What if you haven’t been to the doctor in a long while, and now, realizing that you’ve been feeling short of breath, you’ve scheduled an appointment for a physical? How do you best prepare for that office visit? How do you make sure you communicate clearly how you’re feeling and the symptoms you’re experiencing? We have some advice.
First things first – be prepared to share any symptoms or phenomena you’ve been experiencing, and don’t minimize in order to avoid being thought of as a complainer. If you call a plumber to your house, you don’t make him guess what the problem is, right? It’s the same with your doctor. Give him or her all the information you have in order to make it possible to give you an accurate diagnosis and the best care.
Next, make a list of all of your medications – name, dosage, and the frequency that you take them. Do this even with the medications that your doctor prescribed. It’s helpful to confirm that you are indeed taking what your doctor thinks you’re taking, and it’s essential to make sure that he has a complete list of all of your medications – even including over-the-counter vitamins and supplements, if you take them.
Also be prepared to fill out a questionnaire at the office regarding your medical history. You might want to prepare a “cheat sheet” ahead of time with dates of immunizations and medical events in your life.
Finally, with regard to your shortness of breath, gather as much information as you can about that particular symptom that’s caused you to make the office visit. How severe is it? Are you short of breath all of the time, or only when you exert yourself such as climbing stairs? Does it happen every day, or only on certain days, with good days in between? How severe is it? Do you experience coughing or wheezing as well? Is it getting worse? Did anything change in your life that might be affecting your breathing, such as moving to a new location, a change of jobs or activity level, or even something like installation of a new carpet or a new pet in your home (that might be causing an allergic reaction)?
For more on how to prepare for a visit to the doctor, especially if you haven’t been for a while, click here to read PERF Board member Mary Burns’ comprehensive article published in the PERF Second Wind Newsletter.