5 Questions to Ask at Every Visit to the Doctor

a picture of scrubs and a stethoscope

Keep yourself well when you know and use these health answers

No one likes going to the doctor. In fact, most of us put off our annual physicals until illness or pain forces us to go. However, regular doctor visits are vital to your overall health.

Talk to Your Doc

You’re the patient, but that doesn’t mean you’re a passive participant in your own healthcare. Ask these five questions at every visit:

  1. What is my blood pressure, and what do the numbers mean? One in three Americans has high blood pressure (hypertension), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The condition can cause cardiovascular disease and stroke. Your doctor will test your blood pressure regularly. Asking these questions lets you take steps to lower it if it’s too high.
  2. Am I the right weight for my height? Take a deep breath and ask the one person who will not judge you. Obesity is a condition that can cause cardiovascular disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease, gout, hypertension and cancer. Don’t rely on your favorite pants to tell the tale. Get the facts.
  3. What is my cholesterol level? High cholesterol is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Only a blood test can tell you if you’re at risk.
  4. Are there any tests I should have based on my age or other factors? Often, the doctor may send you for a test such as a mammogram or colonoscopy after a routine visit. It’s usually not the result of a specific condition, but a powerful tool in early detection.
  5. Are you concerned about any specific aspect of my health? Are you a smoker? Do you drink too much? Rarely exercise? These are all lifestyle factors that can affect your overall health—and your doctor might suggest changes that can prevent long-term damage.

Be Prepared

Even before you speak with your doctor, pull together the information he or she needs to create an accurate picture of your health and you’ll be able to have an even better discussion. Include:

  • A list of all the medications and natural supplements you’re currently taking, and the dosages.
  • A description of any aches, pains or other discomfort you’re feeling. Include when and where it occurs and whether you notice anything else that relates to it or seems to cause it.
  • A detailed medical history of your parents, grandparents, siblings and children.
  • A list of current and past surgeries, illnesses and symptoms.