8 Questions patients should ask their doctor (but don’t)

Are you taking an active role each and every time you’re at a doctor’s visit? Do you primarily let the doctor take control of the visit or do you make the most of your time by asking pertinent, relevant, and vital questions enabling you to make the best medical decisions regarding your health?

Doctor visits are your time to ask questions necessary to ensure you thoroughly understand and get the information you’re entitled to within the window of time allowed at a medical visit. By being prepared and ready, you can feel more confident and assured by taking an active role in your overall healthcare.

Here are 8 questions I advise patients to ask their doctor, no matter what the visit is for:

  1. What internet sources can I trust for medical information?

As a doctor and as all doctors know, our patients are going to search “Dr. Google” for advice, often before they see us. Of course, we wish they would only seek our wisdom first, but in today’s technological world, it happens and that’s why patients should ask their doctor, “What trusted medical websites do you recommend?” This not only provides them with more accurate information regarding a certain medical condition but also saves them time and effort in avoiding “medical” websites spewing inaccurate and even harmful advice.

  1. For my medical condition, what other treatment options are available?

Medical decision-making has become more of a shared experience between physicians and patients. In the ‘old days,’ it was the doctor and only them, who dictated what treatment would fix the problem a patient was seeking help for. Today, many diseases/conditions have various treatment options. By including the patient in this decision, we are empowering them to be a part of their healthcare decisions.

  1. Why am I taking this medication and what side effects does it have? How can I reduce or stop taking it?

At each and every visit, make sure your doctor reviews the list of medications you are taking for all medical conditions you may have. Re-evaluating their purpose, necessity, side effects, and the possibility you may no longer need a medication, is a valuable tool in taking charge of your healthcare. Also, ask if there are less expensive alternatives to any current medications you are taking.  One other important question to ask: Can you make lifestyle changes that could reduce or even allow you to stop taking a medication and if so, what do they recommend?

  1. What can I do on my own to improve my current health status?

This question will lead to a discussion of lifestyle changes or more ‘holistic’ treatments shown to help reduce or improve symptoms of a certain condition. Depending on your current physical condition, likely your doctor will discuss increasing exercise, eating a healthier diet, getting adequate sleep, reducing stress, and if you smoke, quit. By following this advice, you may find that small but significant changes can result in a big way of helping you recover from an existing condition.

  1. Is it okay to take supplements? Which ones should I avoid?

This is an important question to ask your physician.  When asked, “What supplements do you currently take,” always be honest.  This includes revealing all dietary supplements of vitamins for prostate health, minerals, amino acids, herbal, glucosamine, probiotics, fish oil, and any other health product you take considered a ‘supplement.’

Some dietary supplements can help you get adequate amounts of essential nutrients if you don’t eat a nutritious variety of foods. However, supplements can’t take the place of health-promoting foods that are important for good health. Many supplements are expensive and unnecessary and are marketed to the public without any evidence-based science. Some supplements, including herbal teas, can also interfere with medications.

  1. Am I up-to-date on my vaccinations and routine health screenings for my age?

Generally, most doctors will bring this up if you are not up-to-date on vaccinations or routine health screenings, but if not, simply ask if you are. These important parts of staying healthy are similar to regular maintenance of rotating the tires or changing the oil of your vehicle to keep it in good running condition.

Depending on your age, there are certain vaccinations advised receiving. The same thing goes for routine health screenings which may include mammograms, pap smears, prostate cancer checks, colonoscopies, as well as blood panels to measure cholesterol and glucose levels.

By keeping up with these health screenings for your age and gender, you are taking full advantage of modern medicine and its ability to detect disease or avoid certain illnesses altogether.

  1. Why do I need this test and when will I know the results?

Whenever a doctor wants to have you do additional testing for a condition, it can be somewhat of a scary thought. And the first question that should automatically come to mind is, “Why do I need this test?” Whether it’s an MRI, CAT scan, blood work, X-rays, or biopsy, having a complete understanding of why it’s needed can be reassuring for why the doctor ordered it. Also, knowing when to expect the results of a test, can relive anxiety of waiting around.  If the time of when you should have learned the results comes and goes, do call your doctor’s office and speak to their nurse to know why there is a delay.

  1. What can I be doing to get and stay healthy or healthier?

This is the question everyone should be asking their physician.  Often, doctors may not always take the time to thoroughly address this very important question but it’s vital to your overall well-being.

We know that eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, reaching and maintaining healthy body weight, not smoking or using illegal drugs, and adequate sleep are mainstays can go a long way towards preventing or at least delaying a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, chronic kidney disease, and even certain cancers.

I strongly feel the more we educate our patients on living a healthy lifestyle and how to go about it, is our way of helping Americans reach their health goals. We need to take the time to refer them to registered dietitians to learn healthy eating habits; physical therapists to learn exercises keeping muscles and joints strong and flexible; or even to mental health counselors to address issues such as anxiety or depression.

Every little bit we do as doctors to educate and motivate our patients is a win-win for all of us and our society.

Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy.  Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncolo gy and prostate cancer 911.

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