Going to the doctor’s office can feel intimidating — the questions are seemingly endless and especially uncomfortable when you don’t know the answers. However, routine visits are essential to ensure you and your family are remaining healthy. Instead of showing up unprepared, there are things you can do before the exam to improve the likelihood of it going smoothly.
Whether you’re scheduling an appointment for yourself or your child, here are eight things to consider before going to the doctor.
1. What Is Your Family’s Medical History?
Most forms will include a portion regarding your family’s medical history. Since some conditions have a genetic link, your doctors will want the most updated information you know. More specifically, you should note any chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease. With this in mind, talk to your family members and make a list relating to direct relatives. If your kids are going, you’ll want to ask your partner about their side of the family so that you can provide a complete history on your child’s behalf.
2. When Was Your Last Visit?
Children 3-years or older should visit the physician annually — in comparison, babies need to have examinations more frequently. Adults should also have routine visits, and those check-ups may be more frequent if you have an underlying health condition. If you’re questioning whether to schedule an appointment, consider when you had your last exam.
You should meet with your doctor at least once a year— even if you feel healthy — to screen for potential health concerns. For example, you might not notice if your blood pressure is high, but that’s something they’d likely catch at a routine exam.
3. Have You Received Preventive Screening?
Experts agree that preventive care can increase life expectancy drastically, especially for individuals age 30 to 49. Preventive maintenance helps you to sustain your health by making wellness a priority. The idea is to screen for potential concerns before you become unwell. By partaking in these services, you reduce the likelihood of developing symptoms and save money over time.
Examples of commonly covered preventive screenings include:
- Blood pressure
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STD)
This list is not exhaustive — there are numerous screenings geared towards specific ages and genders, which you can obtain.
4. How Serious Is Your Condition?
If you have a severe injury or condition, you should go to the emergency room rather than your family physician. This includes anything life-threatening or unknown, like an allergic reaction. Doctors at the hospital will be able to treat you and your child faster and more efficiently than if you had gone to a standard office.
If you’re visiting because you feel unwell, you should evaluate the severity of the issue to stress the importance to your doctor. For example, if you go to the physician because you have a sore throat, they may decide it’s a common virus and give you antibiotics. However, if you explain that this condition has persisted for weeks, your doctor may refer you to see a specialist.
5. Do You Have Any Underlying Symptoms?
If you plan to attend a routine exam, you should note any underlying symptoms you may wish to discuss. These symptoms may be minor nuisances that you’ve noticed but deemed too small to warrant a doctor’s appointment. Examples might include headaches, itchy ears or unusual emotions. Your physician is not a mind reader, so you’ll need to be forward about any conditions you’ve noticed. They’ll be able to offer guidance and closer inspection regarding your concerns.
6. What Questions Do You Have?
People intend to ask questions at their appointments but often leave more confused than when they arrived. Before you go to the exam, make a list of any matters you’d like to discuss. This could involve health concerns, questions about medications or even preventive care practices you could implement at home. When you go to the doctors, bring your list and record their answers. Ask them to repeat and spell out any unfamiliar words so that you can refer back to your notes with clarity.
While you’re there, it may be worthwhile to ask about authoritative medical sources so that you do not find misinformation on the internet.
7. Should You Create a Personal Health Journal?
If you’ve noticed consistent symptoms before your appointment, you may want to create a personal health journal. Knowledge will help you take control of your health, and writing down your habits may help you uncover patterns. Many people discover they have food allergies by keeping a food diary, and the personal health journal works in the same way.
Besides helping you keep track of your health, journaling may motivate you to continue pursuing your wellness goals.
8. Are You Hoping to Change Medications?
There are many medications available on the market, and you may find that one suits your needs better than another. If you are hoping to change medications, you should note other alternatives you’d like to learn more about. The doctor may know a better option, but you’ll have an opportunity to address the situation either way.
Since some medications can adversely react to other prescriptions, you should ask about potential side effects whenever changing types or adding something new to your regimen.
Take Charge of Your Wellness
Remember to consider these eight things before going to the doctor. By taking charge of your wellness visits, you’ll be able to maximize the time with your doctor. While answering these questions should help you prepare, you can always call your healthcare office after a visit if you think of anything new you’d like to mention.