September 27, 2012
7 Questions to Ask Your Doctor
During your next visit, don’t forget to ask these important Qs
Admit it: You probably don’t see your doctor as frequently as you should. When you do drop in for a check-up or a physical, you probably want to get that visit over with as soon as possible. It’s a common guy thing: More than twice as many men as women have not seen a physician in the last two to five years, notes Will Courtenay, Ph.D., a specialist in doctor/patient communication at Harvard Medical School and the author of Dying to Be Men (Routledge, 2011).
So the next time you do see your doctor (are you due for a visit?), use your visit wisely by asking the right questions.
Sure, you know the obvious things to ask, like “So, how am I doing?” (see the sidebar, “Four No-Brainer Questions”, below). But other important questions are less obvious. During your precious face-time with your MD, be sure to work in these seven queries.
Four No-Brainer Questions
- How is my health overall?
- Are you concerned about any aspects of my health? Which ones and why?
- Are there any tests I need based on my age or for other reasons?
- Do you have any advice about lifestyle modifications I should make (such as exercising, quitting smoking, changing my diet, etc.)? What specific changes should I make?
1. “Have you noticed my blood pressure going up?”
If your B.P. is 300/90 mm/Hg, your doctor will (or should) say something. But if you’re still technically in the “normal” zone (below 139/89 mm/Hg), he may not think to check your history. If your B.P. has been steadily rising over the years, you may be headed for hypertension — a key risk factor for heart attack, stroke, and even dementia, says Joseph Raffaele, M.D., an age management medicine specialist at PhysioAge Medical Group in New York City. “As soon as I see any rise in blood pressure, I press the patient hard to get into a regular exercise program and drop some weight,” says Raffaele.
2. “How do my lungs sound?”
Unless you’re there for a chest cold, your doctor might not listen to your lungs with a stethoscope. But lung cancer — even among nonsmokers — is the number one cause of cancer death in men, and wheezing is one early symptom. It’s important for your doc to keep an eye (and an ear) on your lung health, and it’s especially critical if you’ve been a smoker. So make sure you’re upfront about your smoking history during your visit.