For a relationship to be healthy, both partners must communicate while working towards a common goal. Quality care depends on forming a healthy partnership with your doctor and sharing in every decision made. This helps both of you to understand your concerns and health issues, and to agree with the plan made.
To get the most out of every visit with your doctor, you may have to prepare more than you did in the past.
Keeping you healthy is the primary goal of health care. You are expected to do all that you can to stay healthy. If you become sick, you are expected to work hard to become healthy again.
You may visit your doctor for a number of reasons. Perhaps you suddenly become ill. You may just go in for a periodic assessment of your health, or visit regularly so your doctor can monitor a chronic disease. Each type of visit requires slightly different preparation.
Your doctor tries to deal with your concerns while managing many others who also need time and attention. Unless you have booked for a special purpose, you will only have the 15 to 20 minutes that an average visit lasts. Any effort you make to organize the time spent with your doctor will help you both get the most out of the visit.
As well, in a clinic setting urgent concerns often come up with other patients. This may mean that your doctor may run late or your visit may be shortened.
When illness strikes, pay attention to the details. What is the symptom, and when did it start? What makes it better or worse? Have you already tried to fix the problem? Did it work?
Try to remember whether you have had similar symptoms before, and how you dealt with them.
Periodic health assessment
Managing chronic disease
Using a checklist like the ones in the sidebar may help you to give your doctor all of the necessary information.
Getting ready for a visit that monitors a known disease requires slightly different preparation. Both you and your doctor already know about the problems. These visits tend to repeat the same pattern, as similar issues around control of your disease are dealt with each time.
Here, it is essential that you be aware of symptoms to watch for with your particular condition. Bring all the self-monitoring information that you have collected. With a disease, such as diabetes, this is quite extensive, requiring such records as self-measured blood glucose, weight, and insulin use. With something like as hypertension, all that you need are the periodic blood pressure measurements you have done. Still other conditions, such as thyroid conditions, require you to bring in only a list of any current symptoms.
Many people try to manage a chronic disease with self help treatments. Taking vitamins and other supplements is one method. Other strategies exist. Your doctor must be aware of all therapies you are currently using. Even natural substances can react with medical conditions and affect the way you respond to other therapies.
The checklist for managing chronic disease at right can help you pull together the details you need.
Periodic health assessments or check ups usually assess your general state of health and intervene to prevent disease or detect it early enough to treat it.
Your doctor will want to discuss your general health. Expect to talk about eating habits, how often you drink alcohol, how much you exercise, and any habits that may affect your health. A different type of checklist can help with this visit (see right).
Once you and your doctor have discussed the problem, your doctor may examine you. Finally, the time comes to make decisions. Be sure you understand the plan for your treatment. It must be one that will work for you and your disease.
There is usually more than one choice in how to treat any health problem. Your doctor has special knowledge about your condition. You know your particular value system and what you are prepared to do. You will be presented with choices, and should understand the risks and benefits of each choice. You should both agree on the next steps to take.
After a visit with your doctor you should:
All of these steps help to ensure the success of your visit. Each visit will build your relationship and support the common goal of your health and wellness.
Heart attacks and anxiety attacks can feel and look the same. The symptoms of other problems, such as acid reflux, can also be similar. It is often not easy to tell if the symptoms are due to a heart attack, a panic attack or some other problem.
Call 911 or see your family doctor or other emergency service if you experience:
You need to be checked to see if what you are experiencing is due to a heart attack, anxiety or something else.