Being Well

6 Questions to Ask Your Doctor at Your Next Checkup

At your annual visit, consider these important questions to ask your doctor. They will help you get the most of your visit while allowing you to take control of your health.

An annual checkup is a golden time to inquiry about anything currently on your mind that concerns your health. Come up with a list of questions to ask your doctor before you go as it’s easy to forget some of them during the examination. Ideally, your physician will address many of these concerns before you even ask. But, given that they’re seeing many patients a day and your health and background are different than the next patient’s, it’s best to come prepared.

Here are six questions to ask your doctor during your checkup.

Are There Any Tests or Screenings I Need?

Given your age, gender, or family history, these recommendations will vary. Doctors might suggest a mammogram or Pap smear for women. For men, the recommendation might be a physical prostate exam or PSA (blood) screening for prostate cancer. The American Cancer Society says to get a colonoscopy screening at age 50 unless there’s reason to get one earlier. A bone density scan might also be performed to look for osteoporosis.

Are There Vitamins or Supplements You Recommend?

Given results from a blood test or other screenings, your doctor might suggest supplementing your diet with vitamin D, iron pills, or even a multivitamin. Adding calcium supplements is sometimes recommended, especially for women. The type of supplement, vitamin, and dose are good questions to ask your doctor.

Should I Be Taking This Medication?

Ask your doctor to review the medications you’re taking, including herbal supplements and over-the-counter medications. Your doctor should ensure they’re still recommended for you. Since your last visit, research findings might have changed, affecting your medication or dosage. Your prescription medications might now be available in generic form, which could save you money. Your doctor can confirm that your medications aren’t interacting with each other or with food you eat.

What Can I Do to Lower Your Risks of Disease?

Given your family history and personal health history, your doctor can tell you what to do to lower your risk of diseases, like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. That might involve lifestyle choices, such as exercising more and eating less processed foods. It might mean losing weight or entering a smoking cessation program. Your doctor will have concrete recommendations

Are There Vaccinations I Need?

It’s no fun to get shots, but it’s less fun if you’re injured and aren’t current on your tetanus immunization. As well, flu season comes around each winter. Ask your doctor if a flu shot is recommended for you. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends shingles vaccines for those age 60 and older. Your doctor may have other suggestions.

What Do Changes in My Health Mean?

If you’ve been experiencing changes like irregular periods, random pains, or inexplicable weight fluctuations, tell your doctor and ask about what these symptoms mean. They could be something your doctor wants to look into further, or maybe it’s just normal body changes as a person ages. This will help ease your worry.

You will have your own questions to individualized to your health and background. But it’s important to come prepared with those questions at your checkup as your doctor can give you undivided attention and specific advice.

A great doctor is one who is invested in your health and specializes in your specific condition.

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Deborah Abrams Kaplan
Deborah Abrams Kaplan