The doctor-patient relationship can be strange, especially since as the patient, you’re left wondering what that raised eyebrow or cryptic “hmmm” actually means. Health magazine asked top docs to spill the beans on how you can get the best possible care, and here to share that information is the magazine’s medical editor and TODAY contributor Dr. Roshini Raj.
1. Don’t think you’ve got every ailment out there. Many people self-diagnose and assume they need a certain medication. This is not always the case. Wait until your doctor examines you and determines whether or not you need a prescription. Medicine is not like buying a new shirt that’s now in style, so it’s important to be careful and certain that you actually need it.
2. Just spill it. Be up front with your doctor, and don’t wait until the very end of an examination to share intimate details about your health, no matter how embarrassing they may be.
3. Forget what you saw on TV. Just because a TV personality and her best friend had CT scans of the heart doesn’t necessarily mean you need one too. Only get the tests you need, whether or not you see it on television.
4. Don’t worry about your hairy legs. Doctors don’t care if you haven’t shaved; it’s not something they are paying attention to.
5. Be honest about how much (or how little) you work out. Being busy is not the same thing as being physically active. With exercise, more is better, but anything is better than nothing so don’t lie about it to your doctor.
6. Don’t think of the spa as a medical facility. Some people seek medical treatments at spas, when they should be done at an actual medical facility. There’s a huge difference in sterility and guidelines, which a lot of patients don’t realize.
7. Get a second opinion, but not from your mom. Patients are more than welcome to get a second opinion, but make sure it’s a legitimate one. Friends or family members with similar symptoms don’t qualify as experts.
8. Don’t shop for skin-care advice at the mall. Don’t splurge on fancy new skin-care regimens at beauty stores. Pay the affordable co-pay to see a doctor.
9. Know the facts. While it’s important to be aware of risks associated with certain medications, it is also important to understand their benefits. In many cases, the benefits far outweigh the risks.
10. Ask yourself: Is this a real emergency? Don’t rush to the ER or call your doctor in the middle of the night unless you have a serious, life-threatening health problem. At the same time, if you are in serious danger, don’t hesitate to call your doctor no matter what time it is.
To learn more about secrets your doctors want you to know, visit the Web site of Health magazine.