The simple fact is the more that you talk to your doctor, the higher the chance that you will get the medications that you need in order to feel better. Remember that you and your physician are a team working together to improve your health. If you don’t agree with something that your doctor suggests, you need to speak up and voice your opinion.

Tips: Talking With Your Doctor About Your Health

Provide Information About Your Symptoms

It is important that you share any medications that you may be on with your doctor. If they prescribe additional medications, you may experience unpleasant and, sometimes, dangerous side effects by being on multiple medications. In order to determine the most appropriate treatment plan, your doctor needs to be aware of all the medications that you take, including over-the-counter (nonprescription) drugs and herbal remedies or supplements. Don’t forget to mention eye drops, vitamins, and laxatives. In addition, it is important that you tell your doctor how you take all of your medications, as well.

Tell Your Doctor About Your Habits

In order to provide you with the best care, your doctor has to know and understand who you are as a person, and know your lifestyle habits. Your doctor may ask you questions pertaining to your lifestyle, such as where you live, what you eat, how your sleep, and activities you are involved in, what your sex life is like, and if you smoke or drink. You should be open and honest with your doctor because it will help them fully understand any medical conditions you may have, and recommend the appropriate treatment options for you.

Learn More About Medical Tests

Sometimes, your doctors may need additional information, and ask you to do blood tests, x-rays, or other procedures in order to figure out what is wrong, or to find out more information about your medical condition. Some tests, such as mammograms and glaucoma tests, are done on a regular basis to check for any underlying medical problems.

Before having any medical tests, ask your doctor to explain why the tests are necessary, what it will show, and how much it will cost you. Don’t forget to inquire about the things (if any) that you should do in order to prepare for the test. For example, you may not be able to eat a few hours before the test, or have to provide a urine sample. Lastly, make sure you find out how you will be notified of the test results, and how long it will take to receive them. 

Questions to Ask About Medical Tests 

  • Why do I need this test to be done?
  • What steps does this test involve? How can I prepare for it? 
  • Are there any dangers or side effects I should be aware of? 
  • How will I find out the results? How long will it take to get the results?
  • What information will we find out after the test?

Discuss Your Diagnosis and What You Can Expect

A diagnosis will identify the dísease or other physical problems that you may have. Your doctor will make a diagnosis based on the symptoms you are experiencing and the results of your physical exams, laboratory work, and/or other tests. If you have all the information, it will make understanding your medical condition easier, and will also help you make the best decisions about treatment. Moreover, if you know what to expect, you can better deal with the condition.

Ask your doctor to tell you the name of the condition, and explain to you why they believe that you have it. You should also find out how it may affect your day-to-day life, and how long it will last, as some medical conditions are never fully treated. While they can’t be cured, they can be treated and managed.

Questions to Ask About Your Condition

  • What could have caused this condition? Is it permanent? 
  • How long will my condition be treated or managed? Will there be any long-term effects? 

Find Out More About Your Medications

Your doctor may prescribe a drug for your condition. Make sure that you know the name of the medication and understand why your doctor has prescribed it to you. In addition, you should know how often you should take it and for how long. If there are any other special instructions, make sure you write it down and ask questions if there is anything that you don’t understand. Medications will affect people differently. Let your doctor know if your medications aren’t working the way that they are supposed to, or if they are causing other issues. It is not recommended to stop taking medications before consulting with your doctor. If you want to stop taking your medication or try something else, consult with your doctor first. Your pharmacist is also a good source of information when it comes to medications.

Questions to Ask About Your Medications?

  • What are the most common side effects? What should I be looking out for? 
  • When can I expect the medication to start working? 
  • What should I do if I miss a dosage? Is there a medication adherence app?
  • Should I take the medication at meals or in between meals?

A Few Pointers to Make Communicating With Your Doctor Easier

Write Down Some Notes

You should have an idea of how you want your time with your doctor to go. Make sure that you list down any questions/concerns that you will want to talk about. Don’t forget to follow up.

Many doctors often times end up asking about your symptoms, and not getting the whole story. Research has found that 80% of diagnosis can be made just by listening to answers to open-ended questions of what happened and how long it has been happening, as opposed to yes/no questions.

Jot down notes of your symptoms using the following: 

  • When did it start?
  • Have you experienced the pain before?
  • What were you doing when you first felt the pain?
  • How does it feel?
  • How often do you feel pain?

Ask Open-Ended Questions

You should never be scared and uncomfortable with your doctor, they are there to help you after all. Be honest if you feel there is some miscommunication, or you feel as though you are not being heard. Some suggestions:

  • “I feel as though we aren’t communicating well. I feel that way because…” 
    • “I’d like to talk to you about X, but don’t feel as though I can. Can we talk more?”
    • “I know you have a busy schedule, but I need to discuss X. Can we schedule an appointment?” 
  • “Can you clarify X?”

Think About Bringing a Friend

Consider bringing a friend to the appointment. Not only will it make your appointment more comfortable for you and having someone there that you trust, but they will be able to catch anything you miss, and bring up questions that you may not have considered before.

Be Honest and Accurate

Many people go see their doctors and don’t tell the whole truth, mainly information that they don’t feel comfortable sharing with others, such as illegal drug use or alcohol use. However, it is important to build an honest and open relationship with your physician where you can be yourself and trust them enough to tell them anything regarding your health.

Provide Feedback About the Doctor’s Care

At the end of your appointment, confirm that you have everything right with your doctor, whether it is your diagnosis or your treatment plan.

Things From Your Physician’s Perspective

Along with not having enough hours in the day, doctors face a number of other barriers to good communication with their patients, including:

  • Jargon that is often misunderstood or misinterpreted by patients 
  • A general lack of uncomplicated communication skills, particularly picking up on non-verbal cues 
  • Avoidance of emotional and social problems 
  • Cultural barriers between them and their patients 
  • Feeling confrontational after being questioned by patients 

Ultimately, if there are issues of communication between you and your doctor, it is up to you to find a solution. You should find a doctor that you feel you can trust and you believe is listening to you and your concerns. It is important that you trust that they are making the right diagnosis and treatment recommendations for you and your unique situation.

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