Monday, March 7, 2011

8 Things Your Doctor Wants to Tell You

Whether you're feeling sick or trying to stay healthy, there's one person who you can always call for guidance. But while your general practitioner is a pro at assisting you, it turns out there are a few things you can do to lend him a hand as well. From what you should bring to your appointment to important changes to report, find out eight ways you can help your doctor help you.
1. Come with an open mind.
If you're like most people, you probably search the Internet to find out what is wrong with you before heading to the doctor. But just because you came up with a Web diagnosis, doesn't mean you shouldn't be open to other ideas. "While I do welcome every patient's input, please hear us out," says Cheryl Wu, MD, a pediatrician at LaGuardia Place Pediatrics in New York City. "Good doctors have all received vigorous training in asking the exact right questions, ticking off mental checklists and performing an objective physical exam. Extensive training and objectivity are what make us good."
2. Be honest.
"The purpose of your appointment is not to please your doctor," says Alireza Etemadi, MD, a board-certified family physician and medical director at Doctors Express in Oceanside, California. So while many people have a tendency to exaggerate (Do you really exercise as much as you say you do?), the goal of your visit should be to "discuss the matter at hand and find out what you have to do to get––or stay––healthy." Beating around the bush will only delay a diagnosis and the creation of an appropriate action plan. Plus, according to Gary Rogg, MD, an internist at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, the longer you wait to get something diagnosed—be it a blood pressure problem, a sugar issue or cancer—the more untreatable it becomes.
3. Write down your questions and bring them with you.
"The healthiest patients I have are the ones who come in with pieces of paper full of notes and questions that they've written down," says Dr. Etemadi. By coming to your visit prepared, you're less likely to forget to report important symptoms or ask pressing questions. And according to Dr. Wu, this is not the time to be shy, so go ahead and ask your questions at the beginning of your appointment so that your doc is sure to address them all.
4. Tell us what vitamins and supplements you're taking.
Although those over-the-counter pills seem harmless, it's important to let your doctor know you're taking them. "We need to know about them because sometimes there is too much of a good thing," says Kelly Clark, MD, a family physician in Traverse City, Michigan. "If you have too much of certain vitamains, your body may excrete the excess. But sometimes the surplus can build up in your body and affect your organs." Plus, she explains, some vitamins and supplements can interact with your prescribed medications. To avoid potentially dangerous interactions, be candid about what you're taking. Dr. Clark also recommends bringing in the bottles so that your physician can read all of the added ingredients and tell you the correct dosage to take.

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