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When Confessions are Good for Your Health

Tim Boyer's picture
Doctor Checking a Patient

One of the problems of the doctor-patient relationship is that patients tend to sometimes not reveal everything that they should to their doctor - especially when it involves something that they find embarrassing or believe that their doctor would disapprove of. A recent article in Consumer Reports on Health tells us that confession can be good for your health by sharing six common secrets patients often withhold from their physicians. The following is a summary of confession secrets that may clear your tormented mind as well as your tormented body.

Consumer Reports on Health medical writer Orly Avitzur, M.D. describes to readers in an article titled “6 Secrets to Share with Your Doctor” how that when she was a medical student, one part of her training involved watching porn films followed by discussions, to prepare her and her classmates for open discussions about sexuality-related issues with their patients.

Sexuality issues as well as many other health related issues are often too sensitive for some patients to feel comfortable enough with to discuss with their physician. As a result, sins of omission of personal health concerns can limit a doctor’s effectiveness toward treating some conditions properly

As a result, Doctor Orly Avitzur shares these 6 secrets that are summarized below along with a few extra points about why you should share your confessional secrets with your physician:

Confession Secret #1: You drink too much
When a physician asks you about your alcohol consumption, it’s not just to find out whether you have a drinking habit that may be causing some symptoms of ill health, but also to ensure that your doctor will not mistakenly recommend medications for you that may react unfavorable with alcohol. It also alerts your doctor to the fact that your alcohol use may have compromised your liver’s ability to safely handle some medications.

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Confession Secret #2: You’ve lost your job
For many people, losing a job can cause stress-related health conditions equal to a death in a family or losing a home to fire. However, it can also mean losing your health benefits that previously covered your prescription costs. As such, a Consumer Reports poll found that 28 percent of those who had lost their health plan tended to do things like avoid filling prescriptions, taking expired meds to save money, skipping doses and various other actions. If you are not taking your pills as directed and your doctor does not know about this, then your doctor may assume that the meds are not working on you and will change your prescription or the dosage.

Confession Secret #3: You’ve started to smoke again
Nobody cheers for you when you announce that you’ve taken up smoking again. However, this does not mean that your physician is going to give you a good tongue lashing when he or she finds out. Rather, it gives your doctor an opportunity to help you identify why you started smoking again and provide you with alternatives that are healthier and/or find ways to help you quit again.

Confession Secret #4: You’re forgetting things
Forgetfulness can be the result of something other than a neurodegenerative disease like Alzheimer’ disease—it can also be due to medications, a thyroid problem, small strokes or other treatable causes. Letting your doctor know that you are experiencing memory problems is an important secret that you need to share to prevent potentially more severe, permanent damage to your health.

Confession Secret #5: You’re having bedroom trouble
Changes in your libido or experiencing erectile dysfunction are difficult topics to discuss with someone else. However, doing so can often lead to easy resolutions for bedroom troubles that may be the result of a variety of medications such as antidepressants, blood pressure drugs, painkillers and opioids. However, bedroom troubles can also be the result of heart disease or diabetes, both of which require immediate attention.

Confession Secret #6: You’re seeing someone else
Doctor hopping, seeking 2nd or third opinions or adding alternative medicines to your list of prescriptions can lead to complications when your primary care physician is unaware that you may be taking meds other than those that he prescribed for you. Be upfront with your doctor about all of the medications and health supplements you are taking to prevent the chance of a bad drug interaction complication.

Image: Courtesy of Wikipedia

Source: Consumer Reports on Health, January 2012 issue p.11



I'd add on past health transgressions as well. Some damage to our present health is a reflection of our past.