WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOUR HEALTH IS DETERIORATING?

Introduction

Gastroenterology is the branch of medicine that looks at diseases of the oesophagus (gullet), stomach, small and large intestines (bowel), liver, gallbladder and pancreas.

Gastroenterologists treat conditions such as:

  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Gastrointestinal cancer
  • Anaemia with low iron levels – a condition where the haemoglobin the blood (a pigment that carries oxygen) is below normal levels
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease, e.g. Crohn’s disease (inflammation of the lining of the digestive system), ulcerative colitis (inflammation and ulceration of the lining of the rectum and colon)
  • Short bowel syndrome
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Jaundice – a condition where the skin yellows due to an accumulation of bilirubin the blood and tissues
  • Management of liver conditions related to alcohol, non-alcoholic fatty liver as well as viral hepatitis (Inflammation of the liver caused by a virus) and autoimmune liver disorders (where the body attacks its own cells)
  • Unexplained abdominal pain
  • Persistent change in bowel habit

This information here is for people who are currently waiting for a routine (non-urgent) appointment or procedure under local Gastroenterology services. We have some advice on what you can do to help prepare for your appointment or procedure and what you should do if your health deteriorates while you are waiting.

Please take a look at some of the resources on the last page that can give you useful information on many common conditions and how you can take steps to manage your symptoms while you are waiting.

Waiting for my first First outpatient appointment

You have been referred to the hospital for an appointment with a Gastroenterology specialist. You may be having an appointment for treatment, diagnosis or a procedure. You may be offered a face-to-face appointment in a hospital clinic, or a telephone or video appointment. Please be assured that you will get the same quality of care no matter what type of appointment you have.

While you wait

While you wait for your first outpatient appointment, it may be helpful to think about what you will want to talk to the specialist about and write a list. This could include:

  • Your symptoms and any changes in symptoms
  • Any medicines you are taking, including prescriptions, medicines you’ve bought yourself or any alternative treatments
  • Any allergies you have
  • Any questions or concerns
  • Anything your GP has recommended you ask

You can ask someone to come with you to your appointment, such as a carer, family member or friend.

If your appointment is taking place in the hospital, look up where it is and plan how you will get there. It may be helpful to look up local transport or parking arrangements.

Once your appointment comes through, remember to bring the details of your appointment with you. Allow plenty of time for your visit, especially if it is your first appointment.

During your appointment, the specialist will talk to you about:

  • Your symptoms or how you manage your health or condition
  • Your medical history
  • Whether you need any tests
  • How to get your results for any tests you’ve already had
  • Options for treatment so you can decide what would be best for you
  • How best to use any devices, equipment or medicines you’ve been given to manage your condition

Together you will decide a plan for your ongoing care. You may be given another appointment or you may be asked to arrange another appointment when your symptoms or circumstances change. If you’re unsure of anything, ask your specialist to explain it again, or to write it down for you.

You might find it helpful to take some notes during your appointment. You can look back at these at home or at your follow up appointment.

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