The Top 8 Secrets You Keep from Your Doctor
Are you telling your doctor everything he needs to know to take care of you?
1. Use of Over-the-Counter (OTC) Medicines, Herbal Supplements, and Vitamins continued...
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
2. Your Sexual History
"It's really important for us to know how many sexual partners someone has
had, so if you've had 40, I may approach things differently than if you've had
four," says Lissa Rankin, MD, author of the forthcoming What's up Down
There? Questions You'd Only Ask your Gynecologist if She was your Best
It matters to a gynecologist because your lifetime chance of getting
sexually transmitted diseases rises with how many partners you've had. “The new
Pap guidelines say if you're low risk, you can go three years between Pap
smears, but if someone's had 100 sexual partners, then I would say that rule
doesn't apply to you," Rankin says.
Men need to come clean, too. Their risk for HIV, hepatitis, and other STDs
increase with the number of sexual partners and their sexual preference.
Doctors need to make sure men get screened properly and often enough.
3. How Much You Smoke, Drink, or use Illegal Substances
It may be difficult sharing these secrets because you think your doctor will
give you yet another smoking lecture or judge you. But doctors aren't there to
Plus, doctor-patient confidentiality laws ensure your information remains
private. In most states, doctors can only break confidence if someone is an
imminent danger to themselves or others.
What's more, your doctor needs to know what you're taking to protect your
health, run the right tests, and diagnose correctly.
For instance, "we may need to check your liver function or you may be at
risk of ulcers," Rankin says. There are a host of other medical issues if
you've got an addiction or take too much of any drug -- legal or not.