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3 Reasons to Be More Open With Your Doctor About Your Condition

Some health concerns are embarrassing and uncomfortable to talk about. At other times, you may hesitate to share a concern with your doctor for fear of being a burden or seeming needy. The truth is, your doctor is committed to helping you improve your health, but needs accurate information to do so. The more honest you are in discussing your condition, the more likely it is that your doctor will be able to provide the care you seek. Here are three good reasons to be open and honest with your physician. Some of them may surprise you.

Honesty Goes Both Ways

If you expect your doctor to tell it to you straight, then you should extend the same courtesy to him or her. Doctors are normal people, affected by the quality of their relationships with particular patients and the way their patients treat them. If you are honest with your physician, it will be appreciated, considered helpful, and interpreted as a sign that you want to get well. If you lie, even a little bit, your doctor may begin to question your motivations. If you want your doctor to take what you say at face value when it really matters, then be honest all of the time, even if the topic is embarrassing or you feel a little silly. Your doctor will respect your honesty and will return that respect by being honest with you.

Medication Mistakes

Your doctor may not approve of the way you take your medications (or don’t take them) and he or she may find your use of supplements and alternative therapies unhelpful, but you should never lie about the medications or supplements you take (or don’t take). There are loads of reasons to be honest about medications, but here is a short list of some of the most important.

.   You could be prescribed a medication that interacts with something else that your doctor didn’t know you were taking. Adverse drug events affect about 1 in 10 patients and kill roughly 1 in 20 every year.

.   Your doctor could ratchet up treatment or attempt something more extreme, thus increasing your risk of side effect or injury, simply because he or she wasn’t aware that you were taking your pills improperly.

.   If you do start to take your prescribed dose and your doctor doesn’t know it, then you could suffer very serious effects that he or she won’t be looking for.

.   You could delay treatment of your condition and make it worse as a result.

The list could go on, but the basic premise is always the same. If you aren’t honest about what medications you take or how you take them, you increase your potential for harm. Even if your doctor lectures you about how you take medications, it is still better that he or she know so that mistakes are avoided.

Faster Recovery

If you have a medical problem, you need to tell your doctor about it. Despite the availability of sophisticated tests and advanced imaging modalities, a patient’s story is still the most crucial part of any medical encounter. You may not believe this, but your doctor will determine how extensive of an exam is required, what tests to order, and what organs/body parts to concentrate on simply based on what you tell him or her. That means that the more honest you are in describing how you feel, even if it is uncomfortable to be honest, the faster you will get a correct diagnosis and proper treatment.

Honesty Is the Best Policy

As a final note, be honest with your doctor about your health insurance plan and what you can afford in terms of treatments and medications.. Plans, like those at, may provide different coverage than plans offered elsewhere and there are far too many for doctors to be able to keep track of each plan and all of their murky details. If your doctor knows what your insurance covers and what you can afford, then he or she can work with you to choose lower cost drugs and reduce health care costs while still adequately treating your condition. If you tell your doctor that you need to watch your medical expenses, then he or she can help out by ordering different tests, directing you to helpful services, getting you discounts on medications, etc. Being honest about your health insurance situation is as critical to receiving good care as being honest about your health condition.

The Basic Message

Your doctor is a trained professional and wants to help you. That alone should be enough to prompt you to be honest. If you feel embarrassed, tell your doctor before launching into your concerns so that he or she can focus on making you feel more comfortable while addressing your medical condition. Be honest with your doctor and you’ll be certain to get better medical care.

Billy Henderson is an experienced healthcare professional. He frequently writes about the ins and outs of being a smart patient and navigating through the system.

Conversation between doctor and patient/consumer.

Conversation between doctor and patient/consumer. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

About the Author Leonardo Dawson

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