Essential questions to ask your doctor

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Asking your doctor questions during an appointment is a fantastic way to empower yourself as a patient.

You should never be afraid to speak up if you don’t understand something that your doctor is telling you. Contrary to popular belief, your doctor does actually want you to ask questions – they can help your doctor to better understand where you’re coming from and can encourage them to ask questions of their own that are relevant to your personal healthcare.

Here are the questions you should always ask during a doctor’s appointment.

What is my diagnosis? This question will provide you with a clear answer as to why you’re in the doctor’s surgery in the first place. It’s direct and straight to the point and your doctor should be able to tell you exactly what he or she thinks is causing you health problems. An answer to this question would be “Your diagnosis is the flu” or “I think your diagnosis is coeliac disease, but we need to do a test in order to confirm this.”

What are my treatment options? When you ask this question your doctor will be able to clearly outline how they plan to treat your condition. It’s always best to follow up this question with another one such as: What are the benefits of this option?

Are there any side effects I should know about? If your doctor is prescribing you medication, this is an important question to ask. Your doctor will be able to tell you if there are any specific side effects you should look out for when you start the medicine and, if you experience them, what you should do about them.

How do I take my medicine? It’s always a good idea to ask your doctor for clear instructions on how you should take your medicine. Sometimes your doctor can give you important information such as, ‘Always take this medicine on an empty stomach’ or ‘Avoid taking an iron tonic with this medicine.’

Is there anything else I can do to help this condition? When it comes to treating illness and health conditions, oftentimes the medicine is only the first step and there are certain things we can do ourselves to help us feel better. Your doctor might suggest certain lifestyle changes or encourage you to try something that you might not think of yourself.

Catherine Devane