Health changes you should share with your primary care provider


3-minute read

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
  • Fevers
  • 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 worked.

By providing as much information as possible, you help your PCP get to the root of the problem and give you an accurate diagnosis.

Talk about the symptoms you ignore

Some health 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.

By discussing small issues with your provider, your PCP can decide whether a small issue is indeed a small issue. You can then treat it properly.

Examples include:

  • 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 your appetite.
  • 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

In addition 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:

  • Bladder 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 solution.
  • 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.

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