologist) or in treating lung disorders (pulmonologist).
What you can do
- 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.
- Obtain copies of medical records, whenever possible. Discharge summaries from the hospital, results from heart tests, as well as summary letters from any previous specialists you've seen can be helpful for your new doctor.
- Make a list of all medications as well as any vitamins or supplements that you're taking.
- Keep written track of your weight, and take that record with you so that your doctor can look for any trends.
- Make a list of the salty foods you eat regularly. Mention if you have eaten more of these recently.
- Ask a family member or friend along, 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.
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 pulmonary edema, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What's the most likely cause of the symptoms I'm currently experiencing?
- What kinds of tests do I need? Do these tests require any special preparation?
- What do my chest X-ray and electrocardiogram show?
- What treatments are available, and which do you recommend?
- What types of side effects can I expect from treatment?
- Are there any alternatives to the primary approach that you're suggesting?
- What's my prognosis?
- Are there any dietary or activity restrictions that I need to follow?
- 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 questions during your appointment at any time that 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 reserve time to go over any points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:
- When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
- Have your symptoms been continuous?
- Have you eaten more salty foods lately?
- How severe are your symptoms? Have your symptoms affected your work or daily activities?
- Do you have any symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea?
- Have you been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea? If so, what are you doing for it?
- Does anything seem to improve your symptoms?
- What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
- Do you have any family history of lung or heart disease?
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- How the heart works. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/hhw/hhw_all.html. Accessed April 7, 2011.
- Lung function tests. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/lft/lft_all.html. Accessed April 12, 2011.