Talking to Your Doctor About Viral Hepatitis
You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it is essential to talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors and/or experience with hepatitis. By talking openly and regularly with your doctor, you can take an active role in your care.
General Tips for Gathering Information
Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your doctor:
- Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
- Write out your questions ahead of time, so you don't forget them.
- Write down the answers you get, and make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for clarification, if necessary.
- Do not be afraid to ask your questions or ask where you can find more information about what you are discussing. You have a right to know .
Specific Questions to Ask Your Doctor
- What type of hepatitis do I have?
- Is it possible to have more than one type of hepatitis?
- How might I have contracted hepatitis?
- What medications, dietary supplements, or herbal preparations should I avoid that may worsen hepatitis?
- Are there other substances I should avoid?
- What can I do to avoid passing hepatitis on to other people?
- What are some of the short-term and long-term complications of hepatitis?
- What symptoms should I watch out for and should I report?
About Your Risk of Developing Hepatitis
- Based on my medical history, lifestyle, and family background, am I at risk for hepatitis?
- How do I best prevent hepatitis?
- Does my job put me at risk for hepatitis?
- What can I do to decrease my risk for hepatitis?
- Should I be vaccinated?
- Should I be screened for hepatitis?
- How often should I be screened if I do not have any symptoms?
About Treatment Options
- How do I best treat hepatitis?
What medication options are available to help me?
- What are the benefits and side effects of these medicationmedications?
- Will these medications interact with other medications, over the counter products, or dietary or herbal supplements I am already taking for other conditions?
- Are there any alternative or complementary therapies that will help me?
About Lifestyle Changes
- Is it safe for me to have a baby?
- What kind of protection should my sexual partner and I use?
- Are there habits I should develop in order to avoid passing hepatitis to others?
- Why do I need to avoid alcohol?
How do I find help to stop drinking?
- Should I exercise?
- When will I stop feeling so tired?
- Will my hepatitis go away?
- Will it become a chronic problem?
- Will I develop long-term liver problems?
- Will I develop liver cancer?
- Will I need a liver transplant?
- How will I know that my treatment program is effective?
- Am I now immune to hepatitis viruses?
- What types of hepatitis viruses am I now immune to?
Mosby’s Drug Consult. St. Louis, MO: Mosby Inc; 2002.
Overview of acute viral hepatitis. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/hepatic-and-biliary-disorders/hepatitis/overview-of-acute-viral-hepatitis. Updated June 2010. Accessed January 19, 2011.
Overview of chronic viral hepatitis. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/hepatic-and-biliary-disorders/hepatitis/overview-of-chronic-hepatitis. Updated July 2010. Accessed January 19, 2011.
Tips for talking to your doctor. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/healthcare-management/working-with-your-doctor/tips-for-talking-to-your-doctor.html. Updated May 2010. Accessed January 19, 2011.