Fall 2017

Get more out of checkups by being honest with your doctor

Your healthcare team needs a lot of information from you to give the best care. Be open and honest. Tell them what's wrong and be as in-depth as you can. They can't help you unless they know the whole story.

There is nothing to feel embarrassed about when talking to your doctor. They're trained to deal with all sorts of health issues, including concerns about your genitals or bowel movements. They’ve seen it all, and chances are your doctor has helped hundreds of people with problems like yours. They want you to be upfront and honest. That way they can figure out what is wrong and know better what to do about it.

How to get ready for your office visit

Prepare before you talk to a doctor or nurse. It can be helpful to write down the answers to the common questions in the chart below. You also might want to ask a close friend or loved one what they've noticed about your health habits. It will help you give a full picture of what's going on. If you have questions for your doctor, jot them down ahead of time so you don't forget.

If you have more than one problem, put them in order of concern from most to least. That way, you'll have your most pressing issue taken care of if you run short on time.

You might want to take a trusted friend or loved one with you when you go to the clinic or doctor's office. They can help you stay on task. And they can remind you of things the doctor or nurse said.

What they might ask What you might say
What is the basic problem? • I feel light headed.
• I get bad cramps in my legs.
• I have trouble staying asleep.

Where is the problem? • My neck and head hurt some, but it's worse in both my eyes.
When does the problem happen? • I think it happens when I feel stress.
How long have you had the problem? • I noticed it a month ago, but it's getting worse.
Do you have the problem all the time, or does it come and go? • It happens about once a week. The pain lasts about 20 minutes.
What happens? • It starts at the base of my skull and spreads into both eyes.
• I wake up every 2 hours or so with an urgent need to pee. But when I get to the toilet only a few drops come out.

Does something trigger the problem? • It seems to happen when I stress out.
• I notice it happens more when I skip breakfast.

Does any one thing make the problem worse? • I seem to have more cramping when I eat peas and cabbage.
Does a person in your family have this problem (mom, dad, aunt, uncle, cousin, etc.)? • My grandma had a skin rash that never cleared up.
How bad is the pain (on a scale of 1 to 10; 10 being worst)? • It is a 3. I can carry on OK if I take extra-strength pain pills.
How much does it bother you (on a scale of 1 to 10; 10 being worst)? • About a 6. I live in fear that the pain will start again.
Have you found a way to stop the problem or make it not as bad? • I'm less wobbly on my feet when I get 9 hours of sound sleep the night before.
What meds are you taking (name, strength, how often you take it)? • Vitamin C, 500 mg, each morning
• Synthroid, 125 mcg, each morning
• Lasix, 20mg, at bedtime

Were you taking any meds when you noticed the problem started? • I was taking an allergy pill each night, but stopped as soon as I got this rash.
Have you ever had any bad reactions to meds? • Pain meds make me throw up.
Do you have an allergy? • I break out in hives when I eat eggs.
• I have a skin rash.

Have you been sick lately (even colds)? • Last June I had a high fever that lasted a week.
Have you had any mishaps lately? • I've stumbled when taking the stairs, but I did not fall.
• I didn't make it to the toilet fast enough and wet my pants last week.

Have there been any recent changes in your life (home, school, work, etc.)? • I lost my job last month.
• I stopped eating dairy last month.

Have you tried anything to make your problem stop? • I take garlic pills 3 times a day but they don't seem to help.
• I get a deep massage once a week.

Do you have some things you want to ask? • Is this a bad problem?
• Could I be making others sick?
• What happens next?

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