Skip to main content

Eight Secrets You Should Tell Your Doctor

It is important to have an open relationship with your primary care physician because the more she knows about your health and lifestyle, the better able she is to diagnose illnesses as they come up.  You wouldn't take your car to a mechanic and not tell him that the brake is sticking.  And a human organism is thousands of times more complicated than a car.  But patients are shy. They are embarrassed. They don't want you to think badly about them.  So they often leave out important information that is critical for the physician to know.  Here are eight secrets you should tell your doctor:

  1. All of the medicines you take, including herbs and over the counter:  It is amazing to me how many times I review a med list and  even when I prompt "is that all?", I find out much later that the patient left out the birth control pill or the herb for prostate.  Everything is important.   
  2.  Smoking, drinking, drugs:  All doctors know to triple the amount a person says they drink.  If you smoke "on weekends"...admit it.  The same with recreational drugs.
  3.  Can't afford your prescriptions:  Studies show that up to 40% of patients cut their pills or don't fill the Rx. because of cost.  Tell your doctor up front. There are many generic equivalents as well as prescription assistance programs that can help.  We all know that prescriptions are wildly expensive and we want to make sure you can afford it.
  4.  How much you really exercise: We all want to exercise more but saying you exercise "regularly", when it is really a walk to the car, makes it hard to come up with a treatment plan that will really work.
  5.  Have sexual dysfunction: For men, sexual dysfunction can signify diabetes, thyroid disorders or atherosclerosis.  Tell your doctor if you can't get it up or if there has been a change in your sexuality.  For women it is even more complicated so open up that discussion.
  6.  Have a change in your bowel movements: Blood in the stool, a change in your regular habits, pain with movements are all things that should be discussed. Doctors are very comfortable talking about body functions.  We do it at the dinner table so don't be shy.
  7.  Extreme stress:  Worried about money? Having marital problems? Have a teenager? Your mental health is as important as your body functions.  Let your doctor know if you are experiencing stress as it can have major impact on your health.
  8.  See another doctor:  One patient recently told me he had "cheated on me" and seen another doctor closer to his home.  I had to laugh at this because he said it like it was a betrayal, but I was glad he felt open enough to tell me.  Coordinating care is important and knowing that tests or prescriptions have been given by another physician is critical information for us to have.
The private nature of medicine shows why it is so important to have a trusted relationship with a physician.  It is also OK to ask that some information be left out of the medical record (chart).  The medical record is not private.  Every time you apply for insurance (life insurance, health insurance, disability, long-term care) you sign a form that allows access to your medical record so protecting it is important.  Again, this is why an open understanding with your treating physician is so important.  But if you have that relationship...go ahead a be open.  It is a partnership.


Tink1272 said…
I love this. Another reason to tell your doctor if you aren't getting your meds for any reason - esp. the $ - they may have samples on hand. I was able to do this with my insulin when my insurance wouldn't cover the amount I needed and I was unemployed. I felt bad about asking for it when I knew there were others that needed it, but then I realized that I needed help, too. My doc was extremely sympathetic, and now also knows to ask about my stress levels.

Really, be candid with your doctor. They can help so much more than you can ever imagine. And if they don't seem to listen - that may be a sign that you need a new one.
Two points:

(1) Nice post
(2) Gender assumption???
"It is important to have an open relationship with your primary care physician because the more she knows"
Toni Brayer, MD said…
Michael Kirsch: Very funny. The only other way to write it is to say "he" which is a bit of a cliche' since that is how it is written about 100% of the time. I don't think it is proper English to say "they". Any other suggestions?
No, just poking some fun!
tracy said…
Another excellent post, thanks so much, Dr. Brayer.

Sucks to think that if i am
"absolutely" (hee) honest about the amount of wine i drink, he will s t i l l (hey, another accidental joke...!) TRIPLE it. i knew they teach Medical Students to double the numbers, but triple (sec)....??
tracy said…
"Doh". And here i was, thinking "they" was proper english. That's what a Soc degree will get you!
Sunnydalai said…
Wonderful post and very helpful! Best of all, your personality comes through loud and clear:)
Anonymous said…
"All doctors know to triple the amount a person says they drink."

