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Help your doctor diagnose

As a patient, it's not your job to diagnose a disease. However, you can play an effective role in helping your doctor make a diagnosis.

Symptom Tracking

It's a good idea to keep track of your symptoms. What time of day do they occur? Where? What did you have to eat? What were you doing at the time? Do the symptoms come and go or are they continuous? The list goes on and on. Write down every detail, even if it doesn't seem to be important, and remember to date your entries. Bring your notebook to your doctor's appointment.


Communication with Your Doctor

  • Prior to your visit, try to learn as much as you can about your family history. For example, what types of diseases are present among your family members?
  • Be 100 percent honest with your doctor. Tell them about any drugs you've taken, and remember to mention any herbal nutrition supplements or other type of supplements as well.
  • Tell your doctor how your feelings are affected by the symptoms. Do you feel depressed, angry or anxious?
  • Don't forget to mention how the symptoms affect your everyday life. Are you so exhausted you fall asleep at your desk at work?
  • Ask your medical doctor how often you should go for routine checkups and be sure to stick to his or her advice.


While you want to assist your doctor, it's not wise to make a self-diagnosis. Since you're not a health professional, you're simply not qualified to decide what the problem is. For example, if someone researches their symptoms on the Internet, they might get some results that give an idea of what the problem might be. The patient might read up on their "condition" online and then read that it's not something that needs to be treated. They decide they don't need to go to the doctor and therefore don't get the medications they need. If the person makes an incorrect diagnosis, they could miss getting the right treatment in a timely matter, which could have grave consequences.

With a little bit of effort on your part, you can help your doctor make an efficient and effective diagnosis, ensuring that you receive the appropriate treatment as soon as possible.

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