How different can the process of seeing a Traditional Chinese medicine doctor be as compared to a Modern medicine doctor? Is not it just a simple process of answering questions so that we can get our medicine? That is only half of the truth. Preparing yourself well would ensure that you get the best and most out of the consultation.

As Traditional Chinese medicine places emphasis on treating a person depending on his or her constitution and the varying severity of symptoms, many more questions are typically asked during the consultation as compared to that of Modern medicine. Also, depending on the reason for consultation, be it an acute or chronic illness or for overall well-being, questions asked will also differ to some extent.

For an acute illness, questions asked will tend to center around the main symptom (s). For example in the case of influenza, questions asked could be whether there is fever, runny or congested nose, sputum (phlegm) or body aches – all very similar to that of Modern medicine. However, in Traditional Chinese medicine, the symptoms related to influenza do not end there. Influenza is known as shanghan in Traditional Chinese medicine, and away from the above, including symptoms such as being afraid of the cold and wind, whether the patient has perspired or not and if so, the amount of perspiration, parts of the body (head only or entity body) where perspiration occurred and when the perspiration occurred (occurs during sleep or only when wake, worsens in the day or night). Even regular bowel movements are often asked questions.

If yours is a chronic illness, then away from the symptoms related to the illness, more questions will then be asked as compared to that of an acute illness. There are two reasons for this. The first reason is that the name of this chronic illness in Modern medicine does not necessarily translate to an exactly identical illness in Traditional Chinese medicine, but may instead consist of several illnesses combined and it is necessary to determine which is the primary illness in Traditional Chinese medicine. The second is that even after determining the primary illness, the treatment has to be tailor to suit the patient's overall constitution, even more so than that of acute illness. Anything from migraines, to chest tightness, appetite, back aches etc can be asked. If you have any of these, it is a good idea to let the doctor know because it can assist the doctor in his prognosis and he / she may even be able to relate you of the ailment.

Consulting a Traditional Chinese medicine doctor to improve your general well-being is a process similar to that of chronic illness, but questions asked will be more general, less focused (unless there's a discomfort that you are interested in correcting) and less detailed.

Unique to Traditional Chinese medicine, there also includes the looking at face color, viewing of the tongue and the feeling of the pulse from the wrist of both hands. Therefore to ensure that the doctor is able to collect all this necessary information, it is best to go without makeup and scrapping the tongue, and avoid consumption of colored food or drinks like sweets or coffee. If you have done either of the above, remember to inform the doctor.

Armed with the above knowledge, remember to take note of the symptoms experienced and relate them to your Traditional Chinese medicine-trained doctor. It would help him / her be able to give you a more accurate diagnosis and hence achieve the result that both of you want – your recovery!