According to a study by an associate dean at the University of California, a typical male asks no questions when visiting the doctor. In contrast, women fair slightly better by asking six questions on average. Not such a great improvement, though, is it?
Some studies also show that 50% of the patients leave the doctor’s office even if they don’t understand how to care for themselves. And only 15% of the patients fully comprehend what their doctor has explained. These stats paint a bleak picture of how patients care for themselves—without any tangible guidance from their doctor.
In this situation, doctors are not the only ones to be blamed. Undoubtedly, they must ensure that patients understand what they are told when they leave their clinic. Their language should be simple, without complicated jargon, and patients should be given time to speak their concerns.
But the responsibility lies on patients, too; they must ask questions until they are satisfied. So instead of making their visit to the doctor only about listening, make sure to discuss your concerns as well.
If you have an appointment with your doctor soon, here is what you must ask them.
- Enquire about your illness
The first thing you must get from your doctor’s visit is more knowledge about your illness. Ask them what your illness is and how it can unfold over time. For example, discuss all possible treatment options if you have a complicated illness such as mesothelioma (a deadly lung cancer). Being diagnosed with cancer is not easy, and you need to be mentally and emotionally prepared to fight this battle. Asking questions can help you cope with it better. For example, your doctor can tell you about the mesothelioma survival rate, how you got the disease, what changes you need to make in your lifestyle, and much more.
- Ask about the test
Some doctors try to diagnose patients without any tests. And the patient believes their judgment, not knowing any better. Unfortunately, this neglect often leads to other problems when the wrong medicines are prescribed.
However, if the doctor you visit is professional, there is a good chance they will conduct some tests to ensure what is happening. When they write about tests on the prescription, don’t just pick your file up and leave. Ask your doctor about these tests, why you are asked to undergo them, and how they will help them know your condition. When you leave the doctor’s room, you should be sure of the purpose of what you are about to do.
- Enquire about medication
Perhaps you have a condition requiring you to take medicines at various times during the day. But the problem with people is that they take pills without knowing what they are for. Therefore, when your doctor writes the medication, ask them about their efficacy and what they will do to cure your condition.
Ask about the side effects of the medication and how they are likely to occur. Also, don’t forget to ask about the possibility of drug antagonism. This happens when one drug interferes with another drug or supplement, leading to serious health issues. To avoid drug interference, bring your previous prescriptions and medications you might be taking. Then, your doctor can look at them and prescribe accordingly.
- Find out the alternatives
Always enquire about alternative options when a medication is prescribed, and there is a chance of side effects. In medicines, substitute options almost always exist. Therefore, you can ask your doctor about other medication options that might have better results and fewer chances of reactions.
Sometimes cost is a reason too for asking about alternatives. For example, some medications are more expensive than others because a big brand manufactures them. You can request your doctor to write affordable options, especially when the treatment is long-term.
- Ask about the online resources you can visit
With so many people searching about their illnesses and even more writing about them, you might not know which resource or website to trust. It is okay to ask your doctor about the website they trust and can recommend you to learn more about your illness.
The most credible websites are less commercial and support their claims with research and evidence. A rule of thumb when visiting online resources is to focus more on websites supported by the healthcare system, a prestigious university, or the government.
- Know about new vaccines and screenings
Vaccines and screenings keep you healthy. The former prepares your body for the attack of the disease they are designed for, and the latter helps you locate the problem at its earliest stage. If you qualify for new vaccines, know about their schedule and plan to get the shots at your earliest.
As for screenings, some common ones you must undergo periodically include blood pressure, blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, etc.
- Ask if you have a healthy weight
More inclination toward unhealthy habits and lifestyle choices such as fast food, sleep deprivation, and excessive alcohol consumption has made weight gain and obesity common health issues. Therefore, when you visit your doctor, ask them if you have a healthy weight according to your height and age. If you don’t fall within the healthy weight bracket, ask for some evidence-based tips to help you manage your weight.
- Ask them to write the prescription legibly
It is common for a doctor to write in a way that is often not decipherable to the patients. Apart from the names of the medicines, which always look unfamiliar, reading the dosage requirements might be difficult too. Therefore, when the doctor writes the medications, politely ask them to write legibly. Unfortunately, at least 1.5 million Americans get their dosage requirements wrong and harm themselves. Therefore, being careful is better.
Your doctor plays an essential role in keeping you healthy. Unfortunately, you might be making countless doctor visits but not getting positive results. It is mainly because you aren’t asking the right questions. The article above mentions the things you must discuss with your doctor. This list is not exhaustive, but it can give you the starting points to consider during your doctor’s visit.