By Camille Peri
Before a doctor appointment, you probably think of the things you want to talk about.
In the shower, you remember that you should ask about those itchy bumps on your scalp. Or grocery shopping reminds you of a question about blood pressure. But then you're there, sitting on the exam table with minutes of your doctor's time, and you draw a blank.
"It's difficult to recall symptoms or questions at a doctor visit because you're nervous," and that anxiety can mess with your memory, says Martine Ehrenclou, author of The Take-Charge Patient: How You Can Get The Best Medical Care.
You're not alone if you squander your chance to pipe up. The average person asks five or less questions per doctor visit, says Sherrie H. Kaplan, MPH, PhD, co-director of the Health Policy Research Institute at the University of California School of Medicine in Irvine. And men are more close-lipped than women. They average zero questions per visit, she says. If it's any consolation, "doctors are no better at it when they are patients."
The more you participate in your doctor visits, though, the more you'll get out of them.
"A good doctor-patient relationship isn't just nice to have," Kaplan says. "We've learned from studies that patients who participate more in treatment decisions have better health outcomes."
These tips can help you speak up and have better visits.
Before-Visit Prep Tips
Unless you enjoy pop quizzes, prepare for your doctor visit in advance. Plan to bring with you:
- Copies of medical records, if this is your first visit
- Medications, vitamins, and supplements you're taking, or a list of them
- Information about recent medical tests
- The names and contact information of other doctors you see
- A list of your questions
- A symptom diary
The more detailed you can make your symptom diary, the better. For instance, if you have stomachaches, Ehrenclou says, keep track of "when they began, when you notice them most, what makes them better or worse, if they coincided with an illness or new medication, and what you think may be causing them. Try to track them on a daily basis, or as best you can."
source : Tips for a successful doctor visit.