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Being your own advocate

It is easy to find doctors intimidating. They spend a long time going to elite schools so they can understand your body better than the person who uses it every day; you.

While doctors may have learned what they need to know about how the human body works, there is often miscommunication when it comes time to understand your symptoms. Still, both you and your doctor have an important part to play when it comes time to get an accurate diagnosis.

Here are some tips for being your own advocate in the doctor’s office.

Bring a chart

If you have been experiencing symptoms for a while, and you have time before your appointment, take notes about your symptoms. You do not need to make a spreadsheet for your visit, but in your notes, include details such as:

  • Duration of each symptom
  • Time of day
  • Activity at the time
  • Pain or discomfort level

Sometimes it can be difficult to communicate how you feel when you experience a symptom, especially when that symptom is intermittent. Notes about your symptoms can help you recall details that might be hard to remember when you are in the doctor’s office.

Cite your sources, carefully

The internet is a valuable resource, and there are many scholarly journals that can help you understand your symptoms before you go to the doctor. Unfortunately, there are also many sites with incorrect information or stories that are specific to one individual and their situation.

When you find a site or article you want your doctor to consider as you talk about your concerns, check who wrote it and what authority they have on the subject. Be especially wary of sites that are trying to sell a product, and, instead look for academic websites that discuss your symptoms.

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