Doctor Questions: How to Prepare for Your Appointment
While there are many conditions that can be easily treated at home, sooner or later, everyone will go to the doctor for help with an ailment. While doctor’s work hard and try their very best to treat each patient individually, the truth of the matter is that doctors are simply just busy people. Often, since doctors have so many patients to see, they don’t have time to take a deep look at the specific needs of your body and ask all the tough questions. In many cases, when it comes down to it, a lot of that falls on you as the patient -- whether you realize it or not. Here are some questions to ask your doctor so you can fully understand your best treatment options and take control of your own health.
I. What to ask before you see a doctor
There are some critical questions you’ll want to ask yourself before you ever set foot in the doctor’s office:
1) Have I done my research?
What’s ailing you? Start by googling your symptoms. Chances are good you’ll find a lot of great information for treating your specific ailment from just a simple internet search. Be careful, however, to look for trusted sources. Do you have any friends in the medical field? Don’t hesitate to give them a ring.
2) Do I really need to see a physician?
While there are some cases in which you’ll want to see your doctor right away, there are many times when you can treat your symptoms at home.
3) Is there something a doctor can do for my condition that I can’t do for myself at home?
Again, if you’ve looked at trusted sources online (like Mayo Clinic or WebMD) and found some natural home treatments for your condition, then there’s often no need to go to the doctor. If you have hemorrhoids, for example, it’s possible your symptoms could be treated with a topical ointment or simply through the passage of time. If, however, you are in need of a specific test or you are experiencing severe pain that can’t be solved by simple at-home remedies, visiting the doctor may be in your best interest.
II. What to ask during your appointment with the doctor
1) What is my diagnosis?
After you’ve told your doctor the symptoms you’re experiencing and informed them of the research you’ve done and the remedies you’ve tried, they’ll likely perform a specific check up. After they’ve done so, be sure to ask them what your diagnosis is. Don’t hesitate to ask them why they’ve come to that diagnosis. Remember that the doctor is there for you and your health. You have every right to ask doctor questions.
2) What are my next steps?
Ask about all the possibilities for treatment. Ask if there are any tests that will need to be run. If so, ask why they will need to be run and what information they will give you. If you boldly, yet politely, take control of your own health situation, you’ll ensure that you’re getting the correct treatment and receiving the best help possible.
If your doctor prescribes medication, see if he or she can give you any information on the NNT (number needed to treat). The NNT is a way of describing the effectiveness of a given medication. The NNT formula, when it comes to patients, essentially boils down to the number needed to treat to prevent one additional bad outcome. If the NNT is one, it means that all patients improve with the given medication or treatment. Look for medications where the number needed to treat is as close to one as possible. Keep in mind that the more rare your condition is and the harder it is to treat, the higher the NNT will be, but anything below 2.5 is considered a satisfactory drug.
3) Is there anything specifically I can do personally to speed up my recovery?
While taking advice from your doctor and other medical professionals, be committed to taking charge of your own health. Ask what you can do to help your body recover. Ask your doctor for special advice for your specific ailment. Often there is a lot you can do beyond taking medication. Doing your part will often help you avoid extensive and expensive continuing appointments and treatments.
III. What to ask after your appointment with the doctor
1) Am I strictly following the doctor’s advice?
In most cases, if you’ve asked the right questions at your appointment and done your research beforehand, you’ll come out of your appointment with the tools and information you need to get better. Were you prescribed any medication? If so, are you taking it when and how you’ve been told? Are there specific side effects that are bothering you? Are they the same side effects your doctor mentioned? Are you doing everything else your doctor encouraged you to do to get better?
2) Are there any additional safe treatments I can try?
After you’ve done all the doctor has suggested, getting online and looking for additional advice won’t hurt. Do others with your same ailment have good advice for recovery?
3) Are things turning out like the doctor said they would?
Pay careful attention to whether or not your condition is following the course your doctor predicted according to the treatment you’ve been given. While patience is key, if treatments aren’t having the results your doctor said they would, it may be time to look into other options.
Overall: Take charge of your own health
As you ask these questions, you’ll be taking charge of your own health. Taking responsibility for your own treatment will help your doctor know how best to help you. Ask your doctor questions, get to the root, and get healthy.