The relationship between you and your doctor is based on honesty and trust. When patients are completely upfront about their medical history and trust their doctor with their disclosures, this medical relationship works best. Doctors are able to more accurately diagnose and treat you to remedy the situation. But if you withhold information your doctors need to know, it makes their job more difficult and ultimately hurts you the most.
Fibbing about how much you may drink or that you stopped taking your diabetes medication or forgot to mention you occasionally smoke every now and then, are all reasons not to be dishonest. Maybe you fear being lectured to or to avoid embarrassment. Unfortunately, covering up the truth can create problems for your health impacting the care you receive.
Here the top 5 things to be completely honest about with your doctor; remember, being truthful will protect your health in the long run:
1. Disclosing all previous surgical history, even minor procedures from a long time ago
Divulging all surgical procedures during your lifetime is important for several reasons. Your doctor needs to know how you responded to each surgery and whether you had any complications such as a bad response to anesthesia, a spike in blood pressure, or an infection. Surgical complications may put you at risk for another complication in the future.
2. Being honest about your sexual history
It may feel scary and uncomfortable to open up about your sex life but it’s crucial your doctor knows about any past or present STDs, partners, history of unprotected sex, and other sexual concerns such as pain, discomfort, or dryness. Your sexual history helps your doctor assess your risk for many diseases such as cervical cancer. Full honesty helps guide your doctor in making informed decisions about your overall health in deciding the best contraceptive options for you as well as other treatments for other concerns.
3. Being truthful about what prescribed medications you take and which ones you don’t
When it comes to medication, honesty is always the best policy. Did you actually finish the entire course of antibiotics, did you stop taking your blood pressure medications because of side effects, or are you reducing the amount of insulin you need to save money?
In any of the above situations, your doctor must be told. They can help problem-solve if a medication is causing side effects or if you are financially unable to afford a life-saving drug.
It’s also important to be completely honest about any vitamin and mineral or herbal supplements or any over-the-counter drugs you use. There can be the potential for bad interactions with prescription medications if your doctor is unaware you are taking them.
4. How much alcohol you drink or if you use recreational drugs
It’s quite common for people to underestimate how much alcohol they drink. In addition, there is a growing drug problem doctors are being kept in the dark about. You may not want to admit to your use of alcohol or recreational drugs but your doctor needs to know to protect your health and wellbeing, especially when prescribing and dosing medications.
When your doctor knows the truth, they can recommend a different medication to reduce harmful side effects. They will also be alerted to the fact you likely should be screened for certain conditions because of your habits. For instance, smoking marijuana and using other drugs is harmful to the lungs and over-consuming alcohol can be damaging to your liver. Because of these habits, keeping an eye on these organs can help your doctor ‘catch’ any abnormal lab findings to assess any changes further.
5. Your dietary and exercise habits
Admitting your eating indiscretions or lack of exercise is valuable information your doctor needs to know. Choosing unhealthy foods and skipping workouts is putting your health at risk and is a predictor for future health problems. Patients, who eat poorly and are sedentary, are at a higher risk for many diseases. These diseases may include heart disease, type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease or chronic kidney disease.
It’s a good idea for you and your doctor to start a conversation around your food choices and activity level. If you are struggling with reaching a healthy body weight, a referral to a registered dietitian for one-on-one counseling can set you on the right track for learning how to eat healthier.
If it’s been a while since you’ve physically active, ask your doctor for advice on easing back into working out safely to improve your health. Work with your doctor to find a workout routine that fits your lifestyle and most importantly, you enjoy.