HEALTH

Make the most of your doctor's visit

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Visits to the doctor can be very productive with a little preparatory work in advance of the appointment, say experts.

“For some people, visits to the doctor can be daunting or even scary, but there are steps you can take beforehand that will improve the experience, foster communication, and, in turn, improve health outcomes,” says Barbara L. McAneny, M.D., president of the American Medical Association (AMA). “By being open and honest with your physician and by asking questions, you can play a key role in preventing the progression of chronic disease and in charting a healthier course.”

Here are six ways to get more from your next doctor’s visit:

1. Know your history. A family health history can help your physician and other health care practitioners identify whether you’re at a higher risk for particular conditions and diseases.

2. Be honest. Your doctor will likely ask you about such health habits as alcohol, tobacco, and drug use as well as the amount of exercise you get. It is important to be honest and accurate when answering these questions. Ask your doctor if you use tobacco, drugs or alcohol, and need help quitting.

3. Make a list. Even if you are just going in for a regular check-up, make a list of the things you want to discuss during your visit and bring it to your appointment. Topics may include symptoms you’ve experienced, ailments you’ve suffered and more.

4. Get screened. Ask your physician about needed health screenings based on your age, sex and other risk factors including family history. Healthfinder.gov is a good resource for finding recommended preventive services.

5. Get immunized. Please discuss with your physician the importance of vaccination. Many immunizations require boosters after time has passed. Make sure you are up-to-date on your immunizations.

6. Know your numbers. Track health data such as your height, weight, body mass index and blood pressure in order to share trends with your doctor and take action if needed.

By being prepared with the right questions and information, you can make the most of your next doctor’s visit.

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