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Tips for Talking About Your Symptoms

It’s not always easy to ask your doctor for a referral, or to ask a specialist to consider a different diagnosis. Here are some suggestions that can help you talk about your concerns.

1. Know that your doctor is there to help.

Chronic, recurring symptoms that may point to a serious diagnosis are an excellent reason to see a specialist—asking for a referral is not going to hurt the doctor’s feelings.

2. Come well-prepared.

Take the 30-second quiz to help you identify all of the symptoms that may point to a different diagnosis. All too often, we tend to think of symptoms “in buckets,” so we may not mention things like wheezing or flushing to a gastroenterologist, or diarrhea to a cardiologist. However, specialists need to know the full range of your symptoms in order to reach the right diagnosis.

3. Explain why you're concerned.

If you are already seeing a specialist for IBS or another GI disorder, you may feel awkward about questioning your diagnosis. But you can make this conversation a lot easier by explaining the reasons you would like the possibility of carcinoid syndrome to be considered. Let the doctor know about all of your symptoms, and ask about a 5-HIAA urine test that can help confirm or rule out a diagnosis of carcinoid syndrome.

4. Be your own advocate.

Remember your ultimate goal. Getting the right diagnosis is the critical first step in managing your health. Once you and your doctor have that information, you can move forward.

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