7 things to tell your Doctor - get the most out of your appointment

©  | Dreamstime Stock Photos

By Dr Kristie

Whether you visit your doctor for a health problem or for health maintenance, there are certain pieces of information he or she needs to know in order to give you the best medical care. Sometimes these important pieces of information aren’t conveyed to your doctor. This can result in your receiving less than optimal medical care. Here’s information you should be sure to tell your doctor at your next appointment: 

Tell your doctor: What medications you’re taking 

Always bring a list of your current medications to a doctor’s appointment. Make sure your list of medications exactly matches what your doctor has documented in your chart. Be sure to include any nonprescription medications you may be using such as over the counter meds for sleep or analgesics for pain relief. 

Tell your doctor: A list of vitamins and nutritional supplements you’re on 

 Don’t assume that because nutritional supplements are nonprescription that they’re not important. Some vitamins, nutritional, and herbal products can have similar effects to prescription medications when taken in high doses, plus they may also interact with your current prescription medications. Make your doctor is aware of each supplement you take on a daily basis as well as the dosage. 

Tell your doctor: About your lifestyle habits 

You may be embarrassed that you smoke two packs of cigarettes a day and wash your Big Mac down with a half pint of whiskey, but your doctor still needs to know about it. These habits may affect what screening tests your doctor chooses to perform for your regular health maintenance. In addition, use of tobacco can affect the choice of antibiotic your doctor uses for a bacterial bronchitis or other lung infection. Regular alcohol use means you should be getting periodic blood tests to check your liver function. It’s critical to your good health that you be honest with your doctor regarding the amount of alcohol and tobacco you use on a daily basis in order to get the best care possible. 

Tell your doctor: About your sexual history 

A medical consultation with your doctor isn’t the time to be shy about your sexuality. The number of sexual partners you’ve had as well as your sexual habits can directly affect your risk of such diseases as AIDs, cervical cancer, viral hepatitis, and sexually transmitted diseases. Your doctor won’t form character judgments about you based on your sexually practices, he’ll just be grateful you provided him with the information. 

Tell your doctor: Family history 

Be prepared to tell your doctor what diseases affected your relatives, what they died of as well as how old they were when they passed away. These include your parents, grandparents, as well as aunts and uncles. To make it easier, write this information down and keep it handy for future reference. Family history can be a strong risk factor for certain diseases and you may need certain screening tests based on this information. 

Tell your doctor: About any mental illnesses 

Have you suffered from serious depression or other psychological disorders in the past? Let your doctor know about this. Certain medications can precipitate symptoms of mental illness and can exacerbate old problems. 

Tell your doctor: About any surgeries you’ve had 

Your doctor needs a complete list of surgeries you’ve had in your lifetime even if they seem minor. The type of surgeries you’ve had in the past says something about your medical risk factors and susceptibilities which your doctor needs to be aware of when planning medical screening for you. It’s also important to know how you reacted to the anesthesia if it was used. 

Of course, you also need to be honest and straightforward with your doctor regarding the symptoms you’re currently having as well as your past medical problems. The more relevant information you’re able to convey to your doctor, the better long term medical care you’ll receive and that’s healthy for everybody.