How to Give Your Family Doctor a Better Picture of Your Symptoms


doctor talking with patientIf you’ve had some health issues lately that drove you to find a primary care physician, you’ll want to let them know why you’re concerned for your health. Sometimes keeping track of all the issues you’ve had can be difficult, though. Other times, your doctor may have questions that you struggle to answer.

The more thorough your description of your health issues, the easier it is for your primary care physician to make a diagnosis. There are a few tips you can follow to communicate more effectively with your primary care doctor.

Start at the Beginning

Think of every good story you’ve heard, and you’ll realize they all have a beginning, middle and an end. Describe the symptoms as you noticed them, and note changes in factors like duration or intensity over time.

When you find a primary care physician, relating your health concerns as a story can help your doctor relate to you better as a patient.

Relate Your Symptoms to Your Life

If someone asks you how intense a feeling is, it can be tempting to relate it to a 10-point scale. Instead, when describing a symptom to your primary care physician, try to describe it in your own terms. Saying “I’ve never felt such a sharp, stabbing pain my life” may be more helpful than simply giving your pain a numerical score.

Write Down Your Symptoms

It’s not uncommon to have a clear idea about what you want to say, then draw a total blank when it comes time to speak. Writing down your thoughts beforehand can help you organize your thoughts and help you say everything you want to say. Keeping a journal can also offer insights into potentially important symptoms that may have otherwise gone unnoticed.