Health changes you should share with your primary care provider
Life is full of changes. When changes involve your physical,
emotional, or mental
health, it's important to share them with your primary care provider (PCP).
Having a clear understanding of your overall health provides your PCP with the
information they need to determine the best and most effective care for you.
Your PCP is your trusted partner in health. You wouldn't
want a work partner or school partner only knowing part of the information in a
group project, and you don't want your health partner to only know minor
details about your symptoms.
When you have something you want to discuss with your PCP, keep these details in mind.
Share your past and present symptoms
According to the American Academy of Family
Physicians, most people only visit their
PCPs when they're sick. At these appointments, it's normal to report on your
symptoms. However, it's important to tell your provider about any symptoms you
experience, even if they go away on their own.
Symptoms to mention include:
- Bruises, bumps, lumps, or cuts
- New or worsening pains
- Sleeping difficulties
- Weight gain or loss
Before visiting your PCP, note your various symptoms and be
as specific as possible. For example, if you've developed a new pain, take note
of what you were doing when the pain started, what the pain feels like, and how
long the pain has lasted. List any treatments you've tried and how well each
By providing as much information as possible, you help your
PCP get to the root of the problem and give you an accurate diagnosis.
problems aren't a big deal—or so you think. As a result, you might write them
off as minor problems or unavoidable parts of growing older, but they might be
signs of something more serious.
small issues with your provider, your PCP can decide whether a small issue is
indeed a small issue. You can then treat it properly.
- Fatigue. Feeling tired now and then is normal.
Frequent fatigue, however, could mean you have a condition such as anemia, sleep
apnea, or diabetes, according to the National
Institute on Aging.
- Headaches. Headaches are an accepted part of
life. You should still tell your PCP when they come on. Seek medical attention
if a headache sticks around more than a day, focuses on one eye, or is different
or more painful than other headaches.
- Loss of appetite. It might seem good for your
waistline, but losing your appetite can be the result of an underlying problem.
Mismanaged stress, depression, infections, or chronic illnesses can all steal
- Slow-healing wounds. Diabetes, poor circulation, and obesity are three reasons wounds heal slowly. Expert wound care might be necessary if a wound doesn't improve within four weeks.
Even if there's
no major problem, reporting all your symptoms to your PCP is a good idea. There
might be treatment, even for little problems. Telling your PCP allows you to
find relief and take small steps toward better health.
Inform your PCP about uncomfortable changes
to aches, pains, and changes in sleep or eating habits, your PCP should know
about more private topics. It might be uncomfortable, but talking about every
change in your health helps your PCP help you.
A few less-comfortable
topics to talk about include:
and bowel issues.
Your provider is used to discussing issues such as urinary incontinence, rectal
bleeding, and other concerns you might be too embarrassed to bring up. Often,
these conditions can be treated or investigated further to help you find a
- Forgetfulness. Misplacing your keys now and then is
normal. Feeling confused often, repeating the same question, or forgetting to
eat or bathe isn't.
- Menopausal symptoms. Passing
through menopause brings a host of uncomfortable symptoms. You might experience
hot flashes, sleep problems, or urinary incontinence. Your body might change
shape, and you might have mood swings.
- Mental health issues. Depression, anxiety, and other mental
health issues cause a variety of symptoms. You might have a hard time
concentrating or getting out of bed in the morning. Eating might not interest
you, or you might worry more than usual.
- Sexual dysfunction. Nearly 30 million American men experience erectile dysfunction, according to the National Institutes of Health. Sexual issues also affect women. They might have a low sex drive or experience pain during intercourse.
Difficult as it can be to discuss these topics, treatment can help manage many of them. Often, your PCP can diagnose and treat these conditions on the spot. When additional care is necessary, your PCP can refer you to an appropriate specialist.
Looking for someone to help you
through whatever health changes life throws your way? Find a provider at Reid Health.