Visiting your doctor is often a very stressful experience, and quite frankly, that white coat can be downright intimidating. If you are like most people, you want to get and get out as quickly as possible. The problem is that communicating with your doctor and asking them questions can help you ensure that you get the aid and medical care you may need.
Asking questions might make you feel better, but the doctor can also use your questions to help evaluate you and your health concerns. Don’t be afraid to communicate with your doctor as they are there to help you not only feel physically better but mentally and emotionally as well.
Why Is It Important to Ask Your Doctor Questions?
Asking questions can help shape the entire doctor visit. A patient that is asking questions is someone aware of their health needs and will likely be healthier in the long run. Here are just a few reasons why asking your doctor questions is essential.
Clarity: Walking into the doctor’s office, especially a specialist, can often leave you with more questions than you had when you walked in. It is not uncommon to want to call back and speak with your doctor to gain more clarity on what they said to you during your visit. Unfortunately, it is hard to reach a doctor directly when you’ve left, so you are forced to go through a receptionist or make another appointment. Try your best to ask all the questions you can think of while you are there so that you can get the clarity or peace of mind that you need in one visit.
Offers Doctor More Direction: Your doctor can learn quite a bit from the medical evaluation, family history, and the symptoms you are presenting or expressed to them. In addition to the normal parts of your medical evaluation, your questions can point your doctor in a different direction as it will inform them of your concerns and needs. For example, if you express that your back hurts and your doctor prescribes a muscle relaxer, if you ask them, “will this help me sleep?” they are now aware that you were having trouble sleeping. Although seemingly unrelated to your back pain, you are now going to get the help you need for your lack of sleep.
Informed Decision Making: Asking questions can ensure that you are making the proper decisions for yourself. Oftentimes, a procedure that a doctor recommends will only fix one of several symptoms you are experiencing. If they recommend a procedure and you ask what that procedure will help, you may not be interested in surgery if it is not going to fix the root problem. Your doctor typically knows the best course of action, but you may not be interested in a surgical procedure with few results. With more information, you can make an informed decision for yourself.
Let’s You Know if Your Doctor Cares: When visiting your doctor, it sometimes feels as if they are in a hurry or don’t care about you. That may or may not be true, but asking questions can help you understand if that is reality. If they seem to be rushing you, annoyed by your questions, and frustrated that they have to provide answers, it might be time to seek a new doctor. While that sounds like a daunting and incredibly tedious task, finding the right doctor can be the difference between years of ailments and health conditions and getting the care you need to become healthy within months. Loyalty is not rewarded when it comes to your health needs.
What To Ask Your Doctor
There are the no-brainer questions, such as requesting information about symptoms, medications, and appointment times, but there are also some questions that you should ask to help improve your experience altogether. Here are five questions that you should ask your doctor to enhance your treatment process.
- What are all my options: This goes back to the informed decision-making point from earlier. Knowing your options will allow you to decide the best course of action for yourself. You may not be comfortable with surgical options right out of the gate, so you opt for the slow route. On the flip side of that, the doctor might be opting for the slow route when you’re more interested in an immediate permanent solution that is guaranteed through surgery. Knowing your options can lead to your preferred results.
- What Should I Expect After Treatment: Asking this question can help you know what tomorrow looks like. For example, if you have sleep apnea and you are speaking to a doctor about a deviated septum repair to fix that, asking what the reasonable expected outcome from septoplasty is can lead to you making a different decision as a deviated septum may or may not be the primary contributing factor to your sleep apnea. This is not to say you shouldn’t fix your deviated septum; it just might not be your primary concern.
- Are There Any Side Effects: Doctors are often keen on telling you what you need to do to enhance your health but don’t always tell you what the treatment entails regarding side effects. For instance, when you get abdominal surgery, your doctor will inform you of “gas pain.” They are not referring to the day-to-day gas that you experience daily. During abdominal surgery, they insert gas into your abdomen to create room for them to work. This gas often pushes on nerves causing pain in your back or shoulder that can become unbearable. Knowing this prior to surgery can help you request different forms of pain management or seek other options if possible.
- What Next: Asking your doctor what the next steps are can help you prepare. Is it surgery? Is it Tylenol? Do you just need to lose weight and return in three months? Learning the answers to this question can ensure that you can plan your health accordingly.
- Are There Any Questions I Haven’t Asked That You Can Answer For Me: There is a good chance that your doctor has more information for you that they didn’t quite feel necessary to share, or they had questions that other patients have asked that you didn’t. Leaving this open-ended will allow your doctor to go into greater detail. This may lead to more questions and greater clarity for all parties involved.
Communication is Key
Your doctor is there to ensure that you live a long and healthy life. Withholding information and avoiding communicating with them does you no good. Open up to your doctor so that you can get the care and health advice that you need to feel better and improve your day-to-day life.
Schedule an appointment with your doctor and ask them every question that you can think of regarding your health needs and symptoms. Even if you don’t find something relevant, your doctor can use your questions and information to evaluate you further. Don’t let the rushed atmosphere and stress cause you to put off your health concerns. Advocate for yourself through questions and communication.