Your annual physical is an essential part of staying well. But if you’re like most patients, you’ll only get to spend around 20 minutes with your doctor during your appointment, according to Harvard Medical School. With that little time, important topics can sometimes get overlooked.
Having a list of questions to ask your doctor can help. By preparing them ahead of time, you can make the most of your time with your doctor — and ensure that you get the best possible care. Here are five important topics worth bringing up at your next yearly visit.
1. Can You Help Me Put Together a Family History?
A detailed family history can help paint a more accurate picture of your health — and offer important clues about your risk for conditions like heart disease, Alzheimer’s and some types of cancer. If you don’t already have a history ready, your doctor can help.
2. How’s My Weight — Really?
Many doctors avoid mentioning this potentially uncomfortable topic with their patients. But more than two in three U.S. adults are overweight or obese, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, and the number on the scale is worth talking about. So take the initiative to bring it up. If you’re not at your ideal weight, your doctor can offer diet and exercises that can help you get there.
3. What Screenings Do I Need?
Recommendations on important screenings — like breast and colon cancer—have changed recently, according to the American Cancer Society. Your doctor can help you determine which tests are right for you and how often you need them.
4. What Vaccines Do I Need?
From flu shots, to Tdap, to the shingles vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends more than 10 different immunizations for adults. Your needs will depend on your age, lifestyle and medical history, so ask your doctor what you might be due for.
5. What’s One Small Change I Can Make to Be Healthier?
Trying to improve your health can often feel overwhelming. Your doctor can shine a light on one important area that’s worth focusing on, and offer suggestions for making progress.
Make the most of your next doctor’s appointment by preparing a list of questions to ask your doctor ahead of time to discuss what’s most important for your health.