Don't Keep Secrets From Your Doctor: These Things That Seem Minor Or Embarrassing Always Need To Be Shared
Many people are embarrassed about opening up to their family doctors — whether it's a sensitive issue such as drug addiction or a complaint that seems minor, your doctor needs to know every complaint or lifestyle factor that affects your health in order to provide effective medical care. Here are some particularly important things to tell your doctor that patients often hide.
Your Tobacco, Alcohol, and Recreational Drug Use
You should never hide tobacco use, heavy drinking or recreational drug use from your doctor. Your doctor is not going to report you to the police or make moral judgments about you — he or she is there to help you stay healthy and well. Discussing these issues with your doctor is important for your long-term health. If you have issues with addiction, your doctor may avoid prescribing certain medications that are potentially addictive. While this may seem unfair, this important in order to keep you safe. He or she may also suggest treatment options to help you stop smoking or drinking in excess.
Unexplained Changes In Your Bathroom Habits
While changes in how frequently you go to the bathroom may seem like a minor concern and can be embarrassing to bring up to the doctor, it can be a sign of serious problems. Frequent urination or trouble urinating can be a sign of diabetes, prostate cancer or a urinary tract infection — all will require prompt treatment from your doctor. Likewise, both frequent constipation and frequent diarrhea can be a sign of colon cancer. Any unusual changes in your bathroom habits need to be discussed with your doctor in order for him or her to provide the best care for you, even if you feel uncomfortable talking about the subject.
Your Usage of Over-the-Counter Medication and Herbal Supplements
Just because you can purchase these products from a health food store or retail pharmacy without a prescription doesn't mean that over-the-counter medications and herbal supplements are without risk. Tell your doctor if you regularly take over-the-counter medications, especially if you're regularly using laxatives or sleep aids — your doctor may suggest a prescription medication that better fits your needs.
You should always tell your doctor about any herbal supplements you take since some herbal supplements carry adverse interactions with prescription medication. Listing all the supplements you take in your medical records will help your doctor and your pharmacist catch any known interactions before they can become dangerous.
Don't be afraid to tell your family medical doctor about issues that seem minor or embarrassing. Be open with your doctor so that he or she knows how to give you the best family medical care possible.