Nobody is comfortable sharing private details about themselves to their physician who, let's face it, is practically a stranger in most cases, but honesty is always the best policy, especially when it comes to the relationship with your doctor. Not being totally forthcoming about issues you're experiencing isn't the best idea because if your physician doesn't know what's going healthwise, you're not going to get the best care and treatment. Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with experts who explain why many patients aren't upfront about health concerns and shared seven things to never hide from your doctor. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Why People Aren't Truthful With Their Doctor
Dr. Jacob Hascalovici MD, PhD as the Clearing Chief Medical Officer tells us, "There are many reasons why people might hide things from their doctor. Perhaps they're embarrassed or ashamed of certain conditions or habits. They may not want to discuss sensitive information if a friend or family member is in the room with them, and they may even have trouble talking to themselves about certain things, like cutting, abuse, or addiction, for example. They may also fear legal repercussions for certain behaviors, like taking street drugs, for example. In some populations, there can be real or perceived advantages to keeping sensitive information close–this is why some people would rather not discuss mental health issues, for example, for fear their job status might be compromised or because they would rather not have that information included in their medical record. And some things may seem so minor, people may not be consciously hiding them, but may not realize that mentioning them could actually be important."
Dr. Bayo Curry-Winchell, Urgent Care Medical Director and Physician, Carbon Health and Saint Mary's Hospital explains, "People are often afraid to share their concerns for multiple reasons. Some of the most common are fear of feeling judged about an issue or being made to feel their health complaint isn't a big deal. I have had patients share that they were afraid to come in and waste their doctor's time. You should never feel that way! Another common cause is the mistrust in the healthcare system often felt by marginalized communities and people of color. There's a real fear they will not be taken seriously, or their ailments or concerns will be dismissed and not fully explored."
Drugs, Medications, Supplements and Vitamins
Dr. Hascalovici warns, "Your doctor and pharmacist can't prescribe the best treatment for you if they're not aware of everything you're taking. That includes all vitamins, supplements, other medications, folk remedies, and street drugs you're ingesting. Being upfront with your doctor helps ensure you won't suffer bad side effects or drug interactions."
Dr. Hascalovici shares, "Smoking, unprotected sex, or other risks you might feel embarrassed about. We get it; telling your doctor deeply personal information can feel invasive or make you feel vulnerable. Often, people can be reluctant to frankly discuss their sexual lives, any addictions they may have, or habits that may endanger their health. It can be tempting to try to cover up habits you know you "shouldn't" be doing, like smoking, or to underplay how often you actually take pain medication, eat fast food, skip working out, and more. It's human nature to try to put a positive spin on things and present ourselves in a good light, but doing that risks keeping valuable information secret from your doctor, meaning you might not get the best care possible. If it's any consolation, your doctor has probably heard it all by now."
Pain or Stress
Dr. Hascalovici states, "Some people can be very stoic. They may have the sense that telling their doctor about physical or emotional pain or extra stress they're going through may be burdensome or "beside the point," and so they may keep this kind of information to themselves. It can be tempting to try to make your doctor feel better, since you see they have good intentions, and so some people put pressure on themselves to show improvement in their medical appointments. This may lead them to gloss over or "sugar coat" their symptoms, which could give their doctor a false picture of how well they're doing and could prevent them from getting the care and support they deserve. It's part of your doctor's job to take pain or stress you're dealing with into account, so it's a good idea to mention these openly and initiate a discussion about how to handle current stress and pain while preventing more in the future. Nipping pain and stress in the bud now can pay off down the line, especially since the two can feed one another."
Why You Made the Appointment
Dr. Curry-Winchell tells us, "It's important to share why you made the appointment and include any details you think are relevant to your health complaint. Hiding this information prevents your healthcare provider from asking pertinent follow-up questions and ordering tests needed to confirm or rule out a diagnosis."
Dr. Curry-Winchell emphasizes, "Sharing this information is vital. There are some diseases and conditions that are known to have similar genetic backgrounds. This information helps your provider order proper screenings, lab tests or closely monitor your risks for developing specific health conditions such as high cholesterol, heart disease and cancers."
Dr. Curry-Winchell says, "Let your provider know if it's a new or old issue. Knowing how long a symptom has been present is important for your diagnosis."
If Your Symptoms Have Worsened
Dr. Curry-Winchell advises, "Reach out to your healthcare provider. We need to know if your condition has stayed the same, worsened or if there's any new developments."