Let’s face it: No one looks forward to a doctor’s visit. Whether it's a checkup, or you’re feeling under the weather, or whether you’re experiencing specific symptoms that have you contemplating a trip to the doctor’s, chances are that you put the visit off for as long as you can.
Harvard Medical School points out that the main problem is that we walk into our appointments unprepared and tend to rush through them – which doesn’t necessarily mean we leave feeling confident that we know enough about our condition, and the recovery and care measures we should be taking.
That’s not how a visit should be though. Think about any other consultation that you would spend time and money on – would you leave without the information or help you were looking for? Would you be encouraged to go back if the consultation didn’t really help to solve your problem? Probably not.
So although they might not be fun, visits to the doctor are inevitable and often important. We’d like to help you make the most out of them. Here are a few pointers that might help the next time you have a doctor’s appointment marked on your calendar:
Prepare ahead of time
Prepare for a doctor’s visit? Sounds a little over the top, we know, but think about it: How many times have you suddenly thought of a question you meant to ask the doctor, and only realised that you forgot to on the drive back? Ah, shoot! But hey, it happens to us all the time.
Next time, try and make a list ahead of time of all the questions you would like to ask. The questions could be as complicated as exploring possible treatment options, to as simple as whether or not bananas can help cure a cold.
Your list ensures that you don’t forget to ask your questions amongst all the stethoscopes, blood pressure checks, thermometers and needles – which can all be a little intimidating.
Relay Your Symptoms
Keep a list of all your symptoms on hand, and don’t be afraid to share them with your doctor. Have your list with you on the visit, and make sure to go over the contents with your doctor.
Even though some symptoms may seem insignificant to you, the list as a whole will aid your doctor in better being able to diagnose and treat you more effectively, and helping to get to the bottom of the problem, and the best possible treatment and cure.
Don’t be shy - tell them your fears!
Do not be afraid to ask your doctor questions, and voice your concerns as well. According to WebMD, it is extremely important that you are as honest as possible while relaying your concerns, too. Your doctor can only help you to the extent that you allow them to.
The more details you leave about what you’re feeling, or what is bothering you, the higher the chances are that the diagnosis is going to help you. So take your time, think about your symptoms and again, write them down beforehand if you think you might forget.
Take along an extra set of ears
We cannot recommend this enough. Because for most patients the discussion of medical or health issues can be a little stressful or overwhelming, it helps to take someone along for your appointment.
Not only will this friend or family member be a tremendous source of moral support, but they will be able to take notes and help with keeping track of important information. We also tend to delete, forget or sometimes not even recognise certain patterns or symptoms that our family or the people we see everyday might be aware of.
For instance, your spouse might notice that you sneeze in certain parts of the house only, or tend to feel an itch after you eat a particular type of food only. You might not notice the pattern yourself, though, and it might be helpful in the diagnosis of an allergy, let’s say.
Take along a list of current medication
When visiting any doctor, it is always recommended that you bring a list of your current medications, as well as the dosages. When making a diagnosis, or when prescribing medication, it’s always best to make sure that the doctor knows what you are currently taking. This list will go a long way to prevent any possible side-effects, and to ensure that the medicines all work together.
Being prepared for your doctor’s visit might seem like a waste of time, or a pre-investment into something you’re already not looking forward to. But making a conscious effort to make the most out of your visits might help to make the appointments the proper aid that they are meant to be.
You should come out of an appointment equipped with sufficient information on your health, and any conditions you might be facing – and certainly more than just a prescription, which is what most of us walk out with, and call it a day.
We’ll finish off with this great 14-step guide that WikiHow has put together on How to Describe Your Medical Symptoms to Your Doctor.