Be Your Own Health Advocate

Sometimes maintaining your health can be stressful. There can be a lot of elements to deal with: doctor appointments, waiting for diagnosis, keeping up with treatment, and being up-to-date on all current medical information that relates to your particular concerns. And while there are talented health professionals who should be doing everything they can to treat you; your body is yours alone. At the end of the day, you always have to be in the driver’s seat. Start a working relationship with your doctors. Your commitment to your own health can make a big difference. To get the most out of your treatment – speak up, be present, and be persistent. In other words, be your own health advocate!

WEGO Health Community Leader Janeen has given great advice for being your own health advocate. Her discussion and helpful tips are important for any patient to consider upon meeting with doctors and taking control of your health. Here are some of the ways you can actively advocate for your well-being while getting the most out of healthcare.

  • Do research. Know the latest information and treatments that may be available to you. This will help you communicate with doctors and know what questions to ask. Learning everything you can will not only make you feel better, but will also prepare you mentally for future appointments and diagnoses. But be careful with self-diagnosis, because this often causes unnecessary stress. Sometimes new information can be a lot to handle, so be informed but be sure to keep a positive outlook. 
  • Keep all of your own health records. It’s helpful to have but also your right as a patient. Keep track of all symptoms and pain, treatments and medication, and any other information you have about your health. Write everything down and keep it with copies of your lab and test results.
  • Ask questions. Before meeting with doctors, make a list of any questions you may have. This is where your prior research can come in handy. Share what you know and actively listen to any new information the doctor gives. Also, remember to ask for clarification if you don’t understand something the doctor has said.
  • Bring a notebook to appointments. Write down any information the doctor gives. This will help you remember any regimens or tips you should follow. It also acts as another piece to your medical history. What you write will be important to know when seeking a second opinion or re-clarifying with your doctor on your next visit.
  • It’s ok to ask for a second opinion. You deserve to know everything you possibly can about your health and sometimes this means seeing more than one doctor. Being comfortable with your doctor is essential to your well-being. Make sure your doctor has experience dealing with other patients with your symptoms. If not, you may need to see a specialist or find someone with more extensive knowledge of your conditions.
  • Be active and stay active with your health. Keep going until you are satisfied with your treatment. Sometimes it can take a long time to get the exact diagnosis or treatment that you need. Remember that you deserve the best. Keep asking questions and acquiring information. Try not to get frustrated or discouraged, stay focused and dedicated, and most of all – be active. Always advocate for yourself and your health.
A special thanks to Janeen for giving great insight. 
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