The most important thing you can do for your overall health is to build a relationship with your primary care physician. Regular appointments even when you are well will lead to better medical care and help catch small health problems before they become more serious.
Your primary care physician also serves as the point person to help with the coordination of your care when a specialist is needed. If you are experiencing respiratory symptoms beyond a common virus like a cold or the flu, you are likely to be referred to a pulmonologist.
If you have been referred to a pulmonologist, here are six steps to help you prepare for your first appointment:
- Log your symptoms: Write down any and all symptoms you have experienced, even if you don’t think they have anything to do with your lungs. In some cases, respiratory conditions can extend to the cardiovascular system and affect other organs in the body.
- Take note of any triggers: In addition to making a list of your symptoms, take a note of anything that appears to make your symptoms either worse or better. Did you have difficulty breathing after a run? Was the weather particularly cold that day? Have you been around someone who smokes or exposed to other airborne toxins in your home or workplace? Identifying triggers are an essential part of prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.
- Write down your questions: In the days before your first appointment, write down any questions that you have so that you don’t forget to ask anything when you get there. This will help you make the most of your time with the physician.
- Know your family history: If you aren’t already familiar with your family history, ask immediate family members if anyone has experienced similar symptoms or were diagnosed with a chronic lung disease. You may also consider asking co-workers or unrelated adults that may live in your household if they have recently experienced any symptoms in the event the cause is environmental.
- List medications: Any time you have an appointment with a medical professional, you should have a list of any medications you are currently taking. This includes over-the-counter medications as well as any vitamins or supplements. Not only have some supplements been linked to diseases like lung cancer, but this will also help prevent adverse reactions with any new medications they may prescribe you.
- Ask a friend: The possibility of a chronic lung condition like lung cancer or COPD can be scary and overwhelming. Consider asking a family member or close friend to attend your appointment with you if it will help you feel more comfortable. Sometimes it’s also helpful to have another set of ears listening to details of your diagnosis and next steps for treatment.
Remember, like any physician, a pulmonologist should serve as a partner in your care. This means you also need to take an active role in managing your health which includes preparing for your first appointment.
If you have any questions about what to expect at your first appointment at Respire, contact our office at San Diego 619-359-4425 or Palm Springs 760-618-1353.