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4 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Doctor Visits

Questions to ask your doctorWith many physicians allowed only 10 to 15 minutes for an office visit, it's important to use the time with your doctor to your best advantage. A little preparation can go a long way. Use the suggestions below to create a tailored list for your concerns - in writing is best, so you don't forget anything.

  • List any symptoms, including when and how often they occur, when they first started, and how long they last. Include any treatments you have tried. It may be helpful to keep a symptom diary leading up to your doctor visit, so you can be specific. Be sure to note any food, drink or activity that coincides with the symptoms.
  • Gather your medical history. Include your personal medical history, from the present back to birth, of any serious or chronic diseases, injuries that needed medical treatment, hospitalizations and mental health issues. More information is better - lab reports, imaging study results and names and numbers of your past and present physicians will help. Also have a family history of medical issues, if possible.
  • Make a list of drugs or medications you have used. Note over the counter (OTC) and prescription drugs as well as supplements and vitamins, and any adverse reactions - including allergies to any - you may have had.
  • Bring your meds. Put all your medications and supplements in a bag, and bring them with you so that your doctor gets a complete picture of what you're taking.

When at your appointment, keep the topic focused on two or three top goals, so you can cover everything; be honest about your lifestyle, aches and pains, and concerns so your physician can give you the best feedback; and ask questions until you understand the answers. Also feel free to take notes and make a follow-up appointment if time does run short.