Visits to the doctor can be very productive with a little preparation work before the appointment, experts say.
“For some people, visits to the doctor can be discouraging or even frightening, but there are steps you can take beforehand to improve the experience, encourage communication and therefore improve health outcomes,” says Barbara L. McAneny. , MD, President of the American Medical Association (AMA). “By being open and honest with your doctor and by asking questions, you can play a key role in preventing the progression of chronic diseases and in how to set a healthier course.”
Here are eight ways to get more out of your next doctor visit:
- Know your history. A family health history can help your doctor and other health professionals identify if you are at increased risk for certain diseases and disorders. With this information, they can make informed decisions for your care, from recommending specific treatments or diagnoses to helping you plan for lifestyle changes that will help you stay well. Before your next visit, gather as much information as you can to share it with your doctor.
- Be honest. The doctor is likely to ask you about health habits such as alcohol, tobacco and drug use, as well as the amount of exercise you do. It is important to be honest and accurate in answering these questions. Ask your doctor if you use tobacco, drugs or alcohol, and if you need help to quit.
- Make a list. Even if you are only going to have a periodic review, make a list of the things you want to discuss during your consultation and take it to the appointment. Topics may include symptoms you have experienced, ailments you have suffered, and more.
- Get analysis. Ask your doctor about the necessary health screens based on your age, gender, and other risk factors, including your family history. Healthfinder.gov is a good resource for finding recommended preventive services.
- Find out what your risk is and act. Talk with your doctor about the risk of type 2 diabetes. Before the consultation, you can take a free self-screening test online at DoIHavePrediabetes.org to find out if you have prediabetes. During the visit, the doctor will have to confirm a diagnosis of prediabetes and can help you develop an individualized plan to prevent it from progressing to type 2 diabetes.
- Get vaccinated. Talk to your doctor about the importance of vaccination. Many vaccinations require reinforcements after a while. Be sure you are up to date on your vaccinations.
- Get help. Tell your doctor if you have been feeling bad and think you might be suffering from depression.
- Know your numbers. Track your health data such as your height, weight, body mass index and blood pressure in order to share the trends with your doctor and act if necessary. Visit LowerYourHBP.org to find out your blood pressure numbers and the risks of uncontrolled high blood pressure, also known as “hypertension,” which alter your life, and find a list of questions to ask your doctor to control your blood pressure
By being prepared with the right questions and information, you can make the most of your next medical consultation.