In between a busy work schedule, social plans and managing your family’s calendar, it’s not always easy to find time for a doctor’s appointment. So, when you do, it’s important to make sure that you’re getting the most out of your visit.
“As a primary care doctor, my goal is to build a relationship with every patient. An appointment is a time for me to answer your questions, but also for us to talk about your complete health history and your lifestyle. This allows me to provide a better, more tailored treatment plan to each individual,” says Gabrielle Santarelli, DO, primary care physician at the Main Line Health Center in Broomall.
What can you do to make your next doctor’s visit a success? Dr. Santarelli explains.
Know your symptoms, and come with questions
If your doctor’s appointment is in response to an illness or injury, chronic pain or a health issue that’s persisted for several days or weeks, then you’re probably all too familiar with its symptoms. But could you list them if you were asked? You should be able to, says Dr. Santarelli.
“A detailed list of symptoms can help differentiate one illness from another. For example, a cold and the flu are very similar conditions, but if you tell me that you’re having muscle aches or feeling tired, you might be more likely to have the flu. A comprehensive overview of your symptoms allows your doctor to make the most accurate diagnosis,” she explains.
Provide a review of your medical history
In order for your doctor to provide the best care, you’ll need to provide some insight into your medical history.
“If you’re changing doctors, ask for a copy of your medical records to bring with you to your first appointment. This will give your new doctor some reference for past medical procedures, immunization history, and your family or personal risk for health issues like cancer, heart disease and diabetes,” says Dr. Santarelli.
You should also be prepared to answer questions about any allergies you have, or medications you’re taking, as this can help dictate a treatment plan.
Be ready to talk about your health habits
Part of knowing your health history is being able to provide insight into your lifestyle. Depending on the reason for your visit, your doctor may ask you questions like:
- How many hours of sleep do you get, on average, each night?
- How often do you exercise each week?
- How much alcohol do you drink each week?
- When was the beginning (or end) of your last menstrual cycle?
If you’re preparing for a doctor’s visit, try to think back on your habits and behavior over the past several weeks to have some answers ready.
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