Ten Tips to Talk with Your Doctor

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By BarneyBaker

Participating in your own health care can help ensure that you receive the best possible care. The best way to help your doctor is to be aware of your current health issues, family history, as well as any health-related questions.

Talking to your doctor is important. There are no “off limits” when it comes to discussing medical issues. People often hide important information from their doctors out of fear of being embarrassed or judged. However, this only makes it more difficult for your doctor to do his job. Failure to share information with your doctor in certain cases can have severe consequences for your health.

Your doctor “heard and saw it all”, so he or she will not be surprised or repulsed by what you say. Furthermore, professional ethics and law prohibit your doctor from disclosing confidential information about your health. If you are having difficulty getting over embarrassment or have something you need to talk about that is causing you emotional distress, you might want to practice your presentation in advance or write something that you can give to your doctor during your visit.

These are just a few tips to help you communicate well with your doctor.

You can share symptoms.

Even if your symptoms are not severe, it is important to inform your doctor if they are becoming more frequent or worse. Side effects of prescribed medication should also be reported.

Give your health history.

A health journal can be created on paper or in a notebook and brought to your appointments. Include your family’s health history.

Discuss your lifestyle.

Your doctor should know about your current life situation, including whether you smoke, drink, don’t eat meat or exercise regularly, and whether or not you are thinking of having a baby or getting married.

Inform your doctor about the medications you are taking.

This includes prescriptions from another doctor, vitamins, supplements, and over-the-counter medication.

Ask questions.

Talk up if you don’t get what your doctor is saying. Don’t be afraid of asking “should I worry about” questions.

Ask your doctor for advice.

Ask your doctor if you have been recommended to take a specific action (e.g., a diet change) and he/she has any recommendations. Ask your doctor if he or she has suggestions for websites, books, and other reliable information that can help you understand the healthcare topics that are important to you or your family.

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Talk to your doctor if you feel the need for more time.

Let the appointment scheduler know if you feel you may need more time for your visit.

Notes? Bring a friend or family member along.

You can take notes during your visit or record it with the permission of your doctor. This will help you later when you need to recall exactly what your doctor said. Writing down all your questions ahead of time is a great way to make sure you get everything covered.

It may be a good idea to invite a friend or family member to accompany you for at most a portion of your appointment. A friend or relative can be a great resource for you if you have anxiety.

Do not try to squeeze too much into one visit.

It may be beneficial to split up any issues that you have with your doctor over several appointments. This will allow you to communicate clearly and efficiently.

Practice active listening.

Clear your mind of all distractions before you go to your appointment. You may miss important information if you’re distracted by your phone or too focused on your next conversation with your doctor. To make sure you’re on the same page, repeat what you think your doctor has said back to you.