Like many Americans, a doctor’s visit may be the LAST thing on your agenda. It practically takes up an entire day, leaving you missing work or other responsibilities that just seem more important at the time. On average, we are visiting the doctor less and less every year. According to the United States Census Bureau, most of us go 4–5 times a year unless we have pre-existing conditions that REQUIRE us to go.
You should, however, go at least once a year. Even a perfectly healthy individual should be going for a physical and checkup from their doctor to make sure there are no radical changes in your wellbeing. The Washington Post claims that most people will get a late diagnosis at least once in their lives. You want to stay on top of any lingering issues and make sure you bring them up when you are in the appointment. If you are only going 4–5 times a year, make sure you get the most out of your visit! We have listed some great tips for a new or regular doctor. If you are going to commit a half-day to a day for an appointment, get the most out of it!
- Prepare a printout or neatly written description of your medical history at the beginning of your relationship. This helps doctors out enormously and will free up time for talking about current problems, and the appointment won’t feel like a Q&A session. This sheet should have some critical information on it and should be split into individual sections
- Past of Present illnesses (and the treatment, if any, you received!)
- Hospitalizations – the big details are what hospital and for how long. If it’s concerning information, the doctor should be able to pull your records with your permission.
- Family History – Including how old relatives were when they were diagnosed! How old someone is when they are diagnosed with something is critically important to understand if this family history can affect you or when it could affect you.
- Include a list of any current medications, how often you are meant to be taking them, and at what dosage you are taking them. Having a list to show your doctor is much easier than carting all your medication bottles in a bag and worrying about forgetting one.
- Write down your concerns and questions! It is always harder to remember what to ask when you finally get to the appointment.
- If you have been diagnosed with something, here are some key questions to ask
- Find out if the condition is temporary or will be ongoing
- Is it contagious?
- Is there a genetic component that could affect your family?
- Ask your doctor how certain they are about the diagnosis and what else it could be.
- If you feel unsure, especially with life-altering diagnoses, don’t feel that you will offend your doctor by getting a second opinion.
- Keep your printout to one or, at most, two pages. Bringing a novel containing every tiny issue will end up taking the focus away from the important issues.
- Bring a trusted friend or family member to an appointment. They can keep your story complete, ask questions, and listen on your behalf. If you are really sick with the flu, it can be hard to keep technical medications straight!
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