It’s easy to feel like your health and well-being is completely up to your doctors and other professionals. No matter what your symptoms or how your health is affecting your everyday life, one word from your doctor and your life could change forever.
You don’t want to have to deal with a wrong diagnosis, you don’t want to feel forced into taking medication that makes you feel uncomfortable, and you definitely don’t want your loved ones to have to deal with a wrongful death lawsuit.
That means learning how to be comfortable advocating for your own health with these tips.
Take the Time to Understand Your Health Insurance
Health insurance is something that’s difficult to live with, but you can’t live without it either. Although it’s much easier just to wait until you get the bill before you drop a check in the mail, it is well worth the time and effort to understand the details of your specific health insurance policy.
Things to understand about your health insurance include:
- Your deductible
- Your copay
- Services you can get for free
- Providers who are in your network
- Costs for drugs
- Flexible spending and health savings accounts
- When and how you can change your policy
Understanding your health insurance also means calling your insurance company and asking questions whenever you have them. You may discover a benefit you didn’t know you had, or you may discover that you have been charged incorrectly.
Do Your Research
Many people like to joke about WebMD and the fact that just about every combination of symptoms can be traced back to a serious illness, but doing your own research is important. It includes trying to get a better understanding of what your symptoms might mean, but it also includes finding ways to deal with symptoms and prescriptions that make you uncomfortable.
For example, your doctor may prescribe a medication, but after some research, you may discover that an herbal remedy has the potential to be just as effective. Or, you may discover that certain stretches and exercises can reduce pain without the need for medication at all.
In addition, doing research means spending time on the internet, but it also includes reading books, watching documentaries, and talking with experts.
Write Down Questions
Chances are, you have questions you want to ask your doctor during your next appointment. You may spend a lot of time thinking about what you want to ask, but as soon as you get into the doctor’s office, you forget all about them. That’s especially the case if your doctor moves fast and tries to get patients in and out of the door quickly. Even if you only have one question, you should write it down. That way, you can’t forget to ask.
You should also ask your doctor if there’s an easy way for you to ask questions if you think of any later. They may give you the number to their direct line, you may discover they prefer email, or they may help you sign up for an online portal that enables you to send questions whenever you have them.
Don’t Be Afraid to Get a Second Opinion
Doctors do their best, but they are human, which means they can make mistakes. If you’re given a serious diagnosis, or you are prescribed treatments that aren’t working like they are supposed to, you should consider getting a second opinion.
You shouldn’t feel guilty about it either! Don’t feel like you have to mention it to your regular doctor if you make a different appointment, and don’t feel bad if you end up deciding to switch doctors. Your health matters more than someone else’s feelings.
Trust Your Gut
Doctors are experts in their field. You should always take their opinion seriously, but if something doesn’t seem quite right, you should also listen to your gut.
No one knows your body better than you do. If a diagnosis doesn’t seem right or you suspect a medication you’re taking is causing problems, don’t be afraid to speak up. Do additional research, get another opinion, and never stop seeking answers. Getting and being well is a journey that comes with many twists and turns, but you should always feel like you’re in the driver’s seat.
Don’t leave your health up to someone else, no matter how knowledgeable they are! You are your best advocate, and when you follow the tips on this list, you can enjoy a positive relationship with your body, as well as a long and healthy life.
By Susan Melony