How to Talk to Your Doctor


When it comes to staying healthy or living with a medical condition, your doctor is one of the most valuable resources you have. However, a visit to the doctor’s office can be a waste of time if you are uncomfortable bringing up your health concerns, if you do not bring them up because you do not think there is enough time, or if you walk out of the office feeling like you and your doctor just had conversations in entirely different languages.

First of all, there are some few things that your doctor should know about regardless the medical issue you are complaining about. You should talk to him about all sorts of risks that can generally affect your health even if they sound irrelevant to the topic at hand; from your grandmother’s high blood pressure to how many cigarettes you smoked after dinner last night. Accordingly, these are things your doctor should know in order to have the best possible understanding of the health risks you face and how to link them to the problem you came to complain about.

Before your visit, make a list of any major physical or mental conditions you may have had, the date you were diagnosed, and how you were treated. Your doctor should also be aware of any known food or drug allergies, and any complications you may have experienced as the result of a medical condition or treatment. Do not forget to mention if you are being treated by any other health care providers, including for mental health issues. You should also record any medications you may be using, including over-the-counter and herbal products, as well as your vaccination history.

Do not be afraid to ask your doctor about particular treatments you may have read about or heard about from friends, but be prepared to listen to what the doctor has to say—whether good or bad. Doctors appreciate an informed patient, but if you come in and try to diagnose yourself or tell them how to treat your condition, it can be frustrating for both of you. Remember that you came to them for professional advice—so be prepared to listen to their professional opinion. Rather than telling your doctor what you have, how to treat it, ask open-ended questions such as “I heard from a friend about this sort of treatment, in your experience do you think this is a good option for my case?”

One more important thing is to leave your shyness at the doctor’s door. When it comes to discussing sensitive topics, do not be too embarrassed to speak up. Chances are, your doctor has seen this embarrassing problem tens of times before. Always be honest. Your doctor can only help you if he has an accurate understanding of what is going on. When your doctor asks you questions about your symptoms, your lifestyle, or other medications you may be using, sometimes of these questions might sound embarrassing or too personal. So always make sure to answer your doctor’s queries as accurately and honestly as you can. Remember, he is there to help you not to judge you.

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SCIplanet is a bilingual edutainment science magazine published by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Planetarium Science Center and developed by the Cultural Outreach Publications Unit ...
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