7 Things you should never keep from your doctor

15:55 05 July in Somerset Surgery

You’ve been there – half-naked on the exam bed, feeling rather vulnerable. And while you’re eager to share your reason for being in this somewhat compromising position, it’s those ‘little secrets’ you don’t want to share that could harm your health. Your doctor has probably seen and heard it all before, so don’t worry about putting your best foot forward. Especially when it comes to these seven spill-the-beans situations:

1. You’ve had any type of cosmetic surgery.

While you may want to keep this one to yourself, it’s important to include every surgery you’ve had when you give your medical history. Your doctor needs to know if you’ve had a bad reaction to general anaesthesia/IV sedation or any other issue during surgery. This can prevent a repeat experience. If you’ve had the surgery recently, this might influence the treatment of other issues. For instance, if you take omega-3 fatty acids or vitamin E, the expected bruising after surgery could appear worse.

If you are consulting a plastic surgeon to fix a cosmetic surgery you are unhappy with, mention how many times the same area has been operated (especially rhinoplasty). A re-operated area can have compromised blood flow and scarring that needs attention. If your doctor is properly informed, he can plan your surgery to optimise your safety.

2. You smoke (even if it’s just ‘socially’).

Smoking can cause surgery-related complications, so if your doctor knows about your habits, he can take precautions to reduce your risk of having problems. Even the occasional cigarette, combined with birth control or hormone replacements, can increase your chance of developing blood clots or having a stroke.

5. You don’t follow all or any of your doctor’s instructions.

When you’re undergoing treatment, your doctor might think it’s not working and increase doses, which could lead to overmedication/more aggresive tests. Rather be honest about your reasons for not complying – you can’t afford the meds or you’re struggling to complete the exercises. Ask for an alternative solution.

4. You eat more junk food than you prefer to admit.

If there’s no clear lifestyle reason for your weight gain, prediabetic condition or high cholesterol, you may have to take drugs you don’t need.

5. Your ‘two glasses’ a week is more like ‘two per day’.

If you have certain risk factors for breast cancer, even one glass a day could be one too many. Your doctor might misinterpret the high level of liver enzymes in your lab results and prescribe unnecessary tests or treatment if he doesn’t know you drink. Alcohol also doesn’t mix well with many medications and your doctor can advise accordingly if you fess up.

6. You’re taking over-the-counter meds/supplements/hard drugs or a friend’s prescription drug.

Certain over-the-counter medications and supplements can interact with other treatments, for example, Saint John’s Wort and antidepressants or antihistamine and a sedative. Apart from the obvious dangers of taking medication prescribed for someone else, your doctor might misdiagnose symptoms caused by the drug. So it’s best to tell the truth about all the meds you’re taking, including the herbal ones.

If you confess to taking hard drugs (cocaine, cannabis or tik) or you are a recovering addict, the doctor will not necessarily refuse to perform your surgery, but he can give you pre-operative advice. This will also allow the medical team to be prepared for your symptoms post-operatively and prescribe pain meds that won’t interfere with your sobriety.

7. You’ve had more than one partner and don’t always use condoms.

If you keep this from your doctor, he might not screen you for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or HIV. STDs are easier to treat if detected early and it’s important to know your HIV status to prevent spreading the disease. Simply request a test from your doctor.

Source: Good Housekeeping, September 2017