So you’ve scheduled a doctor appointment. That’s a good thing, but if you go ill-prepared, you may not get the most out of your visit.
Some things to do before a doctor’s appointment are easier to remember than others. Some must-haves for every visit: insurance card, medical records, a list of the prescription drugs you are taking. Good preparation can also help to lessen any anxiety you may feel about the appointment. In this two-part series, we’re going to examine the things you should and shouldn’t do before a doctor appointment. Hopefully, this will help you prepare for your next doctor visit. Let’s start by looking at your “to do” list.
Do: List and Prioritize Your Concerns
The best way to remember things is to write them down. This is especially true before your doctor appointment. Make a list of what you want to discuss. These include:
- New symptoms you may be experiencing
- New medications you’re taking
- How treatment is working
If you have more than a few items to discuss, put them in order and ask about the most important ones first. Sometimes it helps to bring a family member or close friend with you. Let your family member or friend know in advance what you want from your visit. They can help remind you of the things you want to discuss with your physician.
Do: Drink Lots of Water Before a Physical
You should always be well-hydrated. In general, it’s a good idea to hydrate before seeing your doctor for a checkup. If you’re well-hydrated at the time of a physical, you’ll help to ensure an accurate pulse and blood pressure reading.
If you are having blood work or urine testing done, being mildly dehydrated can confuse the results. You should be drinking lots of water daily anyway, just make sure you don’t let up before your doctor appointment.
Do: Eat As You Normally Do Before a Checkup
Naturally, you want to show the doctor your best health, but it’s not necessary to change your eating habits before an annual appointment. Your physician will want you to be honest about your lifestyle and your diet. Changing what you eat in the days before your appointment won’t have much effect on things like cholesterol, blood sugar, or weight anyway.
Changes occur over the long term, so it’s best to eat healthy as much as you can — all of the time.
Do: Write Down Questions
No matter what kind of appointment you have, you may be a bit nervous — after all, being examined by a doctor can make us feel vulnerable and even embarrassed. But if you write down the things you want to talk about before you go (or even make a note on your phone), you’re less likely to forget or lose your nerve.
Writing questions down will also help you to keep the objective of your visit clear. You don’t want to forget why you scheduled the doctor appointment in the first place and get off track. It will also help to ensure you don’t forget to ask a question in the short amount of time you may have with your doctor. A 2016 Medscape survey of more than 19,200 doctors in 26 specialties found that doctors most often spend just 13 to 16 minutes with each patient.
And if you’re wondering, yes, it is OK to have sex before a doctor’s appointment. This might be something you’ve always wondered but never had the courage to ask your doctor. Many people think that having sex before a visit to the gynecologist (for a woman) or the urologist (for a man) might be a no-no. But many doctors agree that intercourse the day before is OK. It will not affect a Pap smear or any tests you have on your urine, testicles or prostate.
There are lots of things you can do before a doctor’s appointment that can help relieve anxiety and help to make sure you get all of the information you need from your visit.
You can use the same approach when it comes time to visit your cardiologist. Check out our list of “9 Things To Do Before Visiting Your Cardiologist.” Our free checklist will remind you of what documentation you may need and provide you information on lab test results.