Questions To Ask Your Doctor At Your Next Check-Up
Think back. When was the last time you visited the doctor? Was it for a specific reason, such as a cold or a strange skin rash? Do you remember the last time you had a complete physical examination? If you can’t remember, it might be time to schedule an appointment (like ASAP).
Annual physical check ups are paramount in preventative health and early detection. By visiting your doctor once a year for an annual examination, you increase the chances of detecting an illness or disease early on, as well as catching problems before they escalate into something worse. This early detection can save you time and money, and not to mention peace of mind.
Each year your medical profile changes, whether it’s because of age, weight, stress, or environmental factors. Because your health is in a constant state of change, your medical profile should reflect those changes annually. And since medical technology is advancing as well, new medical information can be recognized and documented in your files for future reference.
- 20 Minutes – This the average time spent in the waiting room. During this time, you expose yourself to icky bacterial and viruses that live on chair armrests and magazines. To avoid picking something up, bring your own reading material.
- 7 Minutes – Recent studies have been released that show the average doctor spends a mere seven minutes with each patient. Female doctors tend to spend about two more minutes with patients than male doctors do. While the nurse is in the room taking your vitals, ask her a question that a doctor may not need to answer. Most of the time, nurses know just as much as the doctor and can communicate more effectively.
- 18 to 23 Seconds – The amount of time you have to begin a conversation with your doctor about your concerns before they interrupt you with their thoughts or diagnosis. When you’re interrupted you tend to forget what you wanted to ask in the first place. Therefore, begin your visit with the most pressing issue and have all of your questions prepared beforehand. This will ensure that you hit all of your major questions without forgetting them.
Your Role As The Patient
The patient doctor bond is important for high quality healthcare and early diagnosis. It is your right as a patient to feel an emotional connection with your doctor; that is, you should feel comfortable enough to express your true thoughts and feelings without hesitation. If this relationship of trust isn’t established, you may not feel inclined to follow your doctor’s orders or feel invested in making a health related change to your lifestyle. Therefore, it is in your best interest to find a doctor that meets your personal needs rather than just settling for the sake of not having to search for another doctor. Check out Consumer Reports on how to select a doctor.
Your health is your responsibility. You should proactively participate in researching your ailment, its symptoms, the pros and cons of medication, the types of treatments available, and the extent of the diagnosis. Inquire about topics that you’re concerned about, particularly if you know they are hereditary or if you are at-risk due to other factors.
Commonly Asked Questions For Your Doctor
Be armed and ready with a list of questions for your doctor. Remember, you only have seven minutes with them! Here are some ideas to get you started.
- Start with the concern that has most urgency and be sure to use details to describe it thoroughly and succinctly. Discuss how it makes you feel, where it occurs, and any other pertinent information that the doctor would need to know in order to make any appropriate decisions.
- Blood Pressure – What does my blood pressure indicate and how does it affect my health?
- Weight – Are there any changes I can make to my lifestyle to maintain or change my BMI? What BMI range is healthy for me?
- Cholesterol – What is my total cholesterol level and how does it affect my health? What are my HDL (good) and LDL (bad) levels? What is my triglyceride level?
Note: The American Heart Association suggests that adults over the age of 20 have their cholesterol checked every five years, unless there are other risk factors involved.
- Diabetes – Diabetes runs in my family. What are some early screenings for diabetes? Or, I already have diabetes. Can we look at my medications and explore better ways to manage it.
- Cancer – Are there any cancer screenings that are appropriate for my age and lifestyle?
- Depression or Anxiety – I’ve noticed a change in my mood recently. I’ve been feeling __________ (fill in the blank) and I’ve noticed __________ changes in my lifestyle. What experience do you have treating people with depression or anxiety? Can you refer me to a specialist?
Note: Your emotional and mental health is equally as important as your physical health. Mention any triggers or thoughts.
- Allergies – When I’m outside I sneeze like crazy. Do I have seasonal allergies? I notice tiny bumps around my mouth whenever I eat ________(fill in the blank). I would like to have a complete allergy test done to determine what I am allergic to.
- Vaccinations – Am I up to date on all my vaccines? I work with a population that is at-risk for influenza. Do I need to be vaccinated as well?
- Medications – I am currently taking the following medications for these stated reasons (list medications). Are there any risks related to these medications taken simultaneously? What are the short-term and long-term side effects of these medications? What are the side effects of the medication you are prescribing me?
- Vitamins – I don’t consume __________ (fill in food, like dairy). Do I need a vitamin supplement? Because of my diet, do I need to take a multi-vitamin? Which ones do you suggest and why?
- Other Concerns – I am concerned about ________ (fil in the blank, like pain in my knees when I climb stairs). Can you refer me to a specialist?
American Heart Association – Cholesterol
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