What are you hiding from your doctor?
Photography by: courtesy of Shutterstock
Make a list
Prepare questions beforehand to be sure you cover all your bases. Don't forget to:
* Discuss your use of vitamins, herbs, massage, magnet therapy, homeopathy, hypnosis, or any other complementary therapy. Include information on dosage and frequency of use.
* Ask if any of your chosen therapies could potentially interfere with diagnostic tests or otherwise mask a serious condition.
* Bring a list of any medications you're currently taking and ask your doctor to keep a copy of it in your medical-records file.
* Ask about any possible drug interactions with the supplements or other oral therapies you're taking, and remind your doctor of your alternative practices and dietary-supplement usage every time you start a new prescription.
* Find out if your doctor will work with or refer you to alternative-medicine providers. Progressive insurance companies may reimburse you for some complementary therapies if you are referred by your general physician.
If the Internet is your main source for health information, you deserve an honest appraisal of what you find online. "Print a copy of the article or research and ask your doctor to help you evaluate it," says Michael Roizen, M.D., co-author of YOU: The Smart Patient: An Insider's Handbook for Getting the Best Treatment (HarperCollins). In general, research that is published in peer-reviewed journals is best, but reviews compiled by reputable organizations like the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (a division of the National Institutes of Health), American Heart Association, and other health advocacy groups are also acceptable sources. "No doctor should discourage you from doing Web-based research," states Roizen.