Lupus: How To Prepare For A Doctor's Appointment

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Prepare For Your Appointment


How To Prepare For Your Appointment
Know Your Symptoms
Know Your Medications
Medical Records
Ask For An Opinion Summary

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How To Prepare For Your Appointment

As lupus is particularly difficult to diagnose, it is important to do some of your own research before your doctor appointment. Take time to make a record of your medical history, your family's medical history, the medications you are taking and the symptoms you experience. By doing this you increase the likelihood of a speedier and accurate diagnosis.

Know Your Symptoms

Keep a journal to record your symptoms and be as specific as possible. Instead of writing for example you 'feel ill', be more specific such as 'my knees and wrist joints feel warm and sore'. If you have more than one symptom, prepare a separate record for each problem. Present them one at a time to your doctor so you don't confuse him. Be prepared to answer the following questions:

Where is your pain worse?
When did it start?
Do you notice any trigger?
Is there anything you do that makes the pain better or worse?
On a scale of 1 to 10, how bad is the pain?
Is the pain continual or does it come and go?
Does it interfere with daily life?
Is it a new symptom or recurring?
Do you have any other symptoms with it, such as chest pain or shortness of breath?
Does the sun cause you to develop skin rashes?
Do your fingers turn blue, pale or numb in the cold?
Do you have problems with memory or concentration?
Are you pregnant or do you plan to become pregnant?

Know Your Medications

Make a note of all medications you are taking - that includes prescription drugs, non-prescription medications, herbal remedies and vitamins. Note the dosage and frequency you take them. This is important because you may see several specialists and they may not all be aware of what pills you are taking. Making them aware of your medications reduces the risk of dangerous drug interactions.

Medical Records

If you have medical records from other doctors, bring them with you. This includes X-rays and MRI scans if relevant. Don't assume one doctor will transfer the records to another automatically. You may need to chase this up or obtain the records yourself. This could prevent you having to repeat diagnostic tests at your own expense.

Ask For An Opinion Summary

A recent survey showed that most patients could not remember what a doctor said during a general examination. To avoid this, ask your doctor to summarize his opinion at the end of your appointment. If he recommends tests or medications, ask him again to clarify why. Questions to consider asking include:-

• What are the possible causes of my symptoms?
• What tests to do you recommend and why?
• If these tests don't diagnose my problem, what additional tests might I need?
• Are there any treatments or lifestyle remedies that might help me with my symptoms right now?

Next: Lupus diagnosis

  Related Articles on LUPUS

For more information, see the following:

Symptoms of lupus: Rashes, joint pain and fatigue.
Causes of lupus: Is it all in the genes?
Lupus treatments: Medications and lifestyle remedies.

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