Open communication between doctors and patients is crucial to receiving high-quality care. Good doctors will always try to explain things as simply as possible to help patients feel at ease. However, patients also have a responsibility to ask clarifying questions and bring up new symptoms. To make the most of this year’s annual exam, here are some crucial questions to ask the doctor.
Is my health history putting me at risk?
Family history is one of the most critical factors in determining a patient’s health risks. Conditions like heart disease, diabetes, or osteoporosis are all more likely if a close family member has the disease. Ask the doctor about individual risks and signs and symptoms to watch for.
How is my weight?
Although this question can be uncomfortable, keeping body mass index (BMI) in a healthy range is crucial for maintaining good health. Weight has a direct impact on a person’s risk of diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. Carrying extra weight also leads to increased wear and tear on a person’s joints. Just an additional 10 pounds adds up to the equivalent of an extra 40 pounds of pressure on the joints.
Do I need a lifestyle change?
Certain health habits can either improve or negatively impact health. For example, smoking, drinking more than a few times a week, or not wearing sunscreen all increase a person’s health risks. Some lifestyle factors can be easy to forget. For example, people who have careers where there is constant exposure to loud noise, such as working in construction, need to take unique precautions to protect hearing.
What tests do I need?
Sometimes doctors will order blood tests or x-rays to check for signs of specific conditions. Other tests, such as mammograms, screenings for colorectal cancer, and Pap smears, are done regularly to screen for medical problems that may not have symptoms yet. Before these tests, patients can ask doctors to explain the importance of the test. Also, check if any specific preparation is necessary. When the results are ready, make sure to ask the doctor for help understanding what the results mean.
Do I still need these medications?
Many people continue taking certain medications out of habit. At every annual exam, go over a full prescription and supplement list with the doctor. Verify that all medicines and dosages are correct. When looking at a full prescription list, doctors can also check to make sure that patients are avoiding dangerous medication interactions.
Check for next steps
Annual exams are a crucial part of preventive healthcare. Patients should go to a primary care provider (PCP) at least once yearly. In some cases, additional follow-up or specialist visits may be necessary. Make sure to always ask the doctor about the next steps to improve overall health. To check in about ongoing health, schedule an appointment with a healthcare provider.