How Should You Prepare For Your Yearly Doctor Visit?
You can help your doctor make the most out of your annual exam. Don’t forget this is a team effort!
◊Pen & Paper! Anything new going on with you? Having any new symptoms or concerns? It is very helpful when a patient comes prepared with questions and we can address/resolve things right off the bat. Trying to remember what to ask always leads to questions forgotten. Take a week or two prior to your appointment to start jotting down questions or concerns. A lot of information is also exchanged during an annual exam and it is beneficial for the patient to take notes and write things down.
Stumped for questions? Check out this helpful article:
◊Tell them everything. Give a full medical history and don’t leave anything out. If it is a lot, write it down so nothing is forgotten. Knowing your full past and present medical history helps your doctor keep everything on their radar, to see the big picture and see correlations between symptoms and conditions that you may not see that could be key in solving other issues. Chronic medical issues (even if controlled by medications such as cholesterol or diabetes or high blood pressure), severe acute illnesses, surgeries, mole removals, vaccination history, traumatic events or injuries and allergies should all be brought to your physician's attention.
◊Find out your family medical history if you can. Genetic predisposition to certain illnesses can be a major influence in how your doctor monitors and recommends care. But don’t be nervous! A genetic predisposition to something does not mean you’ll necessarily get the illness. In fact, identifying what you are predisposed to can help you in a number of ways like changing diet & lifestyle that may affect how those genes are expressed to avoid illness, or earlier, more aggressive monitoring to catch things when they are easy to treat. Information about your siblings, parents and grandparents are very helpful. Information about aunts, uncles and first cousins can also be helpful.
◊Make a list of all of your medications and supplements that you are taking, even if they are over-the-counter. Include the name of the medication/supplement, manufacturer and dose if possible. Yes, your primary doctor should already know what medications you are on. BUT there are a number of situations that arise where you end up on a medication or started taking something on your own that your doctor doesn’t know about. With many contraindications between medicines and vitamins and supplements and anything new the doctor may want to prescribe, it is best for everyone to re-group and be on the same page so there are no interactions. In addition, many medications and supplements have side effects. It is possible something you are experiencing could be due to an uncommon side effect and your doctor may be able to help you figure that out. If it is easier, put all your medications and supplements in a bag and bring them with you to the appointment.
◊Confirm if you will be having blood tests at your appointment and if you need to fast. Being prepared for the blood test at your visit can help you avoid another appointment at the lab. Another thing to consider is the time of your appointment. If you have to fast and your appointment isn’t until 5pm, it may be kind of rough not to eat all day. You may want to pick a time that works better for you. Or you may want to ask for a prescription for blood work to be faxed or emailed to you prior to your appointment. This way the doctor will have all the results available at your physical and can order additional tests if needed upon review and examination.
◊Dress comfortably in loose-fitting attire. Easily exposing your arms for a blood pressure check is one example. Most likely you will have a gown or robe to put on and it will make it much easier to get undressed and to put your clothes back on.