Now that you’re an adult, no lollipop in the world is going to make going to the doctor feel like a treat. Sure, your doctor is great at his or her job and takes the time to listen to what you’ve been experiencing and answer your questions. Even so, you’ve probably got enough concerns and pain points (actual points of pain!) to keep you on the edge of the exam table when your checkup rolls around.
Will there be tests? Uncomfortable exams? Bad news? Are you going to be okay?
Here’s a different way to think about it. One that keeps you thinking and acting healthy during every month of the year.
Make a list
Before you visit, jot down a short list of health issues or questions you remember dealing with during the past year. Nothing is too small or too embarrassing. Do you have trouble peeing? Do you see flashes of light that aren’t really there? Issues like these may seem small, but they can be signs of a more serious health condition. Take note of things that are weird, annoying, or puzzling, and let your doctor decide which ones are worth worrying about.
Bring your diary
Not your day-to-day diary or personal journal, but rather your personal health record. This is particularly useful if you deal with a long-term or chronic health condition, and it’s even easier with a smartphone and tracking app, such as Symple, to help out. Just check with your doctor’s office to see if there is one that they prefer.
What you record may depend on your overall health and conditions. A few things to consider are:
- Test results and readings: temperatures, blood pressure, and glucose levels, along with date and time
- A list of medications including prescriptions, over-the-counter, and herbal remedies
- Notes on diet and exercise
- Reactions to foods and cosmetics
- Family history of health and illness
- Symptoms you experience, as well as time of day
- Questions you may want to ask your doctor
Be honest and open
You should feel free to tell your doctor just about anything—about the state of your body and mind. Your healthcare providers are bound by legal and ethical privacy rules that make your medical information confidential. Beyond that, doctors base their professional reputations on trust and patient respect. They do their best work when they’re completely informed, so don’t hold anything back.
Ask plenty of questions. If there’s anything you don’t understand, your doctor will be happy to explain.
Work on a plan
Don’t make a beeline for the door once the exam is over. Think of your annual checkup as a starting line: a once-a-year meeting to address any health issues that you and your doctor may uncover, and make strides toward improving your ongoing health.
What health issues do you need to work on? What goals should you set? How can you meet them? If you’re not sure, ask your doctor to help you plan.
On the way out, remember to set an appointment for next year’s exam.
Follow these guidelines and you’ll not only feel more focused during your annual checkup, you’ll continue to reap the benefits all year long.