7 Things NOT To Say To Your Doctor (Unless You Want To Drive Them CRAZY)

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what not to say to your doctor

When we think of doctors, we often picture stethoscopes, lab coats, X-rays and medication. And although these tools are a large part of the gig, most doctors actually spend their days speaking with people just like you and me. In fact, interacting with a diverse range of patients is the majority of every doctor’s workload.

It’s not unusual for general practitioners to see upwards of twenty patients every day. That’s twenty people with distinct personalities, individual quirks and unique communication styles to contend with. When you consider that many patients consider themselves a health expert today, thanks to Dr. Google, it’s no surprise there are some complaints that doctors are simply tired of hearing.

Here's what not to say to your doctor to make your visit run much more smoothly and make their lives a little easier.

1. “I Googled my symptoms and I think I need this test...” 

Although many doctors believe the internet can help people become more informed about their health, the reality is that Google can also induce unnecessary stress and anxiety about your symptoms.

“Patients often consider the worst-case scenarios that may be detailed online,” explains Dr. Ryan Harvey from House Call Doctor. “The truth is that no Google search can substitute professional medical advice.”

Doctors aim to work in partnership with their patients, with the shared goal of restoring you to full health. If your doctor does not recommend a particular test or medication, chances are that you don’t need it, despite what the internet may claim.

2. “I just need some antibiotics...”

Popping a pill to fix your symptoms may sound tempting, but antibiotics are not a cure all. In fact, only certain bacterial infections require antibiotic treatment. Common conditions like gastro and viruses can be naturally resolved by your body’s immune system.

“Taking antibiotics for common viruses will not only be ineffective treatment but may also involve potentially harmful side effects,” explains Dr. Harvey. "Overuse of antibiotics can create bacteria that are resistant to treatment and harder to eradicate.”

3. “I’ve heard that vaccinations are dangerous...”

Vaccinations have been blamed for everything from ADHD to asthma, but the fact remains that any adverse health outcomes associated with vaccinations are extremely rare, and far outweighed by the proven health benefits.   

“Serious diseases such as polio and smallpox have been eradicated with the use of vaccinations,” says Dr. Harvey. “Vaccinations have proven medical benefits for entire communities, such as eradicating infectious diseases and reducing medical complications amongst infants and children. Families should speak with their healthcare professionals to receive informed advice about vaccinations. This will dispel the conjecture that sometimes surrounds vaccinations and ensure that patients receive expert guidance.”

4. “I’ve been on this medication but I can’t remember why...”

When your doctor prescribes medication, it’s crucial to remember the dosage, frequency, and purpose of your treatment. Storing notes in your phone is a handy way to remember any regular prescriptions, particularly in the event of a medical emergency.

Patients should work with their doctor and pharmacist to become as health literate about their conditions as possible,” says Dr. Harvey. “When patients don’t understand their medication, this creates a risk of mismanagement and other health issues.”

5. “I’ve been having chest pain for a few weeks now...”

Well, this is definitely what not to say to your doctor. Let’s get this straight, people: some symptoms need to be treated with urgency and chest pain, shortness of breath or weak tingling limbs fall into this category! If you’re suffering from chest pain, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

“In extreme cases, chest pain may signal life-threatening conditions such as heart failure or stroke,” advises Dr. Harvey. “Early detection is essential as this offers patients the best chance of survival. Do not let the symptoms persist.”

6. “I didn’t finish that medication you prescribed...”

“If your doctor has prescribed certain medication, the treatment will be designed to reduce your symptoms and improve your health,” says Dr. Harvey. “If you have a concern about a given medication, you should raise this with your doctor during your appointment.”

Ignoring medication that has been prescribed may leave you susceptible to continued poor health. Likewise, skipping a dose or suddenly ditching regular medication without professional guidance may have adverse health effects. Your doctor is there to offer expert advice. Please take it! 

7. “My back is sore, so I obviously need an X-ray...”

Most back pain is related to muscular strains or spasms, so there is often little benefit in obtaining an X-ray or CT scan. Unless your skeletal system is damaged, X-rays may expose you to unnecessary radiation and will not relieve your back pain.

“The best treatment for back pain normally involves anti-inflammatories, pain relief, physiotherapy and targeted exercises,” Dr. Harvey advises. “Back pain can sometimes take weeks to dissipate, and an X-ray won’t necessarily help with your treatment.”

Fortunately, doctors put their patients first and although you may be the fiftieth person in a week to ask the same (damn) question, medical experts will always provide comprehensive healthcare. Thanks, doc!