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What to expect at your first doctor's visit

April 01, 2002|BY Christine L. Moats

Q: What can I do to prepare for my first doctor's visit without one of my parents?

A: To be prepared, do the following:

Bring your medical records or have them transferred from your previous doctor's office.

Bring your insurance card with you to your visit.

Arrive early for your first visit as you will most likely have to fill out paperwork.

If you haven't been feeling well, make a list of the symptoms you've been experiencing to share with your doctor.

Write down any questions or concerns that you would like to discuss with the doctor. Ask for an explanation if you don't understand something the doctor/nurse has told you.

Make sure your doctor is aware of any medications you are taking as well as vitamins, herbs or any supplements.

If it makes you feel more comfortable, bring a friend with you.

Schedule a follow-up appointment if the doctor would like to see you again.

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Q: What can I expect at my first doctor's visit?

A: Your doctor will ask you a series of questions about your medical history, family history, work history, and lifestyle. You'll be asked to describe any symptoms you've had, if any.

Let's use high blood pressure as an example. The doctor will want to know how you first found out that your blood pressure was elevated. If you've been feeling well and have had no symptoms, this is not unusual.

The doctor may ask you questions about the following:

Medications (prescribed and over-the-counter)

Improved blood pressure with the medication

Side effects experienced from medications

Your parents' health and any problems they've experienced with blood pressure or other health problems

Alcohol consumption or smoking

Your exercise and eating habits

Stress level

Questions about other symptoms and problems may be asked to provide more clues both to the cause and the consequences of high blood pressure.

The physical exam may include:

Examining your eyes, ears and mouth

Checking your blood pressure (possibly more than once - in both arms, lying, sitting and standing - if high blood pressure is a diagnosis)

Recording your weight

Listening to your heart and lungs

Checking your heart rate

Because high blood pressure can affect so many areas of the body, your doctor may examine the pulse in your neck, abdomen and eyes.

Depending on the symptoms you describe, you doctor may recommend certain tests, such as blood work or other tests specific to your symptoms. This will be discussed at the time of your first visit. Make sure you ask questions if there is something you don't understand.

Source: www.lifeclinic.com, www.aarp.org

Christine L. Moats is wellness coordinator for Washington County Hospital.

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