Do you have rashes on your skin that does not go away easily? Do they aggravate when your skin sees Sun? Do you feel very weak these days? Do you have fever with no known cause? Do you have painful joints? Do you have swollen legs? Preparation is the key for the right diagnosis and to get the most out of your health care provider. On the other hand, it will also help you to alleviate anxiety that you may be facing about your doctor’s appointment.
Come prepared with all details:
Your history will direct diagnosis though physical examination. Lab and imaging tests are also very important. The more organised your approach is to your health concern, easier it is for your physician to arrive at a diagnosis. This will in turn save you a lot of time and money.
Your doctor is likely to ask you the following questions:
What are the symptoms you have?
Since when do you have each of these symptoms?
- Be specific: such as I have yellow cough with an itching throat and aching all over the body.
- Share your most pressing problem first. Describe that in detail and only once you have finished describing that symptom, move on to the next symptom. This will avoid confusions and help your doctor arrive at the right diagnosis.
What’s the nature of your symptoms? Do they appear and go away, then again reappear?
How are you feeling these days? Emotionally sound or emotionally low?
- Remember to bring all the relevant records pertaining to your health.
- Note down the medicines that you are taking, dosage, frequency/ how many times a day you take medicines and since when?
- Remember to bring all the medicines and supplements (that you are currently on) to your doc’s office with their original containers. Your doctor will prescribe new medicines based on the medicines that you are taking. This is very important to avoid drug reactions.
- Make sure to carry your past medical records such as MRI and X rays to your doctor’s office each time. Check with your doctor’s office before hand if you should transfer your medical records there before you meet your doctor. This will avoid repeat tests.
- Make a note of any diseases that you are suffering currently or anything that you have been through in the past.
- Your family history: Diseases which your blood relatives have/ had.
- Any allergy history
Anticipate what your doctor may want to know and come prepared with all the answers. With an easy access to internet, it’s easy to find the probable queries which your doctor might have. Be sure to visit the most trusted website and use internet only for information and not for diagnosis. Your doctor may ask you following questions:
- Describe your type of pain (stabbing, throbbing, burning, radiating, aching, dull, and sharp)
- How do you rate your pain on the scale of 1 to 10?
- Where exactly is the pain most severe?
- What triggers it (any movement?)
- What relieves your pain (rest?)
- Do you experience pain every day?
- Do you experience pain throughout the day?
- Is the pain stable or getting worse day by day?
- Is it interfering with your daily routine? If yes, how much do your symptoms interfere with your: school/ work/family life? You may also be asked similar questions on your other symptoms. Other likely questions are:
- Are you pregnant/Do you plan to conceive?
- Have you felt any change in your memory/ concentration powers?
- Take help of a friend or a loved one to arrange records and to accompany you to your doctor. If you miss to share certain things, the one who accompanies you may help you out. But be sure that the one who accompanies you, narrates the same as you want to. This will ensure no disagreements in the examination room.
- Be sure to ask about the details of your follow up visits.
- It’s better to request a doctor for the summary of the appointment: examination, prescriptions, diagnosis etc. (There are a lot of chances that you miss noting down certain conclusions made by your doctor while examining you.) Your doctor’s summary will help you catch up.
- If you can note this down, it will help you immensely.
- Ask your doctor about the likely diagnosis, the course of the disease, what you can do to bring in improvements and when to call the doctor?
- Your doctor needs your help for the right diagnosis. Physicians don’t have scanners to miraculously diagnose the problem. By being well prepared for the appointment, you are actually preventing yourself from being misdiagnosed.
As Lupus mimics so many other diseases, your doctor may refer you to several other doctors such as Rheumatologists to rule out other diseases such as Arthritis. Utmost patience is at times needed to arrive at a diagnosis.