What to Ask Your Doctor During Your Next Visit

By John C. Munshower, D.O.

DrWarningwPatientsGoing to the doctor should be more than just a task that’s checked off your to-do list once a year. It’s a crucial time for you to gain a better understanding of your health and treat any new medical issues. The only way you can achieve this, however, is by talking to your physician.

Communication is an essential key to ensure that you get the quality healthcare you need. With a two-way conversation, you’ll build trust with your physician who will then have all the information he or she needs to better diagnose and treat any medical conditions.

The best way to make the most out of every doctor visit? Be prepared.

Before going to your appointment, take a few minutes to jot down any questions and/or concerns you may have regarding your health. Since doctor visits are generally short, it’s best to write them down beforehand so you don’t forget anything.

If you’re not sure where to start, you might want to include some talking points such as new health problems you’re experiencing, changes in medicine you need, medical testing you want done or treatment or surgery options for a known medical condition.

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If you’re visiting a new physician, you should expect your doctor to ask you a series of questions about your medical history, work history and lifestyle. These might include inquiries about your general health, your family medical history, any surgeries you have had and your exercise and eating habits. You should bring a list of up-to-date medications including any vitamins or over-the-counter medications you take. A Crozer Keystone Health Network (CKHN) doctor uses state of the art electronic medical records that can often check for any interactions of medications, so having an up to date list is very important.

Your doctor will then check your blood pressure and heart rate, listen to your heart and lungs and record your weight. If you inform your doctor of any health concerns or symptoms you’ve been experiencing, your physician might also recommend additional blood work or other tests to determine the cause or rule out certain conditions.

Depending on your age, the doctor will most likely recommend preventative testing to be done or updated. Preventative tests include cancer-screening tests like mammograms and pap smears for women and prostate checks for men, colonoscopies to screen for colon cancer or routine blood tests to check for diabetes and cholesterol levels. If you have a chronic medical condition such as high blood pressure or diabetes for example, the doctor will discuss with you the importance of keeping regular appointments and getting regular blood work done.

Whatever your doctor recommends, don’t be shy about asking follow-up questions. Let’s repeat that don’t be shy about asking follow-up questions.

shutterstock_3212970The goal of a doctor visit is to improve your health. That means you need to get your questions answered. The better you understand the doctor’s recommendations, the better opportunity to accomplish that goal. So don’t hesitate to inquire more about the treatment or tests, their purpose and if there are any alternatives. If your doctor recommends a new prescription medication, for example, you may want to ask about its side effects and if there are other treatment options.

When your appointment is over, be sure to adhere to any instructions your doctor may have given you, such as filling a prescription or making a follow-up visit. And if more questions pop up later on, don’t hesitate to call your doctor at any time.

When it comes to your health, knowledge is power, and often the more educated you are about your health, the healthier you will be!

Don’t have a primary care physician? Click here to find a provider in your area.

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