There’s no shortage of health information available these days.

Type a few keywords into a search engine like Google, and you will find a near-infinite amount of “expert” information and advice.

However, nothing is better than the information and advice that your personal physician can provide. Sometimes, though, you need to unlock that information.

So, the one thing you can do to be more informed about your health is to ask your doctor questions.

Preparation is Key

The best way to make sure you do this is to keep pen and paper handy at your house. Prepare for your appointment by writing down questions that you or family members may have. It can be tough to remember everything you need to say on the spot, especially considering that many doctors are trying to see you as quickly as possible so they can move on to the next assignment.

Once you are in the office, if the doctor mentions a term you’re not familiar with, stop him and ask what it means. If a test is ordered, ask him why it’s important and what it will show. And when you receive the results, many times they will tell you “it looks normal,” without giving you the actual results. Ask if a copy of the results can be mailed to you, this way you can see your levels and how they compare to acceptable ranges.

Some Questions to Ask About Tests and Medications

  • Why are you doing this test?
  • Do I need to prepare for the test (by fasting, for example)?
  • How long will it take to get the results and how will I be notified?
  • What are the next steps after the test?
  • Are there any side effects or potential interactions with my current medications?
  • Do you have brochures or other materials that contain more information on my condition?

Remember, the doctor is always a phone call away, and many healthcare providers have online portals where you can email or leave messages for the doctor and his or her care team.