Changes You Should Always Report To Your Doctor
Since most of us only see our primary physician once a year, by the time we are in our doctor’s office, we can forget about some of the odd symptoms we’ve been experiencing. If you’re like me, you probably just take stock of how you’re feeling that day when your doctor asks, “How are you feeling?” and you answer based on that. I also fear being a drama queen or a hypochondriac, so I have a bad habit of editing what I tell my doctor, because I tell myself, “It’s not that big of a deal—your doctor will probably wonder why you’re even reporting this.” But your doctor never wonders why you’re telling her something. It’s her job to know as much about you as possible, so she can keep you as healthy as possible. It’s better to give your doctor information she doesn’t need than accidentally withhold information that could have made a huge difference in the way you feel. Here are changes you should always tell your doctor.
A drastic change in diet
Have you become a vegan? Cut out red meat? Stopped eating gluten? Started cutting calories drastically? Your doctor needs to know if you’re made any major dietary changes, because these can help her understand some other symptoms you’re experiencing. They can also prompt her to tell you which supplements you should be taking, if you are going to follow a restricted diet.
A change in moods
All too often, people think they just need to live with depression or anxiety—that it’s a part of the human condition. And, certainly, occasional situational based depression and anxiety are a part of being alive. But, if you’re experiencing frequent depression and anxiety, and cannot pinpoint the source, and feel that you’re losing control over your emotions, tell your doctor. She can refer you to the right specialist.
Here’s another troubling myth many people believe: that it’s normal not to sleep well. Not so! Not only is it not normal, but it’s also dangerous—you need sufficient sleep to make many systems in your body work properly. If you’re been tossing and turning, tell your doctor. She will probably run some blood work, or ask you questions about your lifestyle, that will help get to the root of the issue.
A new sexual partner
Do you have a new sexual partner? Did you and your serious partner break up? Have you started sleeping with a different gender from the one you were sleeping with before? This may seem like none of your doctor’s business, but it helps her get a look at the big picture regarding all sorts of other symptoms (sleep issues, anxiety) and it helps her know if she needs to be aware of certain risks like STDs or pregnancy.
Trouble in the bedroom
If you or your partner have been having issues with low libido, erectile dysfunction, pain during sex, or anything that has been putting a damper on your sex life, tell your doctor. She can help you identify if the issue is physical or mental/emotional, and refer you to the right specialist.
New sources of stress
Are you having financial troubles? Marital problems? Difficulty raising your teenagers? Your physician obviously can’t provide financial advice or act as a marriage counselor, but it is important for her to be aware of factors that could be causing you stress, since stress affects your health.
If you are always exhausted, even though you sleep plenty, this is something you should report to your doctor. Constant fatigue can be a sign of a thyroid problem, a vitamin deficiency, or even more serious conditions.
Shortness of breath
If you’ve been finding yourself having shortness of breath on a regular basis—whether it’s during exercise, in the middle of the night, or just doing regular tasks—tell your doctor. She’ll need to examine your lungs.
An increase in alcohol
If you didn’t used to be a drinker but have started drinking, or you’ve just begun drinking more than usual, you do need to report this to your doctor. This could affect the results of your blood work, or other symptoms you report.
An increase in smoking
If you’ve taken up smoking, or are smoking more than usual, this is another habit you’ll need to report to your doctor. She needs to know if she should be on the lookout for smoking-related issues, and she’ll probably want to give you a talk about not smoking.
Experiencing nausea, or even vomiting, on a regular basis is something you should report to your doctor immediately. A number of conditions could be the cause of this (even including pregnancy!) and all of them are something your doctor will need to be aware of.
If you’ve added supplements to your diet—even something as simple as vitamin D—be sure to report this to your doctor. Your physician should be aware of all vitamins and supplements you take, as some can interfere with certain medications.
While nobody likes to talk about their bathroom habits, your bowel movements actually give your doctor quite a bit of insight into your health. If you’ve been dealing with regular constipation or diarrhea, or have been straining to go, you need to tell your doctor.
A discovery in your family medical history
If there has been a major change in the health of one of your immediate family members, mention this to your doctor. She will know if you’re at risk of the same condition, and will make a note to keep an eye on that in your checkups.
A change in your menstrual cycle
Any change in your menstrual cycle should be reported to your doctor, from longer and heavier periods to periods that go missing entirely. Your menstrual cycle is another thing that tells your doctor a lot about your body.