By Jody Smith from EmpowHER.com
Doctor's appointments have been known to provoke some anxiety on occasion, but remember -- you are a key player in your own wellbeing. Before you doctor’s appointment, here are a few things you’ll want to do:
- If this is a new doctor, take copies of all of your recent medical test results. You’ll need to contact your previous/other doctors for this information. Be sure to let your doctor know if you're under special care for chronic conditions.
- Take a list of the prescriptions you’re taking to your doctor’s appointment. Include details on how long you’ve been taking each, the dosage amounts and any side effects you’ve experienced. Ask your doctor about possible interactions.
- Take notes about any symptoms you’re having, their severity, and when you have them.
- Save time at your doctor’s office and consider doing your paperwork in advance. Many doctors’ websites now provide forms and questionnaires.
- Research your doctor: The American Medical Association’s website is a great place to start. Also, be sure to check with your state’s medical board website to learn about any potential complaints against your doctor and possible action taken on those complaints. (Some states offer similar medical boards for naturopathic and osteopathic doctors, as well.)
Learn to manage your expectations of a visit early on for the best care. And if you’re seeing a new doctor, take the time to interview the doctor. He or she is applying for the job of taking care of you. Use the same scrutiny for yourself as you would for a family member.
Writing down questions ahead of time can also take some of the pressure off, and give you a better chance of getting the answers you need to those questions of yours.
Here are some questions you might want to ask your doctor:
- What do you think is causing my symptoms?
- Could there be other possible causes?
- What, if any, tests will you be running and what are the potential risks of these tests?
- What are the possible outcomes of my condition?
- What are the conventional and alternative treatments for this condition?
- If I don't take these treatments, what can I expect to happen?
- If I get worse, what warning signs should I be looking for?
- What can I do for myself? How will I know whether I need to contact you for help?
- What should I watch for in terms of adverse reactions to medications?
- And what are potential side effects of the medications your are recommending?
Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications you are taking, as well as any supplements such as herbs or vitamins. (You may even want to bring in the herb/vitamin bottles so that he/she can read the ingredient lists.)
If you have reservations about anything you hear from your doctor, don't be afraid to ask about alternative treatments – and don't hesitate to opt for a second opinion. This is your life and your health, and you have a right to seek out any and every avenue for healing.
More: How to Get What You Need from Your Doctor