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How to Prepare for Your Next Doctor's Appointment – Be Curious

April 01, 2022
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When it comes to your health, curiosity can be the key. Research has linked curiosity to psychological, emotional, social, and health benefits. Not only do we learn more when we are curious, we can also become more empathetic, happier, and closer in our relationships.

When it comes to visiting your doctor, curiosity on both sides leads to better decision making and more effective treatment. To keep healthy year-round, your annual physical is the perfect time to ask your primary care provider about any concerns with your well-being. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and educate yourself – being informed is one step towards being (and staying) healthy.

Dr. Svitlana Girenko, medical director and primary care provider at Baystate Primary Care – Feeding Hills, provides insight on what kinds of questions you should be asking at your next doctor’s appointment.

7 QUESTIONS TO ASK AT YOUR NEXT DOCTOR’S APPOINTMENT

1. How much exercise should I be getting?

“This is a good question and the most important one, a great way to start a Q+A session with your doctor,” says Dr. Girenko. Knowing how much exercise you should get is especially important lately, as many have seen a major decrease in their activity levels since the start of the pandemic, all while spending more time at home.

2. What do you think about my blood pressure?

There is more to blood pressure than “high” or “low.”

“Blood pressure depends not only on age, but also on other medical conditions that the patient has, as well as their body type and other factors,” Dr. Girenko explains. It is easier to make decisions about your treatment options when you truly understand your medical condition. If you’re not sure what to do with information in your medical chart, ask clarifying questions.

3. What can I do to improve my current medical condition/conditions (if any)?

“Ideally it is better not to have any medical conditions,” says Dr. Girenko. “I have several patients who are in their 90's taking only vitamins. Maintaining healthy lifestyle is the best. A good diet, work/life balance and exercise will prevent many, if not most, common medical conditions.”

4. Are there any types of tests I should be taking/scheduling?

If a new health condition arises, ask if you are eligible for appropriate screening procedures like a colonoscopy, mammogram, bone density test, or PAP smear.

5. How does my family health history affect my own health? What kinds of symptoms should I be watching for?

“Some people are frequently are unaware of their family history,” says Dr. Girenko. Therefore, it is a great way to get the conversation started.

6. How much sleep should I be getting each night?

What are some things that may prevent/help a good night’s sleep? (Be sure to note if you have any trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or waking up early.)

“A good night’s sleep can set you up for a productive day ahead. If you are having trouble falling asleep every night, there may be an underlying issue. Things such as reducing screen time before bed may help, but your doctor will have other recommendations,” advises Dr. Girenko.

7. How can I better manage my stress?

According to the American Institute of Stress, 77% of people experience stress that affects their physical health. Your doctor might suggest seeing a therapist, cutting a certain food or substance out of your diet, or trying a new medication.

WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR HEALTH, YOU ARE YOUR BEST ADVOCATE

“The more that patients ask questions, the better we can help them. Both parties will benefit from education. If the patient does not ask questions, we could miss vital issues that could have been prevented,” concludes Dr. Girenko.

This is all a part of advocating for yourself …. You have every right to ask questions – don’t hesitate!

Svitlana Girenko, MD has been with Baystate for nearly three years. She is a PCP, board certified in internal medicine and geriatrics, and the medical director at Baystate Primary Care – Feeding Hills.

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