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Safety and Wellness

Questions to Ask Your Doctor


You're probably used to answering your doctor's questions — not asking your own. But you have the right to ask questions, too. In fact, you should be able to ask questions about anything you'd like: It's your body.

These questions can help you start conversations about common health problems and concerns. You may want to jot down a list and bring it to your doctor's appointment. You don't have to ask all of the questions — or even any of them — but you can use them as a guide.

Questions for establishing open communication with your doctor:

  • Will you keep any information I give you confidential?
  • Is it OK for me to see you without my parents in the room?
  • If I need to, can I see you without my parents knowing about the visit?

Questions for an illness or symptom:

  • What's wrong with me?
  • Can you draw me a picture or show me what's wrong?
  • What causes this type of problem?
  • Is this serious?
  • Will there be any long-term effects of this problem?
  • Can I give this illness to someone else, and if so, how and for how long?
  • Are there any activities or foods I should avoid until I'm better?
  • When can I return to school or work?
  • How can I prevent this from happening again?

Questions for medications:

  • What does this medicine do?
  • What will happen if I don't take it?
  • Should I stop the medicine if I feel back to normal?
  • What are the side effects?
  • How long should I take it?
  • What if I accidentally miss a dose?
  • If I don't notice any improvement, how long should I wait before calling you?

Questions for tests and treatments:

  • Why is this test needed?
  • How soon must I get the test?
  • What will happen if I don't get the test?
  • Are there any risks involved?
  • Will it hurt? If so, is there anything we can do to lessen the pain?
  • Can you perform the test or treatment in your office, or will I need to go to a lab or other facility?
  • Are there any side effects?
  • How should I prepare for the test or treatment?
  • What side effects or changes should I report to you?

The more questions you ask, the more you'll discover about your body. And when you know what's going on with your body, you can take better control of your own health — today and in the future.

Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD
Date reviewed: September 2010


Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses and treatment, consult your doctor.

© 1995–2014 The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth. All rights reserved.

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