We fall ill every now and then but after the doctor’s visit, do you end up just with the medication or with a further understanding of the illness and medication prescribed? We tend to shy from asking doctors questions about our illnesses, lab tests and medication. We act like we are bothering/inconveniencing them. Well, stop that. You need to understand what is ailing you in detail and why. Basic questions to better understand us. Don’t even shy away, carry a notebook if you must and get answers.
When you see your health care professional (and don’t forget to include your pharmacist and dentist in that group) ask these four questions:
- What is my main problem?
- What do I need to do?
- Why is it important for me to do this?
- What are the lab-tests testing for?
After getting the lab-tests results, always ask what the results mean in detail
When a medicine is prescribed or recommended, find out what you need to know and do in order to use your medicine safely. Always ask:
- What is the name of the medicine and what is it for?
- How and when do I take it-and for how long?
- What foods, drinks, other medicines, dietary supplements, or activities should I avoid while taking this medicine?
- Are there any side effects, what are they, and what do I do if they occur?
- Will this medicine work safely with the other prescription and nonprescription medicines (including herbal and dietary supplements) I am taking?
If you still don’t understand your condition or the suggested treatment after you’ve asked these questions, say, “I appreciate all you’ve told me. But I’m still not clear about . . . . Is there another way you could explain it to me?”
There are other things you can do, too. For instance, bring a friend or family member to your medical appointment. Make a list of questions and concerns to ask your doctor or nurse before your visit. Turn to your pharmacist for help when you have questions about your medications.
Of course, if you’ve done everything here and you still can’t understand the health information your health care professional is giving you, maybe it’s time to find a new one.