What To Ask Your Doctor During A Medical Check-Up

Most doctor visits last fifteen minutes or less. Optimize the benefits of your next appointment by asking the right questions.

The next time you make a doctor's appointment, prepare a list of questions to take along. Many patients blindly accept whatever the doctor tells them at face value, little understanding the medical jargon or ongoing implications.

To get the most from your visit and to enjoy the benefits of your doctor's care even after leaving the office, you need to find out all you can during your visit. Communication between doctor and patient is vital for maintaining the patient's health and well-being.

Here are a few suggested questions you may want to ask, or a version thereof, the next time you go to see your doctor for a routine problem (not a major emergency or injury):

1. What's wrong with me? If you are having symptoms or don't feel just right, ask your doctor to explain in everyday wording whatever the problem may be. This may mean you will need to ask additional questions like these:

-"Where is that organ located?"

-"How does it function?"

-"Why isn't it working properly now?"

Continue asking questions until you fully understand the nature of the problem and how it is affecting your body and your health.

2. How will this affect my daily schedule? Discuss the effect of your condition on job duties, personal relationships, and household chores. Ask your doctor to make a note of the things you should not do, especially if they impact your job in any way. If you are ordered to rest a few days, ask what is meant by "a few days" and write it down if you think you might forget.

3. What medications will I be taking? Ask for the name and purpose of each one, along with dosage amount and length of time between doses and the full course of medicine. Inquire about risks or side effects, and mention any drug allergies you have, even if they don't seem to be associated with the drugs your doctor is prescribing, since some can have cross reactions with others. Find out what to do or who to call if you do experience a side effect.

4. What are the possible outcomes of my condition? Generally these are similar for many illnesses and diseases: The patient will get better, stay the same, or get worse. While the goal is to cure every medical problem, reality suggests that is not possible, and you may have to live with a condition like diabetes or lupus for quite some time or even permanently.

5. What can I do to help my condition? Doctors love a cooperative and proactive patient because the ill person's attitude can make the difference between success and failure, healing or relapse. Even if you are told just to "take it easy" for a day or two, follow the advice to the letter. If you don't stay off that swollen knee, for example, you may end up needing an arthroscope or surgery. Don't make things worse by neglecting your doctor's advice. Take medications as prescribed, maintain an upbeat attitude, and ask the pharmacist who fills your prescriptions any further questions you may have about your medications.

These are general questions that can help you to take an active role in maintaining good health and following a treatment plan. You may want to add more specific questions to your list before going to the doctor so you are prepared to make the most of your visit instead of trying to remember something that you wanted to ask. You are the best judge of your health, so don't hesitate to get the information you need to protect it.

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