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Why you need to be completely honest with your doctor

We all want people to think we’re younger, thinner and healthier than we are and that we have better habits than we do. However, when you’re talking to your doctor, it’s essential to be completely honest. If you aren’t, they won’t be able to treat you correctly — and could even cause harm that could have been avoided.

Many people lie to their doctors about how much they eat, drink, smoke or use drugs. They may lie about how many sexual partners they have and whether they use protection. They may fail to disclose previous medical procedures, like abortions and plastic surgery, simply out of embarrassment.

However, your doctor needs to know the truth. Depending on what it is, you may get a scolding. No doctor will tell you that smoking a pack a day or drinking a bottle of wine every night is good for you. However, they can help you work to develop a healthier lifestyle. More importantly, they can better determine the cause of what’s ailing you and stay away from medications or treatments that could be dangerous.

For example, nicotine can inhibit the healing process. Therefore, your doctor may want to postpone elective surgery until you cut back on your smoking.

Medications are a big area where patients are often less than truthful. Your doctor probably asks you about all your medications at each visit. That needs to include over-the-counter drugs and supplements. You might not want to admit that you’re using a hormone cream you found on the internet. However, it can interact with something your doctor might prescribe. The same is true for recreational drugs. Whether they’re legal or not, your doctor needs to know about them.

Many doctors ask their patients about anxiety and depression and how they’re feeling in general about life. Again, be honest. Some people never think about these things until they’re asked. If someone is feeling sad or anxious much of the time for no specific reason, their doctor might give them the name of a therapist or perhaps prescribe a mild medication for anxiety. Our physical and emotional health is closely tied together.

By being honest, patients can help minimize the risk that a procedure, treatment or medication will injure them or make them ill. However, if you are harmed because of a doctor’s negligence or error, it’s wise to find out what your legal options are.

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