Honesty is the best health policy, but some folks are too embarrassed to share personal information with their doctors and that can be a deadly mistake.
“Very often, patients hold back or distort important information that can be life-saving because they’re afraid of being judged,” Dr. Joe Colella, M.D., a Pittsburgh-based physician tells Newsmax.
Here are eight examples of information you should always share with your doctor:
- You’re taking supplements. Your doctor needs to know all your medication, including vitamins and other supplements such as herbs, to make sure that there is no dangerous interaction between them. Gingko, for example, can cause heart palpitations and can dangerously interact with blood pressure medications.
- There’s blood in your stool or urine. People don’t like to talk about bodily functions, but the presence of blood can signal more serious illness, says Colella. Blood in the stool is a symptom of colorectal cancer that is curable if caught early.
- You saw something on the internet that worries you. “I’m a huge fan of having well-informed patients,” says Colella. “It means that they are paying attention to their health. Just remember that medical information gathered from the web is general and may not relate to your case.”
- You have poor diet and exercise habits. Colella says that most people exaggerate about how much they exercise and downplay their excess eating. “You shouldn’t be embarrassed to talk to your doctor about your diet because he or she can help or refer you to a nutritionist,” he says. Poor lifestyle habits are linked to many chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and more.
- You are depressed. There’s no stigma about feeling blue and very often your doctor can help with therapy or short-term medication. Emotions can wreak havoc with your physical health, causing loss or appetite, headaches, or gastrointestinal woes.
- You stopped taking medication. “Instead of telling the doctor, some patients act on their own,” says Colella. “You are risking your life!” This is especially true for blood pressure meds, blood thinners, and anti-depressants.
- You’re not interested in sex lately. It’s important to come clean about your sex life because lack of interest can signal a more serious problem such as vascular disease, an imbalance in blood chemistry, and even anxiety or depression.
- You don’t reveal past medical history. Even surgery that was performed decades ago has significance, says Colella, who revealed that one patient (not his!) lost the wrong kidney when doctors didn’t know he’d previously had a transplant. “I tell my patients to write a complete medical history including all surgeries and their location as well as past illnesses and those which run in their families. If you walk in with a written record, there’s less chance of error and a greater chance of getting the best treatment,” he says.