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Preparing for a GP Visit

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 20 Jul 2016 | comments*Discuss
Gp Health Symptoms Condition Disease

Embarrassing issues can greatly affect your physical and emotional health, but many times people delay in seeking help because they just don't want to let others know what is going on. If you are suffering from an embarrassing issue, book in to see your GP now. Then spend some time preparing for your visit by writing down your symptoms, tracking the progression of your issue, detailing how the issue has affected your life and drawing up your own medical history.

Listing Your Symptoms

Listing your symptoms is an important part of helping your GP narrow down what might be the underlying cause of your embarrassing issue. In addition to writing down your current symptoms, write down those that have occurred in the past. If something changed and it made your symptoms change, be sure to make a note of that as well. And don't forget to note if there is a pattern to your symptoms. Do they fade after you use a certain product? Are they exacerbated at a certain time of day? Does your diet or exercise schedule make a difference? The more detail your can provide, the faster you might arrive at a diagnosis and treatment plan.

Tracking the Progression of the Issue

Once you have your symptoms worked out, try to organise these notes into a timeline tracking the progression of the issue. Which were the first symptoms you noticed? When did they appear? What were you doing at the time? When did the next symptoms come on? Were you doing anything different? Were you in a different location? Continue with this organisation until you have arrived at your current symptoms. Your GP may not need to look at this timeline, but it could help you clarify things in your own mind and see connections that you might not have noticed in the past. All of this could become valuable in a discussion with your GP.

Detailing How the Issue Affects Your Life

Also important to think about is how your embarrassing issue has affected your life. While it might be obvious that you would prefer not to have symptoms, it may not be obvious to a GP looking at a list that your life has been significantly altered due to your condition. Ask yourself how the issue or symptoms have affected your work, social life, hobbies and/or home life. Have you had to make accommodations? Have you ever avoided people or activities because of your symptoms? Have these changes affected your income, relationships or mood? Even a relatively minor issue may have had impact over weeks, months or years and your GP needs to know if your quality of life has become affected because of it.

Drawing Up Your Medical History

Finally, draw up a quick medical history for your GP. This is particularly important if you have had health issue that your GP did not treat, for example if you were living in a different location at the time or if a specialist treated you for something rather than the GP. Don't assume that all notes from other professionals or hospitals made it back to your GP. Be sure to include information on past and present medications (including dosages), any previously diagnosed medical conditions and prior surgeries. When you've finished, you might also want to note down questions about your medical future. Asking your GP about what the cause of your issues might be, what kind of tests could help him or her with the diagnosis, treatment options for particular diagnoses and information on the expected progression of a condition or disease are all appropriate questions for a GP visit.

Preparing for a GP visit not only makes you feel more confident about your appointment, but more in control of your own health. Embarrassing issues aren't easy to discuss, so don't be afraid to compliment yourself on this important step. List your symptoms, track the progression of the issue, detail the ways in which the embarrassing issue has affected your life and draw up your own medical history. With all of this information on hand you will be well prepared to discuss your health with your GP.

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