As a physician, there are a few things the I wish everyone knew for the simple reason that it would help empower them to take control of their health and well-being. So here is a list of seven of them. From how to make the most out of your health visits to antibiotics for the common cold, here are seven important things that your doctor wants you to know that will help you live a healthier and happier life.
1. Empower yourself by making a list of your questions and concerns ahead of your visits
During a doctor’s appointment, it can be easy to forget important questions you wanted to ask. Therefore, the first thing that your doctor wants you to know is that writing down your questions and specific concerns ahead of time can help ensure that you don’t forget anything.
When you come prepared with a list, you are making sure that you get the most out of your appointment. Your doctor can address all of your concerns and provide you with the information you need to make informed decisions about your health.
Writing down your questions ahead of time can also help reduce anxiety about your appointment. You’ll know that you’re coming prepared and that you won’t forget anything important. In short, by coming prepared with a list, you can help make your appointment as productive and beneficial as possible while allowing you to be more in control of your visit.
2. Consider recording your visits so that you don’t miss important information
Another thing that your doctor wants you to know is that it is absolutely acceptable to use your phone or a tape recorder during a visit and that most doctors are more than happy to oblige.
Recording your appointment can be a useful tool for remembering important information discussed during the visit. This can be especially helpful if you have a complex medical condition or if you are receiving a lot of information at one time.
Recording your appointment can also be helpful for communicating with your loved ones about your medical care. They can listen to the recording and better understand the information discussed during the visit. Your recording can also be a useful reference for future appointments, in which you can listen to the recording to refresh your memory about previous discussions and decisions made during the visit.
If you are planning on recording your visit, be sure to mention it to the doctor ahead of time. This is because they may have their own policies about recording—and also because it’s simply courteous to do so. Additionally, some states in the United States have laws that require both parties to consent to a recording, so it’s better to be cautious.
3. Never be afraid to be open and honest
Another thing that your doctor wants you to know is that you should never be afraid to be completely open and honest during a visit. Health care professionals are there to provide you with the best possible care, and they can only do so if they have accurate information about your health. This includes revealing all of your symptoms, medications, and over-the-counter supplements.
By being honest and open with your doctor, you can help ensure that they have all the information they need to make an accurate diagnosis and develop an effective treatment plan.
- Never be embarrassed: If you do find yourself feeling embarrassed about bringing up something, remember this: Your doctor has seen and heard it all before, and there is nothing that you can say or ask that will surprise or shock them. They are there to provide a judgment-free environment where you can discuss any health concerns you may have.
- Honesty will help you get the best care: There have been, unfortunately, many documented instances in which delays in treatment have resulted from a patient being hesitant to reveal something and either left a piece of information out or gave inaccurate information. This is unfortunate but preventable. By being hesitant to discuss certain things with your doctor, you may end up delaying important medical treatment that could help improve your health or save your life.
In short, honesty is essential for accurate diagnosis and treatment. When you are open and honest with your health care professionals, you can help ensure that you receive the best care possible.
4. Antibiotics really do not help a cold or the flu, but if you insist, it might still be prescribed
While antibiotics are essential for treating bacterial infections, they do not work at all for cold and flu. Cold and flu are caused by viruses, which unfortunately means that they just have to run their course. Therefore, another thing that your doctor wants you to know is that even though antibiotics are not helpful in this case, if you insist on them, some providers will give in and prescribe them.
What this means is that it is important to understand why your doctor doesn’t like to prescribe unnecessary antibiotics. It is because taking antibiotics for a viral infection will not only be ineffective, but it can also be harmful in the long run, as it can lead to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
This is a serious problem because if you do get a bacterial infection in the future that requires antibiotics, it will be more difficult to find an effective one for you. This is why your doctor likes to only prescribe antibiotics if they believe they are necessary for treating a bacterial infection.
So what can you do for a cold or the flu? The following are some measures you can take that are proven to help alleviate cold and flu symptoms and promote your recovery.
Ways to help a cold or the flu
- Get plenty of rest: Rest is important for the body to fight off infections and to recover in a timely way. It is recommended to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep per night and to take it easy during the day.
- Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of fluids—such as water, tea, or broth—can help to thin mucus and reduce congestion. It is recommended to avoid sugary drinks and alcohol while you are sick because they are not that helpful in hydrating the body.
- Use over-the-counter medications: There are several over-the-counter medications that can help to alleviate symptoms, such as pain relievers for headaches and body aches, decongestants for nasal congestion, and cough suppressants for coughing.
- Use a humidifier: Adding moisture to the air can help ease nasal congestion and soothe irritated nasal passages. Using a humidifier or taking a steamy shower can help to provide relief.
- Eat a healthy diet: Eating a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables can help boost your immune system and promote healing.
5. Use Dr. Google judiciously (it is not always your friend)
The next thing that your doctor wants you to know is that even though they want you to be informed about your health, googling your health problems is not always the best thing to do. Here is why searching for health information on the internet is not always helpful:
- The information can be overwhelming: Googling health problems can provide access to a vast amount of information, but it can also be overwhelming and confusing. With so much information available, it can be challenging to determine what’s reliable and relevant to your specific situation. This can lead to unnecessary anxiety and confusion, making it difficult to make informed decisions about your health.
- It can cause unnecessary anxiety: Reading about rare or serious medical conditions online can cause unnecessary anxiety and fear. It is important to remember that many symptoms can be caused by common and treatable conditions, and not everything you read online will apply to your specific situation. As we all know, it’s easy to become fixated on worst-case scenarios and become anxious about your health, even when there is no need for concern.
- It can lead to inaccurate self-diagnosis and self-treatment: Googling health problems can lead to the urge to diagnose and treat yourself, which can potentially be dangerous. Without the expertise of a health care professional, it’s easy to misdiagnose yourself or make things worse by treating yourself with the wrong medication or home remedy. This can delay proper diagnosis and treatment, leading to more significant health problems in the long run.
- Not all of the health information on the internet is accurate or reliable: This should be obvious without saying, but not everything on the internet is true. When you search for health information online, it’s important to keep in mind that a considerable amount of information you come across will be either inaccurate or misleading. Even websites that strive for accuracy can have outdated or incomplete information (including this blog!). In general, online sources that tend to have the most up-to-date health information include websites of medical associations, peer-reviewed research studies, and government health websites.
6. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health
Although there is not always enough time to talk to you about mental health and self-care, your doctor wants you to know that that taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical one.
A person’s mental health can have a significant impact on their overall health and well-being. This is because mental health issues can significantly and directly impact your physical health. Anxiety and depression can lead to changes in sleep patterns, appetite, and energy levels, while chronic stress can increase the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and other physical health problems. It is, therefore, important to take care of your mental health and seek help if you are experiencing anything that you feel is out of the ordinary.
The following are some ways that you can prioritize and improve your mental health.
Ways you can improve your mental health
- Practice self-care: Self-care is essential for maintaining good mental health. This can include activities like getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet, and practicing relaxation techniques like meditation or deep breathing. It’s important to make time for self-care activities that you enjoy and that help you feel rejuvenated and refreshed.
- Seek social support: Having a strong support system can be helpful in managing mental health challenges. This can include family members, friends, or online support groups. It’s important to connect with others regularly, share your thoughts and feelings, and seek support when needed.
- Seek professional help: If you are experiencing mental health challenges, seeking professional help can be an crucial step in improving your overall health. A mental health professional, such as a therapist or psychiatrist, can provide treatment and support that can help you manage your symptoms and improve your overall quality of life. It is important to realize that seeking help for mental health issues is always a sign of strength—not weakness.
- Practice mindfulness: Practicing mindfulness can be a helpful tool for managing stress and anxiety. This can include activities like meditation, yoga, or simply taking a few minutes to focus on your breath and be present in the moment. By practicing mindfulness regularly, you can learn to manage your thoughts and emotions more effectively and reduce stress and anxiety.
- Limit social media and news consumption: Social media and the news can be a real source of stress and anxiety for some people. It is important to be mindful of the amount of time you spend on social media or on reading/watching the news and to take breaks when you start to (or even before you) feel stressed. Use that time instead to focus on activities that bring you joy and help you feel relaxed.
7. Never settle with a health care professional who isn’t listening to you
There is one thing we can all agree on: Every health care provider is different, and their approaches will vary widely. I firmly believe that there is a great doctor out there for every person, so if you feel as if you are just not resonating with your health care provider, never be afraid to speak up or switch to another one. Therefore, the last thing that your doctor wants you to know is that you should never settle for someone who isn’t truly listening to you.
Your doctor should be your partner in care, working with you to develop a treatment plan that meets your individual needs and goals. When in their office, you should feel comfortable discussing your health and trust that they have your best interests in mind. If you do not feel as if your doctor is truly listening to you or taking your concerns seriously, it may be time to consider finding someone new.
Your health is too important to settle for a professional who isn’t providing the level of care you need and deserve. If you are not happy with your health care professional, it is important to speak up and advocate for yourself. This may mean speaking with your current doctor about your concerns or simply finding a new health care provider whom you trust and are happy with.
Be Encouraged To Take Control of Your Health
I hope that by knowing these seven things, you will now feel more encouraged about your health visits as well as how to take care of your health in general. Of course, there are many more things that I (and your doctor) wished you knew, but hopefully the information presented in this article will be enough to give you a leg up when it comes to taking control of your health and well-being.
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