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It’s easy and common to take the word of a doctor as the whole truth. However, doctors are just as imperfect as everyone else. Even if you’ve known your physician a long time, asking questions is important to ensure that your care is still within both your control and your understanding.
How Will This Diagnosis Affect My Life Longterm?
If you’ve been newly diagnosed with a disorder or illness, don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s your doctor’s job to educate you in regards to how you got into your state of bad health and what you can do to recover from it. Ask how this malady commonly begins, and about treatments for it. Whether you’re facing down cancer or fighting pneumonia, it’s important to understand what’s wrong with you, even if that means extra work of explanation from your doctor. Depending on the severity of the issue, questions about life expectancy, recovery rate, and cost of treatment may all be appropriate.
What Will This Test Show, and What Does it Mean?
Blood tests, X-rays, and scopes can all be intimidating; so scary, in fact, that we don’t want to think about them, let alone ask questions. Still, confirm with your doctor if there is anything you need to do to prepare for the test, like fast or take medicine a few hours before you come to the office. Make sure you know what to expect during the test, including how long it will take. Also confirm what the test will prove about your health, when you can expect results, and what your physician intends to do with those results.
What Will My Lifestyle Be Like With a Specific Treatment?
Many times with a diagnosis like cancer or diabetes, the treatments come one-size-fits-most. But don’t just blindly agree to whatever your doctor says is the best option. Seek a second or even third opinion in severe cases. Each person experiences symptoms differently and may benefit from different medications or alternative therapies. Often, there are many options available. Regardless of what you eventually choose, ask how you will know if the treatment is working and when you can expect to see results.
If surgery is your option, a new realm of uncertainty opens. Gain a clear understanding of the surgery itself, the preparations required of you, and your recovery time before agreeing to the procedure. Some surgeries can mean extensive self-care during recovery, so be sure you know those expectations before you go home from the hospital.
What Does This Medication Do, Why Am I Taking It, and How Much Does It Cost?
When your doctor prescribes you a new medication, make sure you understand exactly what it’s called and why it’s being given to you. Are you starting at the lowest dosage, or a higher amount? What side effects can you expect? Will it interact with any of your other medications? Usually your healthcare provider will let you know if you should avoid activities like driving or operating machinery while on the medicine, but be sure to ask if they don’t mention it. You could also confirm if taking the medicine at a certain time or with certain foods will make it more effective.
How Much Do These Procedures Cost, and How Much Do I Have to Pay?
Often, anxiety over an illness can cause a patient to agree to procedures without understanding the costs involved. While your doctor may not be an expert on this either, someone on the staff at their office is. Ask to speak to someone about your insurance and what costs you will be expected to assume. Understanding this before you get too far into the treatment process is critical, as it can save a lot of stress later on.
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