This August is National Wellness Month. Wellness is practicing healthy habits on a regular basis, in order to achieve optimal physical and mental health.
One key component of wellness is making sure you visit your doctor annually.
Routine checkups are critical to your quality of life, and help detect any healthcare concerns early on. Learning what questions to ask during your annual checkup and how to voice concerns to your physician—are key to getting the most out of your visit.
We know doctor’s visits can sometimes make you nervous. But it’s important to connect with a physician you trust, and someone you’re comfortable speaking with. This is especially critical for people of color. Healthcare disparities are still very much present, and if you don’t advocate for your health many problems can go undetected.
Disparities in the healthcare system have shown us that Black Americans are much more likely to suffer and die from ailments such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
This absolutely heartbreaking reality is why you need to learn to advocate for your health. A big part of taking ownership of your wellness is finding the right physician, and asking them the right questions. Connect2Heal has made it simple for patients of color to connect with physicians of the same racial and cultural background.
We know it can be uncomfortable, but being honest with your doctor and voicing your concerns are critical for your overall health and wellbeing.
Here are some key things you need to discuss with your doctor during your next checkup:
Drinking and Smoking Habits
It can be so easy to tell a little white lie when it comes to smoking and drinking habits. But providing your doctor with accurate information is critical to care. Illnesses such as bronchitis are treated differently if you’re a heavy smoker.
Drinking excessively or smoking regularly can have detrimental impacts on your health and wellness. By voicing your habits to your doctor, they can help you develop a plan to reduce these habits moving forward.
Excessive drinking can cause many health problems such as liver cirrhosis, high blood pressure, pancreatitis, and more. Smoking can cause heart disease, lung disease, stroke, diabetes, and more. So developing a plan to combat unhealthy drinking and smoking habits is critical to your overall wellness.
Family Medical History
It’s very easy to forget to share family medical history with your provider. But it’s extremely important to share. Giving your physician insight into what your family history looks like, helps them know what preventative measures can be taken to test for hereditary diseases.
Many illnesses are treated more effectively the earlier they’re detected. So giving your doctor this baseline knowledge is critical to your total health and wellness.
If you take an over-the-counter supplement, it’s still imperative you tell your doctor about it. Different supplements react differently with medications.
For example, if you take calcium supplements there is a good chance they’ll interact with the absorption of different antibiotics. Giving your doctor the full list of over-the-counter and prescription medications you take should not be forgotten.
It can feel embarrassing to talk about bathroom habits (such as bowel movements and bladder problems) and your sex life, but it’s imperative you bring up any concerns to your doctor.
You shouldn’t feel embarrassed as it’s part of their profession. They are not there to judge you, and most often they are required to keep your information confidential. Not telling them about concerns you have regarding these sensitive subjects, could negatively impact your care. Voicing these concerns can also help in early detection of illnesses.
Though a lot of progress has been made in being open about mental health issues, there is still work to be done. Many patients fear bringing up mental health and wellness concerns to their physician. This is often because they don’t want to be labeled as a psychiatric patient. But illnesses such as anxiety and depression should not go overlooked. They are dangerous, interfere with your daily life, and in severe cases could be fatal.
Having open conversations with your doctor about if you’re feeling this way, can help connect you with resources. Connect2Heal is a medical provider directory focused on connecting patients of color with medical professionals who understand them. Check it out today if you’re looking for a mental health provider or physician you can trust.
Even if you’re experiencing a small problem that you think is unimportant, you should bring it up to your doctor. You never know when a small problem could be linked to a larger issue. If it’s on your mind, it’s something you should bring up to your doctor.
Learning to advocate for your health and bringing up what’s bothering you is critical to receiving quality care—especially if you’re a person of color.
Research has shown that healthcare disparities are disproportionately prevalent for the Black population, so it’s important you take ownership of your own health and wellness. No question is off the table when talking to your physician. You should always bring up any concerns you may have.
Any Major Lifestyle Shifts
Personal issues can very much impact your mental health and wellness. You may not think to tell your physician you’re going through a divorce, are suffering from financial hardships, or you just lost a loved one. But it’s absolutely important for them to know.
Lifestyle changes like these can have huge impacts on both your mental and physical wellness. By being honest and open with your physician, you’re giving them the full picture. When they know all the factors impacting you, they’re able to develop a better health and wellness plan. This is why it’s absolutely critical your physician is someone who you trust.
It’s not always easy to bring up lifestyle changes. Especially when they’re deeply personal. But having a physician you trust makes the process a little easier. You’ll notice that the tough conversations aren’t as tough to have when you trust the person you’re speaking to.