Don’t Be Bashful: Five things you should discuss with your doctor
Consider your doctor’s office a no-secrets zone, where you put aside embarrassment or discomfort for the sake of your health. Why? Because not being open with your doctor may prevent you from getting the care you need.
“It is important that patients feel comfortable being open and honest with their doctors, ” says Mona Mehrotra, MD, an internal medicine specialist and pediatrician at Rush University Medical Center.
Here are five potentially sensitive issues that Mehrotra says are important to discuss.
- Depression. Don’t be ashamed or afraid to talk to your doctor about depression. It’s a real illness that requires treatment. Depression can worsen other health problems, interfere with your ability to comply with your doctor’s instructions, and increase the risk of harming yourself or others.
- Inability to afford medications. Your doctor won’t have a clear picture of how your treatment is working if you’re not taking your prescribed medications. And taking medication inconsistently could endanger your health.
Your doctor may be able to substitute a less expensive drug or refer you to a medication assistance program.
- Memory loss. Older adults may associate it with aging or Alzheimer’s disease, but memory loss isn’t normal. Many causes can be treated.
Even Alzheimer’s disease, though incurable, can be treated with medication that offers some benefit - especially early on.
- Smoking. You know smoking can cause lung cancer, but it also contributes to other health problems. Knowing you smoke may change the way your doctor investigates certain symptoms.
Your doctor can also provide advice and suggest tools to help you quit.
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). A genital rash or discharge can signal an STD. Having an STD may put you at risk for other STDs, such as HIV, as well as hepatitis, infertility and cervical cancer. For your protection, your doctor will likely order screening tests.
Remember, a little heart-to-heart with your physician is a big step toward better health. For more things you should discuss with your doctor, read “Topics of Tension.”