Lying to your doctor is a lose-lose situation, especially considering legal protections like the Hippocratic oath, which means that what we say in the doctor’s office stays right there. Yet, an astounding 80% of us admit to being untruthful with our healthcare providers at some stage. Even if we don’t intend to tell lies when we book our appointments, an often false belief that embarrassing information is irrelevant to the reason for our visit means that we simply either don’t mention something or actively exaggerate or underestimate the matter when we do.
In reality, though, honesty is always the best policy if you want to ensure the best possible treatment and the fastest recovery. In particular, we’re going to consider five things that you definitely won’t want to lie to your doctor about if you hope to start feeling better anytime soon.
Your lifestyle choices
Lifestyle choices including things like drinking, smoking, and unhealthy eating are perhaps the primary things lied about to medical professionals. After all, these are the behaviors that many of us feel most embarrassed by, and we may even hold a false belief that a healthcare provider will lecture us on these behaviors to the detriment of a diagnosis.
In reality, though, while any decent healthcare provider will advise you against things like smoking or heavy drinking, they aren’t asking these questions to make you feel bad. Rather, a doctor needs to know how much you drink so that they can make a fair assessment about whether this is causing health complaints, and also whether routes like rehab for alcohol would be beneficial as part of your treatment course. Equally, knowing about things like smoking can impact everything from the medications that are safe to use to potentially hidden health complaints that may be behind a more obvious problem. If your doctor doesn’t know about these harmful choices, then it’s far less likely that they’ll pick up on information like this. This could even prove fatal if you don’t simply come right out and tell all from your first appointment to your last.
Your sexual history
Many of us also avoid or feel awkward about discussing our sexual histories with our doctors. We may even tell white lies about things like the number of sexual partners we’ve had or how regularly we use contraception. In reality, though, even if they seem unrelated to, say, abdominal pain or flu-like symptoms, our sexual antics can often provide an additional window that your doctor’s going to need to see. This is because many STDs can cause symptoms of this nature, though your doctor is unlikely to jump to that conclusion right away.
As such, if anything like this arises after an unprotected sexual experience or an experience with a new partner, it’s more than worth working through your embarrassment and bringing up all of those facts. That way, you can save yourself a world of testing, and likely a lot of pain at the same time.
Your mental state
Even if you’re visiting your doctor to discuss your mental health, it can be easy to gloss over things like suicidal thoughts. You may even slip into the mistake of saying that you’re fine when your doctor asks how you are. This is because, in society, we’re used to not talking about our feelings, but remember that your doctor is there to hear exactly that.
Admittedly, a good doctor will use other signifiers like body language or even physical symptoms to hopefully come to the right conclusion, but you’re going to get the help that you need way sooner if you’re as open as possible about everything. These include negative feelings to overwhelming feelings of panic and even those darker thoughts that you wouldn’t dream of sharing with your nearest and dearest.
Your use of medications
If you’re particularly reliant on medication for, say pain relief, or are using medications at a rate that exceeds recommended daily limits, then you have more incentive to lie to your doctor than perhaps anyone else. After all, you don’t want them to change that prescription and potentially leave you struggling. Equally, you may not think to mention medications that you’ve always taken, including things like paracetamol or the contraceptive pill.
In reality, a doctor needs to know not only what you’re taking (which should ideally be in your medical notes anyway), but also how you’re using those things. This is because different drugs can have a different impact depending on the rates that they’re consumed, as well as reacting with any additional medications in different ways. Equally, the ongoing use of pain medications, or regularly exceeding recommended doses of drugs like these, could signify the start of a problem that your doctor is going to need to know about before the situation is left to escalate to unhealthy levels.
Your surgical history
While few of us would actively lie about our surgical histories in a medical setting (after all, what would the point?), it’s not unusual for us to skip crucial questions or omit things like minor operations we had when we were young for no reason other than to simplify paperwork when moving providers.
Unfortunately, with every single operation that we have leaving scar tissue and the potential for complications during future procedures, there’s no such thing as an operation that’s not worth mentioning. While it may take you an extra half an hour or so when filling out those forms, providing even details of operations you had when you were too young to remember them will certainly help your healthcare provider to ensure your safety and reduce the risks of complications if you ever need further surgical interventions in the future.
A surprising amount of people lie or tell half-truths to their doctors, but it’s time that you stopped being one of them if you want to ensure the informed care that you need to stay in top health at all times.