8 Things to Tell Your Doctor

Patient with her Physician.

LifeScript—Ellen Wlody reports: We talked to top experts and here are the 8 things you must confess at your next visit…

1. You’re taking vitamins, herbs or supplements.

You pop a daily multivitamin, an herbal supplement for sleep and a powder to improve memory. They’re harmless, right? Not always.

2. You noticed blood in your stool.

Most of us steer clear of potty talk – even with our doctors. Patients of Internist, Dr. Clancy, however, are asked at each visit whether they’ve seen blood in their stool. The response, she says, is often the same: “Why would I look?”  … Dr. Clancy’s answer: “It could save your life.”

3. You think you’re depressed.

So you’ve been feeling a little down; it’ll pass, you think. Besides, why bother your doctor with it? … Emotions can affect your physical health. Depressed people often feel fatigued, lose their appetite or have stomachaches. In fact, if your doctor doesn’t know you’re depressed, you may have to undergo unnecessary tests or medications.

4. You’re worried about something you read on the Web.

You’re not the first (or last) to turn to Dr. Google. So your doc won’t be offended or surprised when you admit this. In fact, most doctors say they like well-informed patients.

5. Your diet and exercise routine are lacking.

That morning doughnut-and-coffee ritual? Those couch potato nights? ‘Fess up! People often lie or omit information because they don’t realize how harmful those habits really are, Dr. Clancy says. “That’s why we recommend that overweight people keep a food diary, so they can get a more realistic picture of what they eat in a day,” she says. Even if weight isn’t an issue, talk to your doctor about your diet. You may not need a major meal overhaul – just a little tweaking.

6. You quit your meds.

One of Dr. Goldberg’s patients stopped taking her cholesterol medication. The reason: A friend on the same drug developed muscle aches. But the patient didn’t tell Dr. Goldberg. So when tests showed higher cholesterol levels, she called to increase her dosage.

7. You’ve lost interest in sex.

“People are pretty open about their physical complaints, but they’re not so open about sexual issues,” says Judie Brock, certified nurse-midwife at Cooley Dickinson Center for Midwifery Care, in Northampton, Mass. But women need to talk about emotional and sexual health with their doctor, because it can be a symptom of a physical problem. Loss of desire can signal health issues, such as chronic stress, anxiety, depression or even anorexia.

8. You had surgery or sickness a long time ago.

Especially when seeing a doctor for the first time, the details of your medical history matter – and that includes the tonsillectomy you had at age 4.Your physician needs background information to diagnose and prescribe the best treatment for you.

There’s an advantage to being well prepared: You’ll get better treatment. In addition, jot down notes about current symptoms. If you’re having headaches, for example, how often do they occur and at what time of day? How painful are they? What type of pain do they cause – sharp or dull throbbing? “If you walk in with a record – even just some notes – and can say, ‘I’ve given this some thought,’ you’ll be taken a lot more seriously by the doctor,” Dr. Clancy says. (04/08/2016)