What the doctor needs to know

You are not feeling ok.  You are not sure what you have or what needs to be done, so you decide to see a doctor.

Photo credit: http://phodyr.deviantart.com/art/11th-Doctor-vs-the-Daleks-209807302

The doctor, like an investigator, needs to know some things in order to form an impression.  These are the usual questions we ask:

What are the symptoms?  There is usually a reason why a person sees a doctor.  Whether it’s a headache, tummy ache, pain, weakness, do let us know so we know what to look for.  Describe the symptoms — for example, if your tummy hurts we’d like to know where exactly and how you would describe the pain.

Of course, there is also the possibility that you just want to make sure everything’s working ok even if you do not feel anything untoward.  That’s also ok, just tell us.

When did the symptoms start?  Did the symptoms start just yesterday?  Or did it start months ago?  A headache that occurred just yesterday may signal something different from a headache that’s been around for weeks.  It would also be helpful to note if there were any prior incidents that would have contributed.  For example, a tummy ache that occurred after eating in a certain restaurant or eye pain after welding.  Any accompanying symptoms too.  For example, tummy ache only, or accompanied by vomiting?  These information are relevant.

What was done to address the symptoms?  Were they effective?  For example, when you had the headache, did you take Paracetamol or another analgesic?  Did the headache go away?  Did you see another doctor before coming to see me?  What was  prescribed?  If you know that you are going to have trouble remembering the medications, bring the prescription and or the medications themselves.

Your medical history — any history of surgeries, accidents, chronic health concerns, maintenance medications?

Your family history?  Many health concerns have a genetic predisposition.  For example, you are at higher risk for hypertension if people in your family have this.

Your personal history?  What’s your current occupation?  Do you smoke or drink?  These could tell us what conditions you are more at risk for.  For example, if you work as a welder and you do not wear eye protection, the stinging pain that you may experiencing may be welder’s keratitis.  We certainly would not think of that condition for somebody who has never done welding or stood close to somebody welding in his life.

Oh, and if the doctor asks you about sex — please don’t get offended.  We are not judging here — it’s not our place.  We just want to rule in or rule out problems that may occur with sex, like a sexually transmitted infection, for instance. So, please don’t hide these stuff from us.

Current medications?  This would give us clues as to your condition.  Do be honest and tell us if you have followed the doctor’s instructions to the letter.  We can then gauge if the treatment has been truly effective or not.  Bring your prescription or samples of your meds if you will have trouble remembering their names.  If you are seeing an ophthalmologist, it helps to bring your current spectacles.

Of course, the doctor needs to do physical examination to arrive at a working impression.  If you had given enough information and clues, there’s a better chance that the doctor would know what to look for and consequently arrive at a more accurate diagnosis so that we would be able to help with your current situation.

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