Picture this: You’ve waited months to see a specialist, and finally you’re going tomorrow. Then you see her, and you initially think the appointment went well, but as you’re heading home you remember two or three questions you forgot to ask.

Don’t worry as this scenario happens to many people. Whether you’re trying to stay on top of your health or to stay on top of a family member’s health, it’s important to adequately prepare for a doctor’s visit—whether to see a specialist or your family doctor.

Here is a list of ways to help you get the most out of your doctor’s visits.

  1. Prepare a list of questions: A week before your doctor’s appointment spend 30 minutes or more thinking about what you want him to answer for you. Perhaps it’s related to an upcoming surgery, symptoms or side effects you’ve been experiencing from medications. Make sure you put it all down so that there are no questions left unanswered.
  1. Keep a symptom diary: If you are taking new medications, or you’ve recently been diagnosed with a new condition, then it’s important to write down your symptoms so that you can relay these to your doctor. Doing this could avoid unnecessary frustration on your part, or poorer health due to an escalation of your symptoms or side effects.
  1. Write down the names of your medications and dosages: Keep track of what medications you are taking and how much of each. Give a copy to your doctor’s receptionist so the office has one on file. Sometimes there are contraindications with medications not working well together, and so it’s really important that your doctor has the complete picture.
  1. Be honest: If your doctor asks you how much alcohol you consume or how many cigarettes you smoke, it’s important to answer honestly. Remember that he has heard everything. Answering honestly will help him prescribe the best medications for your condition while also helping you to create a healthy exercise and food regimen to keep you healthier longer.
  1. Write it down: Bring a notepad and pen with you to your doctor’s appointment so you can write down important information she says and not forget it. Some health professionals will allow you to tape record your conversation. If you think it will be easier for you to remember this way, then it doesn’t hurt to ask your doctor. If she says no, then you can go back to old-fashioned pen and paper!



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