Things to Never Lie to Your Doctor About

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How much you smoke, drink, eat, and exercise, whether you use protection during sex. How often you go out in the sun it all matters.

Your surgical history

When you first see a new doctor because you switched jobs and healthcare providers or relocated to a new town. You’ll be filling out tons of medical and insurance forms. A biggie in the long slew of “yes” and “no” check boxes refers to your surgical history.

From minor procedures to major operations, Manhattan plastic surgeon David Shafer, MD. Says being honest about your past will help alleviate complications in your future. Though many of his surgeries are elective, every surgeon needs background info to minimize your risk for scar tissue, reactions, and more.

“I always find it concerning when a patient tells me they have never had surgery, and when I examine them, they have what are clearly facelift incisions,” he shares.


Your age

As you begin to approach middle-age, start menopause, or feel those aches and pains of getting older. You might be tempted to tell a little white lie about exactly what decade is on your birth certificate. While it’s likely not a big deal to fudge the truth to a bartender, grocer, or random stranger at networking event. Your doctor needs to know the honest truth about everything, including how many candles were on your last birthday cake.

Not only is your age a crucial element to how they prescribe treatment. But its information they’re going to find out, no matter what. And lying could break that essential doctor-patient trust. “I know patients don’t like admitting their age, but it’s very important to be truthful,” Dr. Shafer says.

If a patient tells me they are 49 but then their insurance card shows a birthday indicating they are 57. I have to wonder if the patient is lying about anything else.


What you eat

If you’re trying unsuccessfully to drop unwanted pounds but aren’t being truthful about your habits, your doctor won’t be able to help much. “Studies have shown that patients underestimate how much they are eating and how often they indulge in unhealthy food.

Many patients don’t want to admit the difficulties they have with complying with the prescribed diet. So it is easier for them to deny that they are eating anything ‘bad,’” says Tania Dempsey, MD. An integrative doctor in Armonk, New York.

Instead of feeling shameful for giving in to sweet cravings or not working out for a week (or several). Explain what’s tripping you up so your doctor can give her best advice.

“If I think that the diet intervention isn’t working as expected. First I am going to question why, and then I might have to resort to more aggressive treatment options,” Dr. Dempsey says.

“If patients admit to their indiscretions, then doctors can work with the patient to develop strategies to keep their diet on track.


How you’re using medications

When you can’t shake a cough or you’re experiencing an abnormal breakout. A doctor’s job is to not only diagnose you but to help prescribe you the right concoction of medicine to overcome the illness

ASAP. However, if you come back complaining that you’re still not over the hump. Be honest when your doctor asks how often you took the pills or how you applied the cream.

“If you are not truthful about whether you are actually using your medications, then we cannot accurately gauge if they are or are not working for you,” explains Manhattan dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD.

He explains that oftentimes when patients come back for their follow-up appointment. He quizzes them on how they specifically have been using a topical medication. “It may come out that they used them for a week and gave up, are only spot treating and not applying to the full face as directed, or didn’t even fill the prescription at all.”


Your smoking habits

You might tell friends and family you only smoke socially, even when you’re really blowing through a pack a day. Every doctor—from a cardiologist to a dermatologist—will recommend you cut out the dangerous habit. So when they ask if you’re puffing? You might want to lie, but Andrew J. Miller, MD, a plastic surgeon in Manhattan, says to come clean.

“One of the biggest habits that patients are often not truthful about is smoking,” he says. “Nicotine is very detrimental to healing, and many surgeons will not perform certain surgeries because the incision may break down, causing significant scarring after a long healing process. Sometimes the patient has lied about smoking just to get the procedure done, but in the end, they are just hurting themselves.”


The supplements you take

Though you might think there’s a battle happening between holistic doctors and primary care physicians. There’s one big thing they all have in common: They want to help you stay healthy and happy. Dr.

Dempsey says that sometimes patients are embarrassed to admit that they are taking vitamins. Supplements, or herbs because their doctor might scold them for believing in natural remedies. The opposite, actually, is true. They need to understand what you’re popping each morning to make sure they’re prescribing you what’s most compatible for your body.

“The truth is that many doctors believe that vitamins are important for patients with vitamin deficiencies. Unfortunately, there can be interactions between certain vitamins or herbs and prescription medication,” she says.

“These interactions could lead to higher or lower levels of the medication they are taking which could greatly impact their health. It is crucial for patients to be upfront about everything they are taking.”


Using recreational drugs

“There is growing drug use in this country, and doctors are being kept in the dark by their patients,” says Dr. Dempsey. “Patients don’t want to admit to their drug use because they don’t want that information to become part of their medical record. They fear that it could affect their insurance policy or employment.”

Though you might be hesitant to fess up for all of the reasons above. She stresses that being able to properly diagnose and treat you relies on a complete picture of your health and vices. As an example, if you smoke marijuana semi-frequently. You might have trouble with focus and memory or you might feel depressed or moody.

When your doctor sees this and knows you’re a recreational user, then they may attribute those reactions to your habit. If you don’t tell them? You could end up with a prescription you don’t need 🙂 🙂

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