Here's How to Get the Most Out of Your Doctor Visits

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Whether you're going to the doctor for an annual checkup, an illness, or an injury, you deserve to get the most out of your doctor's visit. Your doctor can diagnose you, prescribe medicine, recommend specialists, and teach you how to stay healthy and how to prevent future problems. However, if you don't know what to ask, what to bring, or how to advocate for yourself, you might not be getting the full benefit of your doctor's visit.

It's important that your doctor have as much information about your health background as possible, so you should always provide your doctor's office with an up-to-date vaccinations list, as well as any tests you have had done in the past year. Don't be afraid to ask questions or write down any of the advice and names of prescriptions that your doctor gives you. If you aren't totally confident speaking up about your health, bring a friend you trust who can help you advocate for your health.

You could be getting a lot more out of your doctor's appointment than just a clean bill of health. Here is how to get the most out of your doctor visits.

Have Copies of Up-to-Date Test Results

It's important to provide your doctor with as much information about your past health as possible. It's also important to have test work that is up to date. Bring copies of your latest vaccinations and test results to your doctor's office. They will keep the information on file and share it with your doctor.

Bring Medications

If you can't remember the name of the medications you're on, it's a great idea to bring the physical bottles in to your next appointment.

Write Down Any Herbal Supplements You Take

You might think that because herbal supplements are made with natural ingredients, they won't interfere with medications. However, they might. It's a great idea to write down what herbal supplements you are taking and share that information with your doctor.

Share Your Symptoms

You should always tell your doctor everything you're feeling - especially when you're coming in because of an ailment and not just for a checkup. Even though they might be embarrassing or small, share all of the symptoms you are having.

Ask Questions

Never be afraid to ask questions. If you don't know what something means, if you are worried about the possible root cause of an illness, or if you don't know how to manage pain, ask your doctor. They can recommend a ton of things to you - where to find a physical therapist, the best way to take care of your bones, how to avoid getting an infection in the future, etc.

Ask About the Side Effects of a New Medication

Medications almost always have some side effects. Your doctor may not volunteer this information at first. But just because your doctor doesn't warn you about the side effects doesn't mean there aren't any. You should always ask! A side effect that might not bother one person might be a deal-breaker for another.

Bring a Friend to Advocate

If you don't feel comfortable speaking up, bring a friend to your appointment (as long as you are OK with them knowing your intimate health details). Your friend can help explain what you're experiencing or how they've experienced your particular ailment, plus they might pose important questions that you never thought to ask.

Write Things Down

Nobody has a perfect memory! If you think you won't remember your doctor's advice, write it down. If you want to research a particular medication before you take it, write down its name. If your doctor is recommending any kind of specialist, write down their name. Make sure to ask for the correct spelling!

Schedule Your Next Appointment

The best time to schedule your next doctor's appointment is while you're at the doctor's office. Come prepared knowing what dates you're free and what time frame works best. You will be able to set it up with the receptionist easily!

Ask About Other Treatment Options

Many times, there are multiple options for treating the same medical condition. Your doctor probably has some sort of reasoning as to why they selected the treatment plan they did - but they could have also selected one simply because it's the most common. Some treatment options may work better for you or fit more easily within your budget. Knowing what these options are is a good place to start.
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