Communication is the cornerstone of any successful relationship—and the same goes for your relationship with your doctor. Talking to your doctor openly and honestly, after all, is the key to feeling comfortable, confident, and clear headed as you take control of your wellness journey. Today, we’re breaking down everything you need to know about talking to your doctor and advocating for yourself every step of the way. Read on for our top tips!
1. Be open when you’re talking to your doctor.
Doctors have seen it all. Whether it’s an embarrassing ailment you’re dealing with or a question you’d rather not ask—don’t let fear control the way you communicate with your doctor. At best, withholding information can disrupt the level of care you’re provided or cause you to live for far too long with discomfort that can be easily treated. At worst, it can lead to surgical complications or misprescribed medicine. Trust us when we say there isn’t a scenario your doctor hasn’t encountered—or a question she or he hasn’t before heard.
When it comes to talking to your doctor, remember that everything you say is private and confidential information. It won’t leave the four walls of your doctor’s office. While telling a friend something embarrassing or confidential can be scary for fear it may “get out”—no doctor will share your private information. Rashes, bumps, bad breath, night sweats, infections, itches, depression, mental illness—both medical school and real-life practice have prepared your doctor for everything (and then some). What may feel embarrassing to you is simply commonplace in a doctor’s eyes. They deal with thousands of cases every year—and they certainly won’t be fazed by whatever it is that’s bothering you (we promise!).
2. Answer lifestyle questions honestly.
Tempted to fib about how many drinks you have each week or whether you use cannabis? Don’t. The more the doctor knows about your diet and lifestyle, the better your medical care will be. Being dishonest when talking to your doctor about whether you use tobacco or how often you exercise can disrupt the success of a surgery, lead to an unexpected reaction to medication, or prolong a recovery period. Also, keep this in mind: your doctor is asking about your smoking, drinking, diet, lifestyle, and exercise habits out of necessity—not out of a desire to judge or shun. Allowing them a full and open understanding of your lifestyle will ensure they can provide you the best possible care and outcome.
PRO TIP: All allergies matter! Patients often neglect to disclose allergies they don’t deem relevant to a certain appointment or procedure. But it’s always best to share every allergy you have when talking to your doctor—dogs, peanuts, sulfa drugs….everything—and allow them to decide whether the allergy is relevant.
3. Make a list of questions before talking to your doctor.
You may go into your doctor’s appointment with a head full of questions, but nerves can get the best of you when you’re talking to your doctor. Couple any anxiousness you’re feeling with the fact that physicians often seem to be in a rush—and, before you know it, your appointment can be over and you’ve forgotten to ask key questions you had in mind. We always recommend making a comprehensive list of top-of-mind health questions before your appointment. And don’t rely on your memory to document the answers—bring a pen and paper or use your phone to take notes as your doctor answers each question.
PRO TIP: Getting ready to head into surgery? Check out our top tips for what to ask before surgery.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for further clarity when you’re talking to your doctor.
With medical jargon and confusing pre-op protocols, it’s perfectly normal to be unsure about something your doctor said. If you find yourself scratching your head as they’re explaining something, ask them to repeat themselves or explain in more detail. You’re not sitting for the SATs—a doctor’s appointment shouldn’t feel like a test you have to fudge your way through. As a patient, you have every right to ask for further explanation about anything you don’t quite understand. You can also always call the office after you’ve left to gain further clarification as well.
5. Know that nurses are a great resource, too.
Nurses are often the unsung heroes of the medical world. Physicians are typically in a rush and juggling tons of patients each day—while nurses are often the ones who have time to break things down and spend more one-on-one time with patients. Get to know the nurses in your doctor’s office. They can typically answer questions and provide clarity when getting in front of a physician or talking to your doctor is difficult.
6. Use your patient portal.
In today’s digital world, most medical practices will have some sort of an online patient portal or app. Definitely create an account and take advantage of all that it offers! From medical records and bloodwork results to upcoming appointments and treatment plans—you can often access your personal medical information in a more timely manner via your patient portal versus waiting for a call back from your doctor. Many patient portals also include messaging options. Thinking back to our first tip in today’s post, if you’re embarrassed about asking something in person when talking to your doctor—you can always use your portal’s messaging feature to ask online.
7. Get all of the information you need to make informed decisions.
Remember—doctors are absolutely the experts, but you are still allowed to (and should!) advocate for yourself when talking to your doctor. From getting a second opinion before opting to undergo surgery—to asking about replacing the old-school from-midnight fast with an approved presurgery drink instead, explore options openly with your doctor. Don’t be afraid to ask about alternative treatments, holistic wellness options, or using clinical nutrition in place of more severe interventions. As long as you’re respectful and curious—rather than undermining—any seasoned doctor will be more than happy to help you explore all of the options available to you before encouraging you to make a decision.
Overall, being open and honest when talking to your doctor is so important for the best possible outcome—whether you’re battling an ailment, preparing for surgery, or simply attempting to get as healthy as possible!
Ready for more goodness? Browse the rest of the CF Nutrition blog for empowering health, wellness, and lifestyle tips. And don’t forget to fuel yourself and your family along your health journey with the clean, clinical replenishment of CF(Rehyrdate)® and CF(Rehydrate)® Immunity +—our fan-favorite electrolyte drinks.