5 Tips to Get the Most From Your Doctor Visit

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credit @Flickr: Clever Cupcakes

1. Create a medical profile and keep it up to date. Having your health information organized and handy will make sharing your medical history much easier. Include contact information for all your doctors, insurance details, dates of any surgeries or hospitalizations, a list of allergies, medications, herb or supplements you take (including frequency and dosage), as well as a detailed family health history.

2. If you’re having a particular medical complaint, keep a health journal. Note your daily stress levels, exercise, and sleep patterns as well as the foods you eat. Then jot down your symptoms. Are they worse? Are they better? Keep a separate page to log your annual weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Looking at these results over time can show a trend that might otherwise be missed. Make sure to bring this to your appointment.

3. Do selective research. The key word here is “selective”. Do your best to be informed, but remember that an afternoon of doing computer research may not give you the most accurate information. Go to reliable sites such as NIH.com or MayoClinic.com and do your best to avoid a self-diagnosis. Instead, use that information to develop a list of pertinent questions. Bring the list of questions to your appointment.

4. Bring a close friend or family member to your appointment. This tends to make you more honest in answering questions (How many cigarettes do you smoke a day? How much sleep are you getting? Are you exercising regularly?). Your companion can also come up with additional questions and take notes. It’s said that patients forget 85% of what they hear during their doctor visit before they get out the door. Having a friend with you can be invaluable.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask questions that you think might be perceived as “silly”. Are you afraid that your headaches are a sign of a brain tumor? Or your bloating could be cancer? Go ahead and ask! It’s often as reassuring to know what you don’t have, as what you do have! Looking for reassurance is perfectly acceptable.

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