Making the Most of Your Checkup

For some people, the doctor’s office is a stressful place. Sometimes patients are so stressed, they forget their physician’s instructions! The best way to prevent this from happening to you is to have a plan when you visit your doctor.

A productive checkup increases the potential for a more effective outcome. Before you visit your doctor, check out these seven simple tips:

Preparing for Your Doctor’s Visit

1. Your Symptoms

Your physician can help you most if he or she knows exactly how you are feeling. When you go to see the doctor for a specific reason, write down in advance how you feel. Your physician needs to know who, what, where, when, why and how much – just like a middle school word problem.

Take 15 minutes to write down:

  • What your symptoms feel or look like. Be specific with your descriptors. Here’s a quick list, but use your own words: achy, stabbing, dull, burning, tingly, stiff, sore.
  • Where your symptoms affect you. Do they start in one place or all over?
  • When your symptoms began.
  • Why your symptoms act up. What seems to trigger them.
  • Also write down what reduces or eases your symptoms. Don’t be afraid to include anything that helps. Alcohol, nicotine or other substances can help, and that information will help your doctor.
  • How often do you experience your symptoms and for how long. Are they annoying or crushing?

2. Your Homework

Believe it or not, it helps doctors when you have already looked up your symptoms and have done a bit of research about your condition. This isn’t like your uncle who gets on WebMD and then posts on Facebook that he now has the rarest form of cancer ever.

Researching in advance helps a physician because you can now better understand medical terms they might use. If your throat hurts, glance over the different parts of the throat so you can be specific about your pain and where in the throat you feel discomfort. That helps improve diagnoses than starting with, “It hurts when I swallow.”

Right Before You See the Doctor

3. What Do You Want?

Once you’ve prepared for the doctor, it’s important to prepare for yourself. Write down what you want to know, because – believe it or not – some people get stressed in the doctor’s office and forget what they want to ask. Your checkup is your time. Make sure you get the answers you want. And leave space so you can write down your doctor’s answers (see No. 6).

  • What is wrong with me? What is the name of my disease?
  • Do I need a diagnostic test? Which ones?
  • What are my treatment options? What drugs are you prescribing, and what do I need to know about them?
  • Can the doctor detail their prognosis: What can I expect to happen to me? How long can we expect this to last?
  • Should you reach out for help? Will you experience fatigue, depression or other negative feelings?

4. Where’s Your Medical Information?

  • Did you doctor order tests before your meeting? Make sure you’ve picked up your results in advance. (Nowadays, many imaging results can be sent digitally.)
  • Your doctor is going to ask you what medication you are already taking. Make a list of all your prescriptions and any over-the-counter medication you’ve been taking to alleviate your symptoms. Please add medicines like Tylenol or NyQuil, any natural supplements you’ve been using, or herbal remedies. If they’ve been working well, please let the doctor know that, too.
  • For most appointments, you should bring along a detailed medical history. If your symptoms are especially problematic, make sure to include the health history of your immediate blood relatives.

5. Who Should Your Doctor Contact?

  • Your intake form will ask for emergency contacts.
  • List other doctors who treat you and for what conditions. This should even include chiropractors and holistic healers.
  • Include your preferred pharmacy name, phone and address.

Listening

6. Document New Information

  • Nothing beats an old pen and paper when it comes to learning new information. Write down your doctor’s answers to your questions so you can fully understand them.
  • Take notes on other information the doctor gives you.
  • If a caregiver, spouse or friend joins you on your visit, ask them to take notes for you, so that you can focus on what the doctor is saying.

7. Next Steps

  • Talk to your insurance company about the doctor’s suggestions to make sure you can follow their orders in-network.
  • Ask for authorizations for specialists or other procedures.
  • Make sure you have the phone number of the doctor’s office to follow-up or to ask further questions. Ask for the best person to contact and the best times to call.

Being prepared for a doctor’s appointment will help ensure a more productive office visit. When you are ready to see the doctor, contact us here. We look forward to serving you and will do the very best we can to answer all of your health questions.

Do you have other tips you’d like to share with us? Comment below, please!

Advertisements

Seniors, “Get Moving…Start Improving!”

This week we celebrated Senior Health & Fitness Day to promote the benefits of exercise for seniors. The health benefits of regular exercise and physical activity are hard to ignore. As your body becomes older and weaker, and as your metabolism slows down, it’s important to keep active and moving. The rewards of physical activity are clear: higher metabolism, better blood pressure and heart health, increased bone density, and the list goes on.

Seniors Swimming

5 Myths about Exercise and Older Adults

From HelpGuide.Org

Myth 1: There’s no point to exercising. I’m going to get old anyway.

Fact: Exercise and strength training helps you look and feel younger and stay active longer. Regular physical activity lowers your risk for a variety of conditions, including Alzheimer’s and dementia, heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, high blood pressure, and obesity.

Myth 2: Elderly people shouldn’t exercise. They should save their strength and rest.

Fact: Research shows that a sedentary lifestyle is unhealthy for the elderly. Period. Inactivity often causes seniors to lose the ability to do things on their own and can lead to more hospitalizations, doctor visits, and use of medicines for illnesses.

Myth 3: Exercise puts me at risk of falling down.

Fact: Regular exercise, by building strength and stamina, prevents loss of bone mass and improves balance, actually reducing your risk of falling.

Myth 4: It’s too late. I’m already too old to start exercising

Fact: You’re never too old to exercise! If you’ve never exercised before, or it’s been a while, start with light walking and other gentle activities.

Myth 5: I’m disabled. I can’t exercise sitting down.

Fact: Chair-bound people face special challenges but can lift light weights, stretch, and do chair aerobics to increase range of motion, improve muscle tone, and promote cardiovascular health.

Click here to read more on the benefits of elderly fitness…
— — —

If you are elderly, we recommend that you get medical clearance from your doctor before starting an exercise program to find out if there are any activities you should avoid. Call 806.358.0200, If you would like to schedule a visit with a physician here at the Amarillo Diagnostic Clinic.