A patient talking with her primary care provider during an appointment.
Healthy Living

10 Questions to Ask at Your Next Primary Care Appointment

Sep 8 2020

Making regular appointments with your primary care provider is so important. Studies have shown that it can help you stay healthier, live longer and even save money.

Make sure to make the most of each appointment. Here are 10 questions you could ask your primary care provider at your next checkup. And if there are certain topics you plan to discuss, be sure to mention them when you schedule the appointment so your provider can prepare to best address your questions.

Do I need any screenings?

Screenings for diseases like cancer are important, but people often don’t get them until they’re older. While age does play a role, your family history, health history and gender could also help determine when you’re due for these important tests. For example, ask your provider if it’s time for you to have that mammogram or colonoscopy.

Am I at a healthy weight?

Over two thirds of adults in the United States are overweight or obese. This condition can lead to many health complications. Your weight may have crept up or down since your last checkup. And there’s no one specific goal weight for every person. For this reason, you should ask your provider if your weight is healthy. If not, ask what you can do about it to work on improving your health.

Can we go over my medications?

Whether you already take medications regularly or your provider prescribes something new, it’s best to discuss your medicines every time you go in for a visit. Ask what any new medications do and what they treat. Find out if there are any side effects to look out for. You’ll also want to make sure none of your medications could interact negatively with each other.

Do I need any supplements?

If you’re thinking about taking vitamins or supplements, talk to your provider first. They can let you know if they’re really beneficial. They can also tell you if they could interact with any of your medications and if you should avoid certain vitamins.

How are my vitals?

One of the most important parts of your visit should be checking your vital signs. This includes your heart rate, respiration rate, body temperature and blood pressure. Most of the time, these readings can give your provider a good indication of whether or not you have any health problems creeping up. If they don’t bring up your numbers, be sure to ask.

Do I need any vaccines?

Vaccine recommendations are always changing, so ask your provider if there are any you should get at this time. Again, your age and health can play a role in which vaccines your provider suggests. Time between shots also matters, and you may need a booster. Remember to get a flu shot every year to protect your health.

Can we discuss this new issue I’m having?

Of course, if something specific is bothering you, it’s always best to bring it up before it becomes too serious. Maybe you have a new mole on your arm that looks unusual. Maybe you aren’t sleeping well lately. Maybe you’re thinking of getting pregnant. Whatever it is, always let your provider know so they can provide the best help possible. Also, be sure to mention this when scheduling your appointment so your provider can be prepared to discuss it with you during the visit.

Can we discuss my mental health?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions about your mental health, not just your physical health. Maybe you’ve been experiencing panic attacks lately or you’re just feeling down. Maybe you’re under a lot of stress right now. Your provider can help you decide if you have an issue and figure out what you can do to support your mental health.

What else can I do to improve my health right now?

The goal of a primary care visit is to make sure you’re staying healthy. Always ask your provider if there’s anything you can do to get even healthier. Maybe you could lose a few pounds or get a few more hours of sleep each night. Maybe you aren’t getting enough exercise or drinking enough water. It never hurts to ask for advice before you leave.

When should I come back?

And finally, ask your provider when you should come back. If you’re generally healthy, your provider may not ask you to come back for another year. If they’re helping you manage a certain condition or you’re recovering from a serious illness, they may want to see you back more frequently.

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