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8 Questions Your Doctor Wants You To Ask

If you want to get the most out of your relationship with your doctor, it’s important to take an active role in your care. Often that means asking questions.

You have a limited amount of time with your doctor, but you can accomplish a lot if you have a plan. By arming yourself with questions, you’ll learn more about what’s happening with your body and the reasoning behind suggested treatments. You’ll also develop a more open relationship, helping you become more comfortable revealing intimate details about your health.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at eight questions you can ask your primary care doctor:

How Does Family History Affect My Health?

Your conversations with your doctor should include a thorough exploration of your family’s medical history. If a sibling or parent has had cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes or some other chronic medical condition, ask what it means for you. If you have an elevated risk, your doctor can develop preventive or screening strategies to protect your health.

How Can Lifestyle Changes Help Me?

Your health can be directly impacted by the way you live – how you eat, drink, sleep and exercise. Many chronic health conditions, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol, can often be improved through lifestyle changes. Ask your doctor about steps you can take to correct your diet and increase your level of physical activity. Your doctor can also provide strategies for reducing high levels of stress that could be impacting your health.

Why Are You Prescribing This Medication?

Yes, your doctor is a medical expert. But that doesn’t mean you need to sit quietly while new drugs are being prescribed. Don’t be afraid to ask about the benefits and any alternative treatment options. Ask how soon the medication will take effect and whether you should take it on an empty stomach. This exchange also opens up another opportunity for a conversation about your health.

Does This Medication Have Side Effects? There’s no reason to take a new medication without knowing how it might affect your body. Ask about any potential side effects, how soon they might occur, how to know if they are potentially dangerous and what to do if they are. You also should know what will happen if you stop taking the medication.

Why Do I Need This Test? As you get older, you will face what may seem like an endless array of tests. As with your medications, you should ask why the test is being done and what the results might show. How long will it take to get the results? There may also be alternatives. For example, while a colonoscopy is considered the gold standard for colorectal cancer screening, there are other tests available.

Can We Talk About My Sexual Health Concerns? Often people may be reluctant to speak opening about sex and any problems they’re encountering. This may be an easier conversation if you have an open relationship with your doctor. Either way, remember that nothing you can say will surprise your doctor. Just be direct and talk about what’s bothering you.

What May Have Caused My Condition? This can help you learn more about how you developed your condition and how treatment plans could affect it. Depending on your condition, this could be a vast topic. Many diseases and disorders can be caused by a range of factors, including lifestyle choices (poor diet, for example), environmental factors and genetics. Identifying the potential risk factors could improve your health outlook. And if there is a chance that genetics are involved, it could also be important information to share with your parents, siblings and children.

How Can I Learn More About My Condition? Your doctor can serve as an excellent starting point on your information-gathering journey. You may be able to leave the office with informational pamphlets. And before jumping onto an Internet search engine, ask your doctor for suggestions on reliable sources or studies and, perhaps just as important, sources to avoid.

Remember that your doctor can only do so much if you don’t take an active role in your care. So, don’t be afraid to ask some questions.

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