Share any symptoms you have
A symptom is evidence of a disease or disorder in the body. Examples of symptoms include pain, fever, a lump or bump, unexplained weight loss or gain, or having a hard time sleeping.
Be clear and concise when describing your symptoms. Your description helps the doctor identify the problem. A physical exam and medical tests provide valuable information, but your symptoms point the doctor in the right direction.
Your doctor will ask when your symptoms started, what time of day they happen, how long they last (seconds? days?), how often they occur, if they seem to be getting worse or better, and if they keep you from going out or doing your usual activities.
Take the time to make some notes about your symptoms before you call or visit the doctor. Worrying about your symptoms is not a sign of weakness. Being honest about what you are experiencing doesn’t mean that you are complaining. The doctor needs to know how you feel.
To provide the best care, your doctor must understand you as a person and know what your life is like. The doctor may ask about where you live, what you eat, how you sleep, what you do each day, what activities you enjoy, what your sex life is like, and if you smoke or drink. Be open and honest with your doctor. It will help him or her to understand your medical conditions fully and recommend the best treatment choices for you.
Your health has a big impact on other parts of your life. Your doctor may ask you how your life is going. This isn’t being impolite or nosy. Information about what’s happening in your life may be useful medically. Let the doctor know about any major changes or stresses in your life, such as a divorce or the death of a loved one. You don’t have to go into detail; you may want to say something like: “It might be helpful for you to know that my sister passed away since my last visit with you,” or “I recently had to sell my home and move in with my daughter.”
The coronavirus pandemic and physical distancing requirements can also bring about feelings of loneliness and social isolation. These feelings are associated with higher risk for depression, anxiety, and heart disease. It is important to let your doctor know when these feelings occur and how often.
You may have some concerns or wishes about your care if you become seriously ill. If you have questions about what choices you have, ask your doctor. You can specify your desires through legal documents called advance directives. In general, the best time to talk with your doctor about these issues is while you are still relatively healthy. Medicare and private health insurance may cover these discussions with your doctor. One way to bring up the subject is to say: “I’m worried about what would happen in the hospital if I were very sick and not likely to get better. Can you tell me what generally happens in that case?