Regular visits to the doctor, along with appropriate diagnostic testing, are essential to maintaining your best health throughout your lifetime. Equally important is forming an interactive relationship with your doctor, where your issues and concerns are just as important to the doctor as they are to you. To do this, you should be prepared for your next appointment with as much information about your health issues as you have to offer. In order to get the right answers, you will need to ask the right questions. You can’t expect your doctor to read your mind or figure out what’s wrong with you if you withhold information.
The next time you visit your doctor, go in with a prepared list of questions that should get right to the heart of the matter.
1) Based on the tests you have run and the symptoms described, can you tell what is wrong? Does this condition have a name so it can be researched?
If you don’t ask for specifics about your problem, it is entirely possible your doctor may assume you aren’t all that interested in details and may simply prescribe a treatment, therapy or medication to deal with the problem. An uninformed patient may just follow blindly, trusting the doctor to deal with the best interests of the patient. It’s important to remember that your doctor is only human. No one will ever be more concerned about you and the state of your present and future health than you. Find out what you are dealing with right from the start.
2) Does this condition warrant a second opinion?
Don’t worry about offending your doctor. A good doctor welcomes the opportunity to have the diagnosis confirmed. You, as the patient, will gain a huge amount of reassurance from knowing that the medical community is in agreement as to what the condition is and what protocol works best in treatment.
3) What are the treatment options for this condition or disease? Just as important, what are the potential side-effects that go along with the medication or treatment options you are prescribing?
Don’t wait until you’re months into treatment to find out you’ve been prescribed a medication that causes or aggravates some other, possibly more serious, condition. Many conditions can be treated in a variety of ways. You should discuss all options with your doctor before deciding which one is right for you. If you’ve started on a prescribed treatment and find out later that the side-effects prove to be intolerable, you should continue the dialog with your doctor about how to make your treatments more tolerable.
4) What health and lifestyle changes might lead to a better future outcome?
Good health isn’t built on drugs and medications. It is entirely possible that you may improve your health by altering your diet, getting enough exercise and seeking workable ways to reduce the stress in your life. It’s never wise to turn your health over the medical field entirely. You are the one who knows how you feel and what makes you feel better or worse in any given situation.
5) How long will treatments continue? Is this a chronic lifetime condition or is there a point where treatments and medications will cease?
It’s true that some conditions, once diagnosed, are with you for a lifetime and must be dealt with continuously if you want to maintain your best health. But, there are also conditions that, once under control, can be treated with less invasive or milder treatment options. You may be fortunate enough to even move into a stage where you can stop treatment and just monitor your health going forward. Less medication and drugs are always better than more. The recipe for good health throughout your life always involves a line of communication with your doctor. It’s important to create that open dialog right from the start so you can be knowledgeable and informed whenever changes in your health warrant changes in your medications or lifestyle. The best way to advocate for yourself is to ask questions and keep asking them until you have the answers you need.