Finding the Meniere’s Disease doctor that works for you can be a bit challenging. Most general practitioners are ill-equipped to diagnose this syndrome let alone treat it. Even with specialists, the battery of tests that you have to go through to get a solid diagnosis is daunting. This leads to feeling hopeless and helpless, which should not happen. The best Meniere’s doctors know how to move you through the process and keep moving you forward after diagnosis.
Finding the Right Meniere’s Disease Doctor
While it might seem obvious, its vital that you locate several ear-nose-and throat physicians who know about Meniere’s, and preferably have provided treatment plans for it. This means making a few calls. Ask if the office works with Meniere’s disease, and if they are accepting new patients.
This is also the moment to check your insurance plan. Depending on your company and coverage, the process of getting treatment for Meniere’s can get costly very fast.
ENT vs. Neurologist
As you seek out providers, the ear, nose and throat doctors who do not handle Meniere’s may be able to give you referrals to those who do. One common recommendation is consulting a Neurologist who specializes in balance and hearing disorders. This is probably your best course of action. While the ENT is capable of getting a history and providing a diagnosis, Neurologists usually have more experience with Meniere’s. Some area of the country even have offices dedicated to dizziness and balance in conjunction with a Neurological practice.
Interviewing Potential Meniere’s Syndrome Physicians
Now its time to return to your original call list where the office accepts new patients and your insurance. Call again and see if you can get a free consultation. Your insurance will not pay for 10 different doctors’ opinions but many offices offer the freebie.
Tip: If you do not like the service you get on the phone from this office, make a note of that and go on to the next option. The receptionist in any company acts as a letter of introduction to that organization. If they have an attitude, generally so will the doctors.
Meet & Greet: Questions to Ask
As you talk to a potential caregiver, there are some basic questions that you should think about asking:
- What type of experience do they have with Meniere’s?
- How many years have they treated this or other, similar balance disorder?
- Do they have a list of referrals (or an online presence with reviews)?
- Is s/he associated with a hospital or treatment center (which one)?
- Does s/he regularly use drug representatives (this can skew prescriptions)?
- Does s/he have a patient portal for care coordination?
- If s/he had one word of advice for you right now, what would that be and why.?
Additionally you can inquire about the office policies with the staff:
- What is their cancellation protocol?
- Are their same-day appointments available? Accessibility matters.
- What is the average wait time at an appointment?
Reviewing your experience
After you’ve seen several potential providers, it’s time to consider your impressions:
- Did the doctor answer your questions with kindness and knowledge?
- Do you feel the physician treated you respectfully (think “Patient Bill of Rights”)?
- What’s his or her “bedside manner” like? You need to feel comfortable with this person. Some people are most at ease with dry, hard, facts. Others prefer a physician with a little good-natured humor.
- How did you feel when you walked out of the office? Frightened? Hopeful? Confused?
- What were your impressions of the staff and the information they provided?
Each of these elements matter in finding the right doctor for Meniere’s. Statistic show that people who do not have full confidence in their provider, or who feel uncomfortable around that person, have a much lower rate of following care plans for management and/or treatment.
Checking References & Other On-Line Data
There are numerous websites now that list patient reviews for doctors. These sites often include information on the physician’s board certification and background (like a C.V.). Fancy pedigrees don’t always make for good doctors; that’s where the reviews come in. Don’t forget to check Consumer Reviews and the Better Business Bureau listings.
Making the First Appointment With Your New Meniere’s Disease Doctor
Once you’ve settled on a provider with whom you are comfortable, it’s time to make that first appointment. The office may send you a packet before your appointment to fill out. This saves a lot of time at that first visit. Bring it with you.
Additionally come prepared with:
- A list of all your medications, dose and how many times a day they’re taken.
- A list of allergies and current medical issues other than Meniere’s (this may have already been covered in the packet).
- Contact information for any other physicians and your insurance information (again, this may be in your New Patient Packet questions).
- Last, but not least, a list of your most important questions about Meniere’s. It’s highly unlikely that you will get to all of them in one appointment, but its a place to start. Your questions give your physician a better of measure of what you most need and want in your management plan and/or treatments.
Down the Road
After a while you may feel like you made the wrong choice in your Meniere’s physician. It’s time changing doctors when:
- Your first impressions of how you and the doctor would relate to each other were incorrect and you are not as comfortable or trusting as you wish.
- The doctor’s office always over-books and leaves you waiting for unacceptable periods of time repeatedly.
- You don’t feel like your doctor is really listening; they’re dismissive of your input.
- There’s little or no improvement in your symptoms and the doctor isn’t exploring treatment or management alternatives.
- The doctor rushes the appointment treating that time more like “fast food” than medical care.
- A doctor labels some of your symptoms as “just stress” or depression.
- The specialist has not coordinated with or communicated with your primary and other physicians.
- Your Neurologist or ENT orders tests without explaining why.
While its true that going through the process of finding another doctor is as tedious as the first time, you will have probably learned some “red flags” from your experience. It is absolutely OK to reach out for other medical care in which you trust; in fact, it’s essential.