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Just the facts: What your doctor should know

All sorts of things can affect your health, from your grandmother’s high blood pressure to the glass of wine you had with dinner last night. And accordingly, these are things your doctor should know in order to have the best possible understanding of the health risks you face and how to tailor your care.

Personal medical history
If you’ve been going to the same doctor for years, their records will likely reflect your health over the years. But if you’ve switched doctors or don’t have a regular family physician, it’s important that you keep a record of your health to ensure your doctor has an accurate understanding of your health over your lifetime.

If you’ve recently switched doctors, your former doctor’s office can help arrange to transfer your file, which will contain records from your physical exams and other visits, as well as lab results and other tests you may have had over the years. Your own records can also be helpful.

Before your visit, make a list of any major physical or mental conditions you may have had, the date you were diagnosed, and how you were treated. Your doctor should also be aware of any known food or drug allergies and any complications you may have experienced as the result of a medical condition or treatment. Don’t forget to mention if you are being treated by any other health care providers, including for mental health issues. You should also record any medications you may be using, including over-the-counter and herbal products, as well as your vaccination history.

Family medical history
Genetic factors play a role in the development of many conditions,
including Alzheimer’s disease, some types of cancer, depression, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and many more. While having a family member who was diagnosed with a medical condition is no guarantee you will develop it too, it could raise your risk. That’s why a look back at your family’s medical history can be an important glimpse into your own health future.

Knowledge about any diseases or illnesses that may have affected members of your family can help your doctor to identify your own risks and, in turn, recommend lifestyle or medication changes and determine what diagnostic tests you may need.

A record of your family’s medical history should include a list of conditions that affected your immediate family members as well as their cause of death and age at death. Information on your grandparents, parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and first cousins may all be relevant.

Lifestyle factors
Lifestyle factors such as diet, physical activity level, and drinking or smoking habits can all affect your disease risk as well as impact how particular medications affect you. As a result, it’s extremely important that you give your doctor an accurate portrayal of your own habits.

If your lifestyle isn’t always the healthiest, it may be tempting to gloss over the truth. But this is a clear case of honesty being the best policy – especially when it comes to risky behaviours such as smoking, overindulging in alcohol, or having unprotected sex with multiple partners. While your doctor may counsel you against such habits, it’s important for you to remember that they are doing so to help you stay your healthiest, not because they are judging you on how you live your life.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2017. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/How-to-Talk-to-Your-Doctor

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