Doctor's office do's

You may only have a short time with your doctor, but employing the right strategies can help you make the most out of every minute.

Arrive on time. Sure, it may be frustrating if you have to wait (and doctors' offices don't have waiting rooms for nothing), but remember that if your doctor is running behind, it's likely because they are spending more time helping someone else. But if you arrive late for your appointment, it could reduce the amount of face time you get with your doctor, making you feel rushed and cutting down on the time you have to discuss your concerns.

Come prepared. Write down any questions or concerns you have ahead of time, and bring your list with you. If you feel rushed or flustered during your appointment, it could cause you to forget the things you wanted to ask.

Check your shyness at the door. When it comes to discussing sensitive topics, don't be too embarrassed to speak up. Chances are, your doctor has seen the problem before and is there to help you, not to judge.

Ask away. Don't be afraid to ask your doctor about particular treatments you may have read about or heard about from friends, but be prepared to listen to what the doctor has to say – whether good or bad. Doctors appreciate an informed patient, but if you come in and try to diagnose yourself or tell them how to treat your condition, it can be frustrating for both of you. Remember that you came to them for professional advice – so be prepared to listen to their professional opinion. Rather than telling your doctor what you have and how to treat it, ask open-ended questions such as "What can you tell me about this treatment?"

Be specific. When it comes to listing your symptoms, be as specific as possible. Note the duration, frequency, timing, severity, and whether there seem to be any associated triggers or patterns. The clearer idea your doctor has of what is bothering you, the better they may be able to zero in on the problem.

Be honest. Your doctor can only help you if he or she has an accurate understanding of what is going on. So from questions about your symptoms to your lifestyle to other medications you may be using, make sure to answer your doctor's queries as accurately and honestly as you can.

Make sure you understand what your doctor is saying. You should leave your doctor's office with a clear understanding of your condition, your treatment, and any follow-up appointments, tests, or other care you may require. If you aren't sure what your doctor is saying, don't be afraid to ask them to explain it again or to write it down for you. You may also want to bring along a trusted family member or friend to help ensure you leave with a clear understanding.

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