At your annual doctor's checkup, you hop up on the exam table and bare your
You 'fess up about how much alcohol you consume, how many times you smoked
last week, the herbal supplements you pop, or the fact that you're battling
depression or are anxious about job layoffs at the office. Maybe you tell her
you're worried about your 401K rebounding in time for retirement, or your
recent new sexual partners.
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No? Isn't everyone sharing this level of information with their doctor?
Apparently not. And that hush-hush attitude may be risky.
Why You're Not Telling
“People often don't share with their doctors aspects of dysfunction in their
lives because it's embarrassing and creates a great level of discomfort," says
Bernard Kaminetsky, MD, FACP, the medical director of MDVIP, a group of
boutique medicine doctors headquartered in Boca Raton, Fla. “You're not
going to share unless you have a very trusting relationship with your
Patients withhold information from their doctors for a variety of reasons.
Often they just don't think their marital problems, anxiety, or worries are
fodder for their cholesterol checkup. Or they're embarrassed to bring up touchy
topics like sex or bathroom problems like incontinence or constipation.
Others may skip information that they don't think is important. And there's
not much time during a checkup to tell all.
But not telling could spell trouble -- even if you'd rather not admit to an
inconvenient truth or two.
Everything from your stress to your sexual history to your use of
supplements can affect your health and should be disclosed to your doctor.
Here are the top eight secrets you keep from your doctor and why you should
1. Use of Over-the-Counter (OTC) Medicines, Herbal Supplements, and Vitamins
You may think the doctor will look down her nose at certain herbs and
supplements, but you need to tell her exactly what you take.
Some supplements and OTC products may not mix well with prescription
medicines you've been prescribed and could cause a reaction. Patients can even
have specific conditions for which they shouldn't take an OTC medicine.
For instance, Kaminetsky says people with liver disease should use
acetaminophen sparingly if at all. Likewise, certain weight loss supplements
could have cardiac implications for someone with heart disease.
And "natural" does not always mean "safe," according to the web site
for the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM).
"For example, the herbs comfrey and kava can cause serious harm to the liver,"
states NCCAM's web site.
Vitamins and minerals are also something your doctor needs to know about.
High doses can be risky; for instance, too much selenium can cause
gastrointestinal upset, hair loss, fatigue, irritability, and mild nerve
damage, according to the National Institutes of Health's Office of Dietary