Asking questions is the first step toward having good communication with your doctor. While it’s normal to feel a little embarrassed, you shouldn’t let nerves stop you from asking important questions about your health. A well-informed patient is a healthy patient!
When you don’t ask questions about your health, your doctor might assume you don’t want more information or already know the answer. It might feel right to bring up an issue when the Doctor prompts you—but don’t wait!
Be proactive! If you don’t know the meaning of a word, understand the instructions provided, or have a health concern, ask. To help improve communication between you and your doctor, be sure you are asking the following questions next time you go for an appointment.
Questions to Ask During Your Yearly Physical Exam
- Is this normal?
If you have a question about your health, bring it up even if it’s a sensitive topic. Talking about issues like stinky feet, low libido, menopause, painful menstruation, and excessive snoring can be difficult, but it’s necessary to stay on top of your health. Your yearly exam is the perfect time to talk about any health problems that are bothering you, especially if you don’t want to make an appointment for them specifically.
- Does my family’s health history put me at risk for any conditions?
Your doctor will likely ask you about your family’s past illnesses during the initial exam, but your family health changes over the years. Start your exam by keeping your doctor up-to-date on any recent family health concerns and ask if you are at risk for anything.
- Would you recommend any additional screenings or tests?
Staying on top of your health can get harder as we age, so it’s important to be proactive. Ask your doctor if they think you should start additional screenings based on your medical and family history, like pap smears, mammograms, or colonoscopies. These tests are often more routine for middle-aged adults, starting testing sooner or more frequently can help give you peace of mind.
- What is my blood pressure?
If your blood pressure isn’t too high or low, the doctor might not tell you the exact number. It never hurts to get specifics, especially if you want to track it because of your medical history or your families’.
- How is my cholesterol and am I eating the right kind of fat?
If you’re worried about your cholesterol, bring it up! Again, your doctor might not mention your levels specifically if your cholesterol isn’t too high. Being proactive can help you make healthier behavior choices and prevent problems from occurring. If you have a family history of high cholesterol or heart disease, it’s a good idea to start monitoring your levels early. Your doctor can help you create a dietary plan to meet your goals!
For example, saturated fats raise your cholesterol levels, but mono and polyunsaturated fats can help lower it. It’s a good rule of thumb to try to eat less of the bad fatty foods, like cream, red meats, butter, cheese, and whole dairy products. Eating more healthy fats like nuts, avocados, seeds, and fish is a great way to make a positive impact on your cholesterol levels.
- How is my weight?
Weight isn’t the easiest topic to bring up, but it is necessary. It’s important to be on top of your BMI, as excess weight is a risk factor for many conditions, including certain cancers and heart disease. Your physician can help you create a plan and make realistic goals to maintain a healthy weight.
- Are there any important questions I haven’t asked?
On average, most doctors spend about 13 to 24 minutes with each patient. The world of medicine is fast-paced, and doctors are people too. They might not remember to bring up a discussion topic they wanted to cover with you. If you ask them if there’s anything you’ve missed, you can make sure all your bases have been covered. A little reminder goes a long way!
- What should I do between now and my next visit?
Take the time to talk about what kinds of daily activities you should be doing to maintain your health. Everyone is different, so ask if there are any dietary choices or lifestyle decisions you should consider.
How to Remember Your Doctor’s Advice
It’s easy not to remember the doctor’s instructions. Often, you’re given a lot of information in short amount of time. Even if you’re close with your doctor, you might not understand everything they told you, or realize you forgot important instructions only once you return home.
During your appointment, be sure you’re following along. If at any point you feel that you don’t grasp something fully, don’t hesitate to speak up. Ask questions like, “Could you explain that again? I want to make sure I understand.” You can also repeat what the doctor said in your own words and ask them if your understanding is correct.
Crystal clear communication is the best way to make sure your health concerns are being addressed. To ensure you don’t forget anything during your doctor’s visit, you should:
- Take notes. Jot down the main points of your appointment on a notepad or your phone. If you have a hard time writing while the doctor is speaking to you, ask them to write notes for you. You can also bring an audio recorder, with the doctor’s permissions, to capture the sessions. Recordings are helpful for sharing information with relatives.
- Get a copy of written or recorded information. Ask your doctor for any additional materials, brochures, or videos about your health, or possible treatments You can also ask your doctor to recommend any additional resources, like trusted websites, nonprofits organizations, government agencies, and disease management centers that may have information that you can access.
- Talk to other healthcare professionals. Nurses, pharmacists, physicians assistants, and therapists can also help you understand medical information and help you met your health goals.
- Follow up with your doctor. If you forget your doctor’s instructions once you get home, call the office for help. You can ask if your doctor or their practice has an email address or online health portal where you can submit questions.
Technology is Making it Easy to Connect with Healthcare Professionals
Technology is making it simpler to monitor your health and talk to your doctor day and night. Remember, communication is key when maintaining your health!
Traveling to the doctors can be difficult and time consuming for many patients. Virtual doctor’s visits from your smartphone or tablet mean no more driving hours to see your physician. Using a telehealth service cuts out travel time, providing patients with on-demand care. Patients can save on gas, public transportation, and prevent missing work by using telehealth services.
Telehealth makes it simpler to have more choices in your care. You are no longer restricted to doctors and medical professional by location—get referred to the best specialists around the world, 24/7! Best of all, telehealth solutions, like the mymedchocies app make it easy to stay in touch with your doctor by text or email, self-schedule appointments, and monitor your progress. If you’re interested in new ways to stay on top of your health without leaving the comfort of your home, try our telehealth platform.