Wow - talk about fostering mistrust between doctor and patient! Now I know why so many doctors assume symptoms that aren't present when I talk to them. They assume too much.

Want to stay healthy? Eat right, exercise moderately every day - and stay away from doctors!
link wheel said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
linkwheel said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
sim so dep said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
so dep said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
sim so dep said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
This is excellent because if we're confident with our Doctors they can determine if we have a rare disease or something dangerous for us.
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
sim so dep said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sim số đẹp said…
I feel is basically important. I dont know if you happen to didnt suppose that your phrases could maintain everyones attention, however you had been wrong. Anyway, in my language, there aren't a lot good source like this.
Sim 10 so said…
I have been trying to Gain entry to this website for a while. I was using IE then once I tried Firefox, it worked just effective? Simply needed to convey this to your attention. This is actually good blog. I have a bunch myself. I really admire your design. I know that is off matter however,did you make this design your self,or purchase from somewhere? Anyway, in my language, there usually are not much good supply like this.
Wonderful learn, I simply passed this onto a colleague who was doing some research on that. And he really bought me lunch because I found it for him smile So let me rephrase that: Thanks for lunch! Anyway, in my language, there are not much good supply like this.
I've been making an attempt to Gain entry to this web site for a while. I used to be utilizing IE then once I tried bp claims, it labored just effective? Just wanted to bring this to your attention. bp claims is actually good blog. I have a bunch myself. I actually admire your bp claims. I know that is off matter however,did you make this bp claims yourself,or buy from bp claims? Anyway, in my bp claims, there are not much good supply like this bp claims.

Popular posts from this blog

scintillating scotoma

image from myaspiebrain Nothing like experiencing a medical condition first-hand to really help a doctor understand it from the patient's point of view.  After all these years, I had my first (and hopefully last) scintillating scotoma while sitting on the couch playing "words with friends" on my ipad and watching TV.  A scotoma is a partial loss of vision in a normal visual field.  Scintillate is flashing, sparkles.  Put them together and you have moving, flashing sparkles with a blind spot in your eyes. This visual aura was first described in the 19th century  by a Dr. Hubert Airy who had migraine headaches.  The visual sparks and flashes are in a zig-zag pattern and they can precede a migraine headache or occur without any pain.   The scotoma affects both eyes and closing one or the other does not make it go away.  Sometimes the term "ocular migraine" or "retinal migraine"  are used to describe this phenomenon but these involve only one eye, not

Do Doctors Make Too Much Money?

An article in the New York Times says the reason health care costs are so high in the United States is because doctors are paid too much. I saw that and my eyes bugged out. I just came home from a meeting with physicians and hospital administrators and the entire meeting was spent discussing the financial challenges physicians face in keeping their doors open to see patients. The goal of this meeting was to keep health services in that community so patients will have someone to care for them. Not a person in the room would agree that the doctors earn too much. Physicians paid too much? Lets break that down. A doctor spends a minimum of 11 years in education and training after the age of 18. Many are in training for 15 or more years. They are living on student loans and contributing zero to their family's income until the residency years. At that time they earn less than minimum wage if you factor in the 80-100 hour workweek. When a doctor emerges from training (and believe

Spots on the Scrotum

The answer to yesterday's Image Challenge was #2 - Fordyce's angiokeratomas. Like many unusual medical names, the condition was first described by John Addison Fordyce in 1896. These tiny blood vessels (capillaries) are under the superficial dermis and can be found on both men and women in the scrotum and vulva area.  They are painless and appear in the 2nd and third decade and may continue to appear as the person ages. Fordyce's angiokeratomas should not be confused with warts, herpes or other conditions.  They are completely benign and require no treatment. There are a number of chat rooms on-line where men are concerned about these lesions and want them removed by laser.  That can be an expensive and time consuming treatment and there is no guarantee that they will not recur.   The best treatment is awareness and acceptance that every body is varied and Fordyce angiokeratoma is just another appearance. Thanks everyone for your guesses and great diagnostic a