Are you scheduling a checkup with your health care provider? Do you know what questions you should be asking? Whether you see your doctor once a year during your annual check-up or more often to manage a chronic condition, make the most of your next appointment with a few basic questions:
- Am I up to date on my routine health maintenance? Staying up to date on vaccines and routine screenings, such as colonoscopies, blood pressure readings and blood panels to measure cholesterol and glucose levels, is essential, though many men don’t take advantage of an annual physical to get this information. But staying on top of routine health maintenance appropriate to your age can help you detect disease or risk factors for disease early and get a head start on successful treatment.
- Can I reduce or stop some of my medications? Your primary care physician may not be as happy about prescribing medication as you think, so the next time you visit, bring a full list of all medications you are taking (over the counter and prescription) to re-evaluate their necessity. Even if you still must take a particular medication, you might be able to reduce the dosage. And don’t be shy about asking if there are less expensive alternatives to your current treatment regimen. Just don’t stop taking a prescribed medication without consulting your physician first. It can be dangerous to stop taking some medicines cold turkey.
- How can I improve my lifestyle? Whatever your personal goals, talk strategies with your health-care practitioner. We know diet, exercise and other lifestyle choices can go a long way to preventing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers. But talk to your doctor about your alcohol consumption, smoking, body mass index, erectile dysfunction, sleep, stress and other lifestyle factors, including interpersonal relationship issues that can affect health and happiness.
- What’s the plan? Don’t leave your doctor’s office without a road map for what your need to do, work on, or be aware of, before your next visit. If you receive a diagnosis, know if you’ll be referred to a specialist, how to manage symptoms, what side effects to expect (especially if you’re prescribed a new medication), what’s next in your treatment plan and when to schedule a follow-up visit.