How to Ask Your Doctor Questions.

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1.  Know the purpose of your visit. Is it just for a blood-pressure check? An annual physical? A follow-up visit for a previous problem? Schedules at medical offices are often based on the type of visit, shorter times for routine or simple things, more time for expanded or comprehensive things. So a routine visit for your cholesterol for instance, would be a good time to ask about proper diet. Of course if there is a recent change or concerning symptom, bring that up as soon as you can.

2.  Before your visit, make a list of the top 2 or 3 things that are of concern to you. For each item, describe the following factors:

* What is it? (a pain, sensation, feeling, bump or lump, change in body function, etc.)
* How long has it been there? Have you had it before?
* How frequent is it? (every other day, every morning, after I eat, etc.)
* What have you tried for it?

3.  If you can, give your health-care provider advance notice of your problems if they are different than the intended visit. If the scheduled appointment is to check your cholesterol, but you’ve been been having a cough, they may be able to do some advance tests (such as an xray or bloodwork) that may be done and ready by the time of your visit.  Plus they may be able to adjust the schedule to accommodate your extra needs.

4.  Do some research before your visit.  You may answer your own question or come up with questions that you may not have thought of.

5.  Don’t be shy.  You’re not going to tell them anything that they haven’t heard before.  Just say it in plain English.

